“Mom, I don´t want to wear that.”
November 25, 2014  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

There comes an age in which children start choosing their own clothes. Until they acquire their tastes and favourite looks, sometimes the way they dress or the combination of colours they choose can be amusing, absurd and even inadequate. How many times has your daughter pleaded you to let her wear her Princess costume to school? How many times has your son wanted to take his rain boots out for a summer stroll? How many times have they worn two different coloured socks? As parents we can suggest what they should wear but in the end, they should be the ones who decide. Being able to choose helps them become more independent as they learn to combine colours and patterns and create their own style.

Lisa Brunnage, coach at Bratbusters Parenting has been combining humour with common sense for over 40 years in order to help parents improve their relationship with their children. According to Brunnage, children, at a certain point, need to feel they control certain aspects in their life and letting them chose what to wear gives them that control.

While they don´t wear their bathing suit to go skiing or their Dracula costume for their first day at school, what they wear shouldn´t become a problem. They can express themselves through their clothes and it’s their way of saying: “Here I am. This is me. I´ve chosen to wear this.” Nonetheless, like in all things related to children, they need our help and advice, our common sense. Here are some tips on how to help them dress and combine their own clothes so they can feel free and independent.

Teach them. Ever since they are young, children learn by making mistakes. In our post titled: Why Making Mistakes Improves Learning, we spoke about the need to try, experiment and make mistakes in order to learn. Throughout the years, our children have seen what getting dressed entails. How we chose clothes, how do we combine them and sometimes, how we change our mind. Now it´s their turn. When they start to chose what to wear, simply guide them, step by step and praise them when they´re ready. Tell them what the day looks like (if it´s raining, snowing, is cold or hot) and help them choose something adequate.


A good way to show them how to choose clothes is by playing with their dolls and toys. Besides being a fun activity, their motor skills and coordination improve.

Playing. In our post titled “Role Playing with the Nenuco App”, we spoke about how important role playing is as children interpret a role in a real imaginary context. Pre-schoolers and toddlers love it because it allows them to become temporary adults and do adult things. This type of game is a wonderful tool to teach them how to dress. Ask your little mommy or daddy at home to dress their dolls up. Remind them to look thru the window to see what the day looks like or help them look up the weather. If it´s cold, you might want to suggest they choose something warm so their babies don’t get a cold. If they begin to integrate these simple steps into their games, they´ll probably transfer their knowledge to their own way of dressing.

Let them Decide. Yes, we should establish limits and offer suggestions. If it´s too hot and your son insist he wear a winter coat, let him do it. Just remind him that if he takes it off, he will have to be responsible of carrying it. “I think you´re going to be hot in that coat but take it if your want. You can always take it off later.”  Allowing him to decide is giving him the chance to make a mistake and learn from it.

Choices.  Instead of choosing what they´re going to wear, try giving them options. Do you want to wear the read coat or the green one? Would you like to wear the striped socks or the blue ones? This way, you´ll be helping them while they feel they are the ones who are choosing.  It´s important to remember to resist the temptation to keep deciding. We must let them grow up to become independent, intelligent and happy adults.

Common Sense. If your daughter has chosen to wear her ballet outfit on a rainy day, instead of saying NO, why not get her to think and use her common sense? “Look outside at the rain. I think that that dress is so beautiful but if you wear it today it´s going to get wet and you might catch a cold. What if you wear this other one? She might say no. In this case, instead of arguing, reach an agreement. “OK, this is the deal. You wear your ballet dress today but you will have to wear leotards and a shirt underneath.”

Flexibility. Adults have their own tastes. We might not like wool sweaters or we might not stand to wear stockings. We might love pink and abhor blue. Just like us, children have their preferences. Letting them choose what their wear is showing respect for their tastes and individuality.

The Night Before. If your children take forever getting dressed in the morning, why not get them to get their clothes ready the night before? This way you´ll all avoid a lot of stress and running around. If this doesn’t work, you could turn it into a race. While you get the breakfast, put the timer on and give them 10 minutes to see if they can get dressed within that time frame. And always, always, congratulate them for their choice.

Remember that if we, as parents, give them the done deal, what we are really doing to numbing their capacity to imagine, their creativity and independence. Choosing what they wear allows them to explore their tastes and preferences. It also increases their common sense and critical thinking, which by the way is key to learning how to make decisions and build their own personality.

Photo Credits:Famosa


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