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Should You Let Kids Pick Out Their Own Clothes?

What age should children pick out their own clothes? Why choosing their clothes builds kids' self-esteem, helps them be independent, and allows them to develop a sense of style.
Should You Let Kids Pick Out Their Own Clothes?
Updated: December 15, 2022

Have you ever been excited about an adorable romper, or a dapper little hat only to have your child reject them all and embrace a dark goth wardrobe or rainbow tutu dress instead? 

 With school pictures around the corner, are you nervous about a power struggle and tantrums over the perfect outfit? Your sense of style may not always match your child’s preferences, and that can be really hard to accept. 

Related: What to Do About Clothing Battles with Your Kids

When it comes to kids’ self-expression with clothing and the responsibility of having kids pick out their own clothes, there are some key factors you should keep in mind. 

By giving kids the responsibility to get themselves dressed you can build your little one’s independence without adding more stress to your hectic morning routine.

5 Benefits of Allowing Your Child to Pick Out Their Clothes

1. Build Confidence by Choosing Your Clothes 

Build Confidence by Choosing Your Clothes 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, It is important to help foster growing independence by setting clear guidelines and routines. 

When children can master small problems and choices, they feel proud. When a child feels proud, it builds their self-esteem, their self-expression, and their confidence. 

They learn what kind of colors, styles, and clothing types they feel their best in, and which ones they don’t feel as comfortable with. Finding a sense of style and expressing your personality through fashion is fun for kids who are beginning to explore their own sense of identity. 

2. Improve Kids' Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills 

Improve Kids’ Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills

Allowing a child to pick their own outfits between stripes and polka dot t-shirts can be a huge decision in a preschooler's life (and sometimes even in an adult’s life!). Giving them.

Presenting kids with some small choices in their daily routines, like what coat to wear that day, helps your child develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Wearing their chosen outfit throughout the day lets kids see the impact of their choices. For example, when we don’t wear our mittens in the winter, we come home with cold fingers!

Making these connections early will help kids apply the same reasoning to bigger choices in their lives as they grow up and have to make more and more decisions on their own. 

3. Showing Your Child You Respect Their Opinions 

Showing Your Child You Respect Their Opinions 

 When a parent respects a child’s choice, they in turn are learning the importance of respect, how to respect other people’s choices, and most importantly, learning that they deserve respect in their life. 

Child development experts promote that children should be treated with mutual respect by their parents and other adults. Allowing kids the opportunities to build decision-making skills throughout their day will help children reach their developmental milestones.

4. Give Young Kids a Sense of Control 

 Give Young Kids a Sense of Control 

We all possess the need to control aspects of our life. Control helps us to feel calm and collected. Children also have this desire, which makes it frustrating for them since they can control a very small portion of their life. 

Giving children the option to have a sense of control, will help them to feel more comfortable and more confident.  

5. Save Time Getting Kids Ready in the Morning 

Save Time Getting Kids Ready in the Morning

Yes, giving your children the option to pick out their own clothes, will save you time in the long run! When your child can pick out their outfit for the day, they are more likely to get dressed and keep on the busy morning schedule.

Tips for Allowing Your Child to Pick Out Their Own Clothes 

Keep to a consistent schedule. Being consistent is an important aspect of giving young children control over choosing their own clothes. For example, if you give them the option on Monday to pick out their own clothes, you can expect they will be waiting to do this also on Tuesday. 

If there happens to be a special event like a wedding where you need to have more control over your child’s outfit, stick with allowing them smaller choices, like choosing their own accessories. 

Tips for Allowing your Child to Pick Out Their Own Clothes

It is also important not to overwhelm young children with choices. If you are allowing your toddler to pick out their own clothes, you can give them two choices that you have preselected, such as the green shirt, or the black shirt. 

With younger elementary school students, it would be acceptable for you to say, pick out a short sleeve shirt and shorts. 

As a parent, we try very hard to instill independence in our little ones from an early age. We encourage them to roll over, we encourage them to crawl and take their first steps. We encourage them to get back up when they fall and to try and try again.

From birth, children are taking in information and make connections. Before they are even one year old, babies are very clear on what they like and dislike. With all this learning, it can be tough because parents are constantly making choices for them, most of which are necessary for their survival, but some of which can easily be done by toddlers.

The same tips for helping kids learn to pick their own clothes apply to other parts of their lives as well. For example, before making your child breakfast, you can ask them, would you like a pancake or eggs? Or handing them a toy, you could ask, would you like the red one or the blue one? 

Allowing your child to act on their own opinion and make simple choices that are well within their scope will help them tremendously in building confidence, developing problem-solving skills, learning, and building respect, allowing them to express their need for a sense of control and power. And it’s one less chore you have to do, too! 

Brittany McCabe

About Brittany

Brittany attained her MA in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Early Child… Read more

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