Eventually, you know that your child will start to pick out clothes. Now is the time to guide those choices. When children are little, we are put in charge of deciding everything for them, but eventually, little by little, the child comes into his or her own. One of the first things that children often learn to do is to dress themselves. The first thing we do as parents is to lay out the clothes that we want our child to wear. Then we begin to ask them, “Do you want to wear this or that?” In the beginning, children are trying to learn how to accomplish the task of dressing themselves, but when that is accomplished, that’s when they move on to style. They begin to say things like, “I want to wear this or I don’t like that.” As parents, we begin to accommodate these requests. As any parent knows, there will always be that ballerina or Superman costume that your child wants to wear every day. It is in these times that we can guide and help our child to develop a style that we both can live with. Let’s say that you want to make sure that your child knows how to pair items correctly. You may implement the pick and pair technique. This is where you allow your child to select an item of clothing to wear with the understanding that you will pair that item with a piece of clothing of your choice. Some parents will even pick multiple items that they like and lay them out. Then the child gets to choose which of the parent’s pairing choices they like. This gives the child control while allowing the parent to guide his or her choices. Another way to facilitate your child’s choices is to pair up the clothes in the closet so that a choice by the child includes the entire outfit.
When my children were little, I would allow them to pick out their clothes and if I didn’t like something, I would say something like, “Don’t you think that the pretty cat shirt would go with this better?” Sometimes my child would agree and other times the child may not, but in any case, you have to decide how much individuality you are going to allow. Will you allow your child to go to school in her Halloween costume? I always took the position that most things were fine as long as they weren’t too far out there or inappropriate. I also removed any clothing that I didn’t like so I could oversee the situation. However, in the end, my children developed their own style within my broad parameters. As the children got older and started to expand their style choices, my parameters were still invading their choices. In the end, that was what I wanted. I just wanted to guide their overall choices. Just remember, the things you do in the beginning have long-lasting effects.