I heard the other day “I’m having trouble getting my 4-year-old boy dressed in the morning. He only wants to wear the same jeans every day. He won’t even tell us why he wears a certain pair of jeans.” Lately I found myself in this position where I had to convince my 3-year-old daughter why wearing the same red dinosaur shirt over and over again is not appropriate. Yes, the long-sleeve shirt has a dinosaur on it and her friends at nursery were excited with what she was wearing. Maybe this is one explanation of the kid’s obsession at some point.
I don’t particularly mind her limited wardrobe choices. I mean, they’re kids, right? They literally can’t wear the same thing forever — eventually, the shirt, the beloved shirt will no longer fit over her head. I like her passion, her insistence on what she wants.
But I do wonder, every so often, if she won’t grow out of the impulse to wear the exact same thing every day, if she will end up, say, like my high school math teacher who wore the exact same brown corduroy pants, denim shirt, and tweed blazer every single day for the entire year.
Should I leave her wear what she wanted or not? Let’s see what professionals say.
This is probably just a phase that will pass in a few weeks. We, parents, should save your energy for bigger battles, and remind ourselves that having a child with a mind of its own is a good thing. “There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same thing over and over, as long as it’s clean,” says Dori Winchell, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Encinitas, California. Of course, you don’t want to be stuck doing laundry at the crack of dawn. Make a rule that if her/his outfit is dirty, your kid has to pick out something else. (Find a calm time—not when they are getting dressed in the morning—to break the news.)
Have him/her decide on their outfit the evening before; the excitement of choosing will help distract them if his/her favorite getup is in the hamper. “Toddlers’ lives are chaotic,” Dr. Winchell says. “If a certain outfit gives them stability and security, there’s no harm in that.”
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