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Parenting Q&A: Getting Son Dressed Is Causing Such Distress!

Parenting Q&A: Getting Son Dressed Is Causing Such Distress!

Q. My two-year-old hates getting dressed.  It’s a daily struggle to get him into pants and a shirt.  Why did this happen so suddenly, he never minded being outfitted before?

A. The job of a two-year-old is to establish independence from mommy and daddy. The job of mommy and daddy is to help him understand boundaries and ground rules so his new found need to be independent isn’t harmful. Why so sudden the Tim Gunn attitude? Because he just realized he has the magical power of Choice.

To see the rest of Lonna's answer,


Go ahead, let him choose, but set those choices up for him. Only provide pants, shirts and socks you approve of and let him choose from those. Get the Spiderman costume out of the closet for a while if he’s choosing that for school. The teachable moment here is in telling him there are appropriate clothes for home and appropriate clothes for the outside world. Give him plenty of examples, would he wear his bathing suit in the snow? Would mommy wear her PJ’s to work? Parents should not be afraid to be firm with clothing rules. It isn’t a fashion judgment — it is a part of being in the real world. Most people frown upon anyone in sleepwear in public. If he throws a fit then the plans for the day are put off until he wears appropriate clothes.

— Lonna Corder

Parenting expert and Montessori school director, Lonna Corder has been doling out advice for 25 years as a teacher, parent/child consultant and on television. For more information, visit

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Join The Conversation
MaggieLei MaggieLei 8 years
My two-year old is not fighting what to wear, but instead, boycotting the entire process. I am sure it is still independence related. He would rather play. We've had to make getting dressed into a game or sing, "If you're happy and you know it put on pants!" Other times we've had to say, "We're not going over to your friend's house if you don't get dressed." Still other times, when it is necessary, we just dress him. I wish it were as easy as merely letting him choose his shirt!
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