Make Rules, Not Wars: How to End the Clothing Battle

Most tots have an abundance of adorable outfits and clean clothes ready to wear. So why can the simple task of getting them dressed feel like all-out war? From temper tantrums about sock seams to pitched fits over a dreaded color, parents are brought to their knees begging children to get off the floor and into their clothes. Please. Get. Dressed!

The clothing battle is not a fun one, but the good news is that it's also not a lost cause. Just like with any good fight, if you want to succeed, you need to be prepared, so we've got a few tips for keeping the peace while getting your kid dressed.

Plan Outfits First, and Then Let Her Choose

Take a few extra minutes at the beginning of the week to put together a few mommy-approved outfits, and then let your child pick from your choices. This way, she'll feel like she has a say in the matter, and you won't cringe as she walks down the stairs.

Remove Clothes That Don't Fit

Children, especially toddlers, are both sensitive and dramatic when it comes to dealing with discomfort. Not a great match. When a pair of shorts is too tight or loose, a tot's first reaction might be a full-blown tantrum. Avoid this by getting rid of all items that could result in disaster simply due to size.

Remove Clothes That You Can't Stand

Toddlers and adults don't always share the same fashion sense. Try removing any items from your child's room/dresser that you find offensive, torn, stained, or just plain ugly. If it's not even an option, then she won't pick it. Problem solved.

Separate Wardrobe Into Play, School, and Fancy

My daughter used to completely lose it when I suggested that her Christmas or Easter dresses were not preschool appropriate. After many struggles and a lot of thought, I decided to organize her threads into categories: play clothes, school clothes, and fancy clothes. Now, she knows to pick from each section for the appropriate activity, and expensive items don't get destroyed on the playground.

Set a Limit on Number of Wears

If you have been lucky enough to score a Frozen princess piece of clothing, your tot is probably getting a lot of wear out of it these days. Or, like mine, she wants to wear it every single day. For this reason, it helps to create a limit for how many days a favorite item can be worn in a row. Set the limit, stick to it, and the struggle will fade.

Allow Her to Accessorize

Kids who are just looking for a little extra control will allow Mama to choose the clothes if you then allow them the freedom to pick the accessories (shoes, hairbands, socks, hats, etc.).

Make It a Game

Turn the battle into a game. Have her try to match a pair of pants to a shirt to a pair of socks. Pick a color of the day, and ask her if she can wear items with that color. Dare her to wear something in her closet that she hasn't worn in a while. How fast can she put on a pair of pants and a t-shirt?

Choose Your Battles

I would love for my children to look like they just walked off the pages of a Crewcuts catalog, but there comes a point when we have to choose our battles. Mismated socks: OK. Tank top, shorts, and no jacket in the dead of Winter: not OK. Shorts with leggings: OK. Puffy jacket in the dead of Summer: not OK. Mismatched shoes: OK. Mommy's high heels: not OK.

Let It Go

Take a few tips from the popular Frozen song, and let it go! Currently, my son will only wear socks that he can pull up above his knees, my daughter will only wear shades of purple, and (while I'm at it) my husband still loves to pop his collar — so be it! It's not the end of the world. Letting children have fun with their clothes is a harmless way of allowing them to express themselves all while having a little control in their otherwise adult-ruled lives.