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When toddlers choose their own clothes

How many times have you seen a three-year-old dressed in a pink frilly skirt over stained jeans, with her older brother's skateboard sweatshirt completing the outfit? And remember silently tsk-tsking the mother for allowing her child to be seen in public with such a hideous display of clothing? Except that now, that hideously dressed child is your own, who stubbornly insists no other outfit will do for the trip to the mall or Grandma's House. So what to do?

First of all, they aren't doing it to annoy you (but don't worry, that part will come about eight or ten years down the road). They are simply exerting their independence, and one of the ways they can do it is by choosing their own clothing and dressing themselves.

Children view the world with different eyes than parents do. So that pink skirt and orange sweatshirt are both bright noticeable colors, so based upon that, they will match perfectly. But parents see those same two colors, and the only thing that comes to mind is the word clash.

First off all, be flexible. If you are planning on staying in all day, or just making a trip to the park, the time is ideal for letting him or her choose the outfit of choice.

Don't always claim the desired clothing is "dirty". Hide if you must, but if your son's favorite dump truck t-shirt is "dirty" for three weeks straight, soon he won't even care if it is dirty or not, and will wear it anyway.

If a favorite item of clothing is getting stained, worn or too small, go and purchase another one if you can afford it. Then the next time you go to throw it into the wash, let your child know you are going to wash it specially to brighten up the colors, remove the stain, or fix whatever flaw there is. That way your child won't be suspicious when the new one appears in place of the old one.

So what should you do when you want your child dressed appropriately, and not in a self-chosen outfit? Make a deal. If it is a trip to the Grandparent's house for Sunday dinner, say they have to wear your outfit until after supper, and then they can change. Oftentimes, they will be having a great time, and forget the deal anyway, but if not, at least you will have a suitably dressed child through the dinner!


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