When Can Kids Dress Themselves?

From what they want to eat to where they want to play, kids make interesting choices. Their creativity is especially seen when it comes to their selected fashion choices. While you might never pair polka dots with stripes, your child might see it as the coolest combination ever.

Children will start expressing their fashion opinions early on, and they’ll typically want to dress themselves around the age of four. As a parent, you might want to enforce your rules and choose their outfits for them, but you might find that a little leniency can go a long way in giving children a boost in self-esteem.

The actual problem with mismatching

Children imitate the behavior of their caregivers. If a caregiver is anxious and image obsessed or judges people and mocks them for their style choices, so will a child. Caring about what you look like and the anxiety that comes along with that is mainly a learned behavior. So instead of limiting your child’s creativity by worrying what other may think about their fashion, offer them tips as to how they can improve their style.

There may be bullies who make fun of certain fashion choices, and this is a great opportunity to teach your child about following their heart rather than following everyone else. Especially in the preadolescent years, boys and girls might want to prove themselves with their fashion choices. While this is OK to an extent, be sure to instill a deeper sense of self-worth as you and your daughter shop for tween girls clothing or as you and your son pick out a new pair of shoes. Learning such behaviors is invaluable and makes the world a much better place. Beauty and fashion fade, but the impression people make on others is what stays.

Signs they’re ready to dress themselves

Dressing yourself is a life skill, and everyone has to learn how to do it. There’s no universal age for when children are ready to take on this task, but there are signs that indicate they might want to do so.

  1. They have preferences

Forcefully dressing your child how you want may lead to great rebellion. People have favorite colors, favorite clothing items, and favorite styles. If your child seems to favor certain colors or prints over others, consider striking a balance between the style of your choosing in the color of theirs.

2. They know clothing related vocabulary

Pantaloons, corsets, and chaps won’t be found on a typical school worksheet, but children of Yore learned to recognize and identify these styles early on. Likewise, modern children learn of different clothing items and might specifically ask for them by name.

A five year old might not necessarily request a three-piece tailored tuxedo, but it’s probable that they ask you to buy them “overalls” or “skinny jeans.” They might have overheard their friends or favorite characters on television mentioning these items and want to dress the same.

  1. They get weather

If your child can identify weather and precipitation conditions, chances are, they know when to bundle up. If they see rain, they’ll probably grab their favorite umbrella. If the sun is shining, they might ask for a short sleeved shirt instead of a long-sleeved one. If your child matches clothing to weather, they might be ready to start picking their own outfits.

Help them at first

Style continuously evolves through trial and error. When your child first starts choosing their own outfits, they’ll probably still want a little bit of help from you even if they don’t explicitly ask for it. A great way to give them some power while steering them in the right direction is to offer them to choose one of three outfits. This way, they’re sure to wear something appropriate for the occasion, but it’s still something they chose.  

Fashion might seem like nothing, but clothing can help shape individuality and character. If your children show signs of wanting to dress themselves, give them the space to do so while also looking out for them at the same time.

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