I had visions of cute little black leggings with chic printed tops, sparkly sandals with peddle pushers and sassy little dresses, with flounces and fraying in just the right places. I had visions of adorably cute tomboy ensembles, with skinny jeans paired with sparkly AC/DC shirts, beanies and teeny Doc Martins. My kids were going to look funky, hip, put together and adorable. My kids were going to be on fashionkids Instagram.
Reality kicked in. Firstly, in the form of budget (dear lord, $25 for a kids beanie that will get lost in a week?! I don’t think so…) and then in the form of rebellion. You see, my kids had a different vision for how they should look. My oldest is a boy. He lived happily in whatever I put on him, as long as he could run, climb and kick a soccer ball in it. He’s almost 9 now and his only opinions about clothing center around his sneakers and the occasional t-shirt. My girls, however, are a different story. Starting around the age of 2, they began to express very decisive opinions on which t-shirt, which skirt, usually in the form of wailing and flinging themselves to the ground, should I offend them with the wrong color or style. Woe unto me if we went away for a few days and a certain item wasn’t packed. My girls can put on an Oscar-worthy performance of woe and agony when it comes to expressing their disappointment, and there were some mornings when they were contending for Best and Best-Supporting Actress positions. So yes, there were some mornings when we left the house with a budding fashionista sporting a red and black polka dot top with fuschia leopard print leggings and rain boots.
Frustrating — you betcha. Normal — yup. Small children have a limited amount of say in what goes on in their lives, and spend much of their day being directed around. I cannot imagine being in my child’s place during the day, having so much of my time and activities dictated by the (seeming) whims of whatever adult happens to be in charge at the moment. It’s important to keep a few things in mind, to help you navigate these episodes
- Giving kids a choice is HUGE in terms of their cognitive development. Our role as parents is to limit the choices to those which we can fulfill or deem acceptable, but please, let your child have a chance to decide what they like and encourage them to express an opinion.
- Children who make choices can learn to OWN those choices. Sure, FOMO may kick in when you decide that your sister’s pasta looks waaaay better than the pizza you chose but this is part of owning the decision making process. You can use regret as a great way to discuss how to make different decisions next time.
- Letting a child choose allows them to explore boundaries in a healthy fashion. If you let your child decide jump down from a wall holding your hand or not, you give them the option of thinking about their comfort zone. It also allows them to build confidence in their ability to make decisions. Now, should a choice not work out so well (they get scared at the top of the big slide they wanted to go on alone), then you can discuss what happened and why, helping kids learn about insight and how to trust their decision making process.
- Pick your battles. You know what I’m talking about. The more choice we allow, the greater are the odds that you won’t be getting into a fight. There are so many non-negotiables in life (no you may NOT stick the fork into the dog to see what happens) so if you can offer choices whenever possible, this will minimize conflict.
The moral of the story is that walking fashion disasters have a pretty good chance of turning into tomorrow’s capable adults. So let the choices begin, and check your ego at the door.