Tips For Getting Your Preschooler Dressed Without A Fight
If getting your preschooler dressed and ready every morning is a task you both dread, this post is for YOU!
I’m betting you love the fact that your child is learning to develop their own preferences and opinions when it comes to their long-term development, but in the day to day it can be painful and incredibly frustrating. It’s hard to know, in many cases, how to let your child hold onto some of that independent thought but also, you know, dress appropriately and not turn every morning into a struggle for everyone involved.
Here are some ideas of ways to ease the pressure when it comes to getting your preschooler dressed in the morning:
1. set out clothes the night before
Introduce a new part of the routine where you and your child work together to select their outfit for the next day. If you have a responsibility chart for your preschooler, like I do for mine, this can be added to that chart. You can do some fun things together to choose the outfit, too.
Check the weather and then talk about what that means as far as comfort, temperature, etc., with your kiddo, such as, “It’s going to rain tonight, so what kind of shoes do you think would be good to wear tomorrow knowing the ground will be wet and squishy after the rain?”
You can also talk about planned activities for the next day to help with the outfit selection process. For example, “Let’s see…we’ll be going to a birthday party tomorrow, so maybe we’ll want to look a little nicer than usual! What would be a fun thing to wear to a party that’s a little special but still comfortable so you can play?”
2. involve your child in the clothes buying process
I find this is easiest to do with online purchases, which is how we buy most of my preschooler’s clothes anyway, but you could absolutely make it work with in-store shopping as well! I like to first go through on my own and put together a selection of clothes, based on what her wardrobe needs and looks I’m okay with for her. Then I bring my daughter into the conversation and show her my curated list and ask her to help me narrow it down to our final choices.
For example, if she needs a raincoat I will have selected two or three options but will let her know she only needs one raincoat so she can choose one between those two and three to be the one we purchase. I’ve found this works really well, and my daughter feels really ownership over her clothes. When they arrive in the mail, I make a big deal out of letting her help me open everything and get excited about each piece, reminding her that SHE picked everything out!
(A quick note: Looking for a great new go-to girls’ clothing brand for your preschooler? Our family has been LOVING the Millie Loves Lily line here on Zulily, and I highly recommend checking them out. They have a wide variety of styles and designs to choose from, and I’m betting you’ll easily find several pieces you and your preschooler both adore.)
3. make fashion a family affair
I find it to be really helpful to get input from my husband when my daughter is pushing back on a particular outfit. If she’s not sold, I’ll have my husband, Kevin, weigh in with lots of enthusiasm and compliments. Hearing that positive reinforcement from someone who isn’t me – a.k.a. the person trying to get her dressed and potentially harshing her vibe – usually helps her get on board with an outfit and come around.
4. allow for whimsy and play during predetermined times
If your child is one who really wants to take creative liberty with outfits, allow for that – but assign specific days or times for that. Maybe there’s a day of the week that your preschooler can have free rein (taking into account things like weather, of course) when it comes to an outfit (say, every Sunday or something).
Or maybe you come to an agreement that when it’s play time at home they can change up their look as long as they put away their clothes every time they change. This agreement will let your child know they’ll have a chance to express their creativity and exert their independence regularly when it comes to clothes, and so the rest of the time – when it works better to have them dress a bit more conventionally – there will likely be less push back as a result.
5. Listen when they complain about discomfort
A common issue with preschoolers and clothing is them telling you their clothes don’t feel comfortable. “This shirt is itchy!” “These pants are too tight!” “Ouch – I don’t like the way these shoes feel.” Acknowledge these complains and try to solve for them – and learn from them as well. Are there trends about the types of fabric your child feels most comfortable in? Do you need to size up on their pants to help with that too-tight feeling in the elastic waist? Can you remove tags to help with the itch factor? Instead of just brushing these off, try to work with your child and make sure they feel heard when they complain about discomfort to help diffuse some of that tension.
6. involve your child in laundry
Let them in on the process of washing, drying, folding, and putting away their clothes, which will help them have more ownership over them. They’ll learn to have more awareness around taking care of their clothes as well as appreciating them. And yes – your preschooler can absolutely help fold their laundry!
Go ahead and set your expectations, though, because the end result will NOT be Marie Kondo approved, but it will absolutely work and they’ll get a lot of pride out of it. I’d work with them to have them fold a handful of pieces from each load alongside you (with you managing the bulk of the folding), and then you can work together to put things away in their drawers and closet.