Fashion

Should You Let Your Child Choose their Clothes on Their Own?

Every morning, it’s the same story. Your child wants to choose her baby girl dresses, but you don’t quite agree (if at all) with her choices. So, do we oppose or not?

“If I let my 4-year-old daughter choose her outfit in the morning, she would leave every day with heels and a sequined skirt,” laughs Marie, a 34-year-old mother. Many parents find themselves in critical situations when dressing their children, especially when they are young. And the clock is ticking. It remains to choose whether to lead a daily showdown or let it flow at the risk of seeing your child sacrifice all the rules of elegance. “The desire to make the decision yourself must be seen as something positive. It comes under the order of automation and therefore it is good for the child”, estimates Guillemette Faure, journalist, and author of the book The best for my child.

But if this desire must be encouraged, what happens when our reasonable clothing suggestions receive a systematic “no”? “We must already make the distinction between the rejection of a garment for a reason which may relate to comfort (an itchy sweater) or practicality (for example to play with his friends) and the “no” he will formulate by the simple spirit of contradiction”, explains child psychiatrist Stéphane Clerget.

The age of reason or of protest?

According to the specialist, it is often around 2 years, for the earliest, that the debates appear when choosing the summer dress for girls of the day. But we really talk about conflict around 3-4 years. It is then necessary to try to understand what these disputes translate. For example, does the child want to show off a gift that has just been given to him and of which he is very proud? Around the age of 5 or 6, there is a more in-depth reflection, and it is then interesting to understand why, for example, a girl wants to wear this dress and not another.

The discussion, therefore, seems essential, especially if we need to rationalize the child’s choices. “You have to explain to him that there are limits: the outside temperature for example. Because we are responsible for his health, he cannot go out in a T-shirt if it is raining or in the middle of winter. Hygiene rules can also come to our rescue when he wants to sleep with his favorite shoes… and very dirty. To involve the little ones by taking these parameters into account, the journalist and columnist advise letting them “watch the weather themselves and define the rules as a family. For example, below 17°, we put on tights with a skirt. Or we avoid lace-up shoes on sports days to facilitate the change of outfit.”

Our role as parents is not necessarily to have a well-dressed child but to help him to be independent

For the child psychiatrist, it is also necessary to consider the conventions, the sartorial conformity linked to a place like a school. It then becomes easier to say no to a disguise that must remain in the field of the game and therefore of the house or the weekend. “Storage can also help to frame: you can put in a box everything that comes under disguise or outfits authorized for the house such as heeled shoes rather than in the wardrobe where all the everyday clothes or pumpkin pajamas are,” explains Guillemette Faure, herself the mother of a little girl.

Beware, however, of those who are too strict because, as the child psychiatrist points out: “The main thing is to listen, to advise, but you must not be psycho-rigid either: no need to focus on the choice of a color.” Even if it means, sometimes, giving up on fashion conventions that ultimately don’t matter so much. “Our role as parents is not necessary to have a well-dressed child but to help him to be independent,” said the journalist.

The temptation of licenses

Many parents also lament their child’s obsession with a licensed character designed to appeal to them. Cars, Frozen, My Little Pony or even Star Wars, the temptations are numerous in stores dedicated to clothing. “We can say no to the total look but give in to a piece like a T-shirt, socks or pajamas. On the other hand, if it becomes obsessive, it becomes important to wonder about the reason for this obsession.”

For Stephane Clerget, there are no dramatic consequences either for parents who wish to remain faithful to their conviction and not fall into the “commercial” if they clearly explain the reasons for their refusal. If Guillemette Faure also agrees with the system of alternatives, she provides a tip for parents who have been forced to give in to the call of the Lightning McQueen t-shirt or Elsa skirt: “If we have to give in, we can always hide them under the bottom pile later!”

The question of shopping

For some parents, the issue can be settled more easily: all you must do is not buy the clothes or Sun-San sandals with your child so as not to have to face unreasonable demands. So, should we keep them away from shopping sessions or on the contrary associate them, at our own risk? “It all depends on the patience and the time you have. It can be an educational act, but you must frame this moment well”, explains the doctor. “You can say to your child: “your opinion interests me, but you are not a decision-maker. It will be mom or dad who will have the last word.” All this, of course, by arguing and why not, even by talking to them about money and budget because they can integrate it.” For the journalist, even if we can make exceptions.

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