My 3-year-old wants to choose what she wears each day & we’re having terrible battles around stopping her wearing her princess dress with a woolly hat and wellies, or some days her ballet dress and fairy wings with flip flops. One week all she wanted to do was wear was her brother’s dragon suit. What’s your advice? Melanie Barnet for Manchester
The Toddler Stage is ALL about striving for independence. Once you realise this you can relax!
This is the age when children start stretching their wings and look for a little control over their lives whether it’s insisting that they do up their own seat belt to pulling on their welly boots it’s all about showing you and themselves how capable they are.
So, worrying about princess dresses and flip flops is not really what it’s all about as this really is the ‘small stuff’ when you look at the big picture of parenting.
One way to help reduce the battles is to offer limited choices – so asking your little one whether they’d like to wear a blue jumper or yellow jumper is offering them a degree of choice but you’re still in overall control of the fact that it’s cold outside and they need to wear a jumper to keep warm.
It’s the same principle of asking an older child or your teenagers:
“Would you like to do your homework before or after you’ve had your dinner?”
What’s implied is that they are doing their homework but they have a choice about when !
If you want it doesn’t hurt to do a little training. Bring out the paint set and show your kids what colours match. Bring out the thermometer or look outside and show them that when the temperature is below a certain point, they need to wear warm clothes. “Talk and Teach” them that in certain circumstances that they need to wear appropriate clothes to a wedding, to school, to a special party or to the office!
But it’s also important to give your child choices so that they develop their sense of autonomy. So, if it doesn’t matter that day let them have fun choosing what they wear – you might just find you have a budding Stella McCartney in your midst. J