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Should you let your child choose their own clothes?

As a parent, it can be tempting to always pick out the clothes that your child wears. After all, you can be sure that what you choose for them is appropriate for the weather or situation. But what happens when your child develops their own unique sense of style and wants to pick their own outfits?

Read on to find out why you should consider letting your child choose their own clothes, and how to handle the situation when they get to this stage.

Why should you let your little one choose his/her clothes?

1. It allows them to express themselves

The clothes you wear reflect your personality. For a child, picking out an outfit for the first time is so much more than choosing something nice to wear; it can be an opportunity for them to express their likes, dislikes, and opinions in general. Don’t be surprised to discover that their taste in clothing is the polar opposite of yours. Keep in mind that the first couple of items that they will pick for themselves are about experimenting to find their style, so be patient!

2. It lets them practice decision making

It may not seem like a big deal, but allowing your little ones to pick out their clothes while they’re still young can help to cultivate their problem-solving skills. Allow them plenty of opportunities to weigh up their options and make a decision, a skill that they will find useful later in life.

3. They will wear what you buy them

Any parent can tell you how frustrating it can be to buy clothes for your child, only for them to refuse to wear them. When you allow your kids to pick out their own outfits, they’re more likely to wear what you but them. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about spending your mornings trying to convince them to wear an outfit that you picked out for them.

4. It helps to foster independence

When kids get to choose their outfits, they are more willing to learn how to get dressed which encourages them to be more independent as well as inspires them to take more charge when it comes to their daily routine. Furthermore, by letting them pick out what they want to wear, you get more time to complete other tasks at hand.

5. It can be a way for them to start learning about money and budgeting

You can take it a step further by taking your kids along with you on your next shopping trip and letting them pick out the outfits they like for you to buy. You can use this opportunity to introduce them to money and budgeting at an early age. This way, you could help foster a healthy outlook towards spending that will encourage them to be sensible with their money when they’re older.

How to go about letting your child choose their clothes

1. Give choices

Most toddlers and pre-schoolers want to have more control over their lives, and getting to pick out their clothes is one way they feel they can achieve this. So whenever you can, let them have it. To make sure that you have control of the outcome, provide your child with choices. For example, ask, “Would you prefer to wear the black coat or the blue one?” Having a say will make your little one less likely to throw tantrums.

2. Plan ahead

To plan, try making a step-by-step guide of your kid's routine by taking pictures of them doing various activities. These photos could show him waking up, washing his face, brushing his teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. Hang it in his room, and he is likely to follow it each day. If you allow him to pick out an outfit the night before, you can avoid having to deal with tantrums and tears in the morning.

3. Practice makes perfect

By the time they are 3 years old, most kids can pull on a sweatshirt, underwear, and elastic-waist pants. Most children enjoy doing this as it makes them feel confident and competent. So even if tests your patience, give your little one the chance to dress as often as possible, especially on slow-moving weekends when there isn't much to do. Remember, the more power you give to get dressed, the less of a hassle it will be.

4. Make a game of it

A preschooler doesn't understand the urgency of having to leave the house on time in the morning, which is why they would rather do anything else than getting dressed. Keeping this in mind, make their dressing up routine more fun by turning it into a game. For example, say, "I'm going to set a timer to see how long it take you to put on your underwear, pants, and shirt." Reward your child if he can get dressed before the buzzer goes off.

5. Allow for taste

Do you dislike itchy sweaters? Can't stand cargo shorts? Likely, your child will also have clothes that he/she dislikes. Therefore, try to be flexible about your little one's preferences, as long as it is within reason. There may be an easy solution to some of your child’s pet peeves – you can cut off itchy shirt tags or turn socks with uncomfortable seams inside out. And if he wants to wear shorts every day – well, why not? If you are concerned that he may be cold, you can always add tights underneath.

6. The winter coat struggle

If your child doesn’t feel cold while spending time indoors, why force him to put on a bulky jacket over his perfectly cozy outfit? Allow your child to shed layers and dress as he pleases as long as it is warm inside. He will feel different once he is outdoors. Unless it is unbearably cold, carry his coat for him if he can’t be bothered to put it on. If he gets cold, he will ask for the coat.

Final thoughts

Children enjoy exploring, discovering, and pushing boundaries. Allowing your little one to choose the outfits they want to wear could aid in their development, expand their creativity, and help with their independence, confidence, as well as financial management in the future.

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