Our children need some direction on clothing choices and how to dress appropriately. When our elementary aged children start school, they may want to copy the clothing choices around them, or they want to wear their favorite shirt every single day for a month. Sometimes they want to wear the lime green boots with the orange sweater they got for Halloween last year. As parents, we may have expectations about dress that are not necessarily conducive to supporting the unique personalities of our children. Thus, there are often intense arguments over what to wear or not to wear that can be stressful for all involved.
As a parent, I learned early on that when you have a child who contradicts your views about their clothing choices it can feel frustrating. My middle daughter wanted to dress herself starting at the age of two. She did not like the outfits I picked out, and would rather wear two different colored shoes, or skirts with blue jeans and tops that did not match the outfit. She would fight every coordinated outfit I would lay out for her. I tried to put two or three outfits out for her to choose from, thus giving her some autonomy in the decision. Instead she would choose the shirt from one, bottoms from another and two distinct types of shoes. This bothered me until one day I had an epiphany in the middle of one of her tantrums over wearing the matching outfit I was trying to get on her wiggling body. I recognized she did not have to match to be happy and healthy. This realization has made life easier and so much better because we follow some simple DRESS expectations that still apply to her as a teenager. So, even when our children are little, we can offer opportunities and choices to help them to DRESS for their day and still meet our expectations and budget.
- Dress for the weather outside
- Is what I am wearing going to be warm enough or cool enough to protect me?
- Respectful for the setting and the rules of the environment they will be in that day
- Is it proper for church, meet dress code expectations, or right for the location I will be wearing it?
- Earn their own money to pay for accessories or prices above your budget
- Am I willing to work for the extra money to cover the difference in the budget friendly shoes or the ones I really want?
- Supports their values and the values of their family
- Am I making a choice that honors my body and my family?
- Smile because it fits their unique personality and makes them happy
- Does it make me feel confident and strong?
Offer DRESS as an alternative to telling your child what to wear. Help them to know what is and is not with a few non-negotiables. Remember to relax and let them be unique and to embrace what makes them feel confident and happy to be in their own skin … or clothing.