Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Toddler Independence

With both of my children, around the time they are 2 or 3, they start to become convinced that they are independent. One area that they both started to exercise their independence in around that age was in clothing.

With my son, it started mostly with him getting upset with my clothing selections for the day. I didn't want to spend hours in an already busy morning fighting him about what to wear. Ultimately, as long as it was weather appropriate, I really didn't care what he was wearing. I started presenting him with a do you want to wear this or that choice. For him, this was enough to make him feel like he was in charge. Over time, he began to express the need to dress himself. I am a working mom, so I found that for me, the best option was to get him up earlier, allow him to choose his outfit and leave him to dressing, while I got ready. This gave him ample time to try to dress himself, and time for me to assist with frustration on not getting the shirt on or the pants up or whatever the daily challenge might be, but because he was up earlier, it didn't impact my ability to leave the house on time.

With my daughter, it has been a little different. She only went with my 'this or that' approach for a very short window. She has some definite opinions as to what she is going to wear. She climbs out of bed and immediately opens her drawers looking for a shirt. Her drawers are no longer neatly folded, but since the clothes that she wears aren't the kind that get overly wrinkled, I have learned to look past this, to maintain the peace with my 2 year old. She definitely has favorites that she will dig through her drawer looking for. If I did laundry daily, there are some items that would be selected daily, so her laundry doesn't get put away right away, in order to ensure that she wears more of her clothes. Usually, if she doesn't see it, she doesn't need it.

She also needs time to get herself dressed now. Typically, only Daddy is allowed to help if she struggles, so I bring her to my room to dress, while I get ready. This way, Daddy is there to help her out.

Her opinions carry beyond her clothes to her shoes. 'Pretty' shoes are a definite favorite with her. In fact, I had to hide the Easter shoes so that we didn't wear them out ahead of time. Now that the holiday has come and gone, I do let her wear them. She looks a little silly in sweats and formal white shoes, but she is happy. I just pack her tennis shoes, so when they play outside at school they can change her into better play shoes.

With both of my kids, there were times where I had to convince them to wear a particular outfit for pictures or other event, but if you set it up right, you can usually convince them it was their idea and maintain the peace.

When it comes to toddlers, sometimes the best way to avoid unnecessary meltdowns is to know which battles you are willing to fight. At my house, we try to stick with those that directly impact safety, manners, etc. and worry less about the little ones like what they wear.

For other tips and tricks that work, check out Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.


Melissa said...

Thanks for this! My twin girls turn 2 in two weeks, and I can see the battles warming up. I need to remember to only stand firm on the important ones!