Do Stripes and Dots Match? A guest post from blogger of Sweet Lemons and mom of 3...

A very real take on the battle all of us as parents, grandparents, step-parents have to face. The battle is real... when it comes to clothes and letting your kids make decisions can and will help them the rest of their life.

We are featuring a guest post from Amanda's blog "Sweet Lemons." She is a mom of three and she is a real-life blogger of a working moms struggles and wins. Below she shares how she decided whether to let her kids decide what to wear or not.

 

As moms, we have daily battles with our children from big to little, silly to serious.  Everything from eating vegtables to cleaning rooms to manners and chores to acceptable friendships. There is a thin line between when to push and when to let your child do as he or she pleases. 
As a control freak, it is difficult for me to watch my children do things that are less than perfect.  Doing a puzzle with my toddler makes me want to pull my hair out. Why can't he see that the end pieces must be on the outside?!?!  And then coloring, why can't they just stay IN the lines?!
However, I have learned that I need to stop controlling so much and just let my kids learn who they are and be that person. 
I have learned that the battles I should engage in are those that are for safety reasons (yes, you must wear your seat belt even if its uncomfortable), those for health reasons (yes, you must eat your peas before you get a second slice of pizza) and those to make them a better person (no, you can not get what you want until you say please).  However, most battles are not worth my time and energy. 
And, the biggest battle that I have learned to let go of is that of clothing.

I know many people that lay their children's clothes out for them every night.  They make sure their colors always match and they wear all pieces of clothes as would typically be expected (you know, meaning you don't wear a dress with jeans or a fur vest over a t-shirt).  This is the total opposite of what I do, and I actually think it benefits my children and teaches them lessons in ways that they don't even realize that they are learning. 
That's it.  Otherwise, my kids can wear what they want.  And it can get very interesting some days.  Princess loves to wear anything "pretty".  So that means we have flowered skirts, mixed with striped dresses with multiple necklaces and scarves and then sneakers because its "gym day" in school.  Or then there is Lala who thinks that all shades of the same color match and therefore will have one 8 shades of blue in on outfit.  Lil Man has been dressing himself since he was 2.5 years old.  He typically matches perfectly; however, he has been known to wear shorts over sweats and t-shirts over long sleeves when he just isn't ready to make the summer to fall transition yet. 
As much as some of their outfits make me cringe sometimes, it also makes me so happy.  I am allowing my kids to have independence in a world that is so controlled by every adult in their lives.  I tell them when to wake up, when to sleep, when to eat, when to bathe, when to play outside and when to get in the car.  Their teachers and coaches tell them what to do.  Everywhere they go, there are rules that they are just dying to break.  They really do not have much control of anything on a daily basis.  However, clothing choice gives them control. 
Having independence is important.  It makes a child feel important.  It makes them proud. My children love to show off the outfits they picked out and they love when someone compliments their pick, because THEY picked it! 
Allowing them to pick their own clothes gives them a sense of responsibility. They need to think about their day and decide what is appropriate.  Princess loves skirts, but she knows on gym class days she must wear a skirt that has shorts connected to it or leggings.  She can't wear a long skirt because it will get in her way and she can't run in it.  So, in kindergarten she is already learning that she has to think ahead and plan something that will affect her all day. 
Self-confidence is built when children can pick their own clothes.  By wearing what they want, they pick what makes them feel good.  Lala prefers stretchy pants or mesh sports shorts and t-shirts while Princess prefers dresses and skirts.  By wearing what they want they feel comfortable and confident.  Feeling good in your clothes makes you more confident as a person. Imagine if you are wearing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, how willing would you be to speak up in a crowd or to approach someone that you may want to be friends with?
We often underestimate children.  We think that something as necessary and simple as clothes has no bearing on their personality, but that couldn't be more wrong.  When you let a child pick their clothes you are giving them the opportunity to express their personality and discover who they are. 

As hard as it may be to watch you child pick out an outfit that you wouldn't even dress a clown in, you need to remember that its not about you, it's about them.  They are learning and growing and you are giving them so much by such a little gesture. 
 Make sure your kids' drawers are filled with clothes that are weather and size appropriate and then next time you have the urge to pick out a perfectly nice and matching outfit, step back.  Allow them to do it for themselves and see what happens.  And don't forget to take pictures of the most outrageous outfits they choose and use have that in your back pocket for when they are teenagers! 

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