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Why I let my kids dress themselves

Posted By Kristen Hewitt
September 18, 2014

It official—we have not one but two divas in our home. (Three if you count me.) These smaller divas like to wear anything sparkly or frilly that twirls and is preferably pink. If the late, great Joan Rivers was still with us, a conversation with our daughters on the red carpet would go something like this:

JOAN: “What are you wearing dah-lings?”

EMY (age 2½): “A fancy dwess, and spar-ka-ly [three syllables] shoes!”

LILA (age 5½): “A striped dress with polka dot leggings and rain boots.”

JOAN: “Brilliant—you both look fabulous! [Turns to the camera.] What was their mother thinking? For a trip to Target, totally inappropriate!”

Yep, that’s me. A perfectionist who matched everything with our first daughter, but with baby number two has learned to just go with it. Headbands never match their clothes anymore—and usually their shoes don’t either.

Why?

It’s all a matter of control. Think about it, kids have zero control over anything in their little lives. We tell them where to go and what to do. We buy their toys, tell them what to eat, and when to sleep. We make up all the rules.

Nine times out of ten, we’ve learned to let our girls pick their clothes. Yes, I still absolutely cringe when they don’t match, and I have probably voiced my opinion too many times to count. Several times I tried a different strategy and offered up three choices, but they usually picked the same things: tutu dresses, ballerina outfits, and the occasional Disney princess dresses. That girl you saw in Einstein’s Bagels Sunday wearing an Elsa dress? That was my daughter.

I’ve actually almost bought stickers that say, “I Dressed Myself,” not only to reinforce their choice and independence, but also to negate the awkward glances we sometimes see in public. I used to be that woman (before kids) who judged moms in stores when I saw their children wearing unmatched clothes or looking disheveled. And I still see you now, the women giving us backward glances at the grocery store. But I decided against the stickers.

You see…I want them to have confidence and feel empowered to make their own decisions. Imagine the pride they feel in picking their own outfits. It might be from garments mommy has purchased, but hey, at least they have a choice! This not only fosters self-confidence, but also gives them the ability to express themselves.

Let’s not get crazy, though, I still choose holiday outfits and designate a few frocks for church. But at least it eliminates one major battle a day…for now. When we get to the teen years, I have a feeling my husband will have much more to say on this subject. But for now we’ll just focus on trying to keep our almost 3-year-old from lifting her dress and showing her “booty butt” in public. Baby steps.

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About Kristen Hewitt

Kristen Hewitt is an Emmy Award–winning producer and reporter for Fox Sports Florida and the Miami HEAT.  She also writes a blog called mommy in SPORTS that chronicles her passion for sports and the misadventures of mommy-hood.  Her work can also be seen on The Huffington Post and She Knows. Kristen’s favorite job, though, is raising her two daughters; she tries to teach them to live every day with grace, gratitude, love…and a lot of laughs!

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  1. I have always let my daughter dress herself… and I can say that what used to be a daily battle to hold my tongue has now become a sense of pride for me. She has truly developed her own sense of style- real style!- and that would have never happened if I was picking out her clothes. I really enjoy fashion and although I don’t talk about it much with her, she seems to see it the same way I do: as a form of creative expression. Watching her think about and really get excited about putting an outfit together is fun. So, once you get through the stage of sparkles & tutus (We’re still there some days, too), you might be thrilled to watch how the choices evolve into personal style. By the way, I totally agree about the control point. Perhaps the reason I let my daughter choose her clothes is because it was one of the biggest issues of my own childhood… I went through a million (some AWFUL) phases and the creative expression was often interrupted by my mother’s constant embarrassment. Now I can’t really blame her looking back, but…

    1. I can’t wait to get through this phase! Our oldest is growing like a weed and needs a whole new wardrobe, perhaps I’ll let her pick it at the store this time!

      1. It helps to go into stores where you like almost everything they sell AND they sell color-schemed clothes. 🙂

  2. Love this! I try to let my kids dress themselves too and sometimes the combinations are a bit… strange. But they’re happy and really, that’s the most important thing!