November 9, 2011

The Clothing War

For as long as SB has shown an interest in clothing, I have allowed her to chose what to wear each day. Toddlers have such little control over their environments; I try to let SB feels she has some whenever possible.

I honestly couldn't care less what she puts on. If she wants to leave the house in clashing clothes, a tutu and tiara, that is fine with me. As long as it is appropriate for the weather. And that is where we have started to have some issues.

About a month or so ago, she wanted to wear a long sleeve, fleece top. In 80+ degree weather. I gently tried to explain that she would be too hot. That resulted in her throwing herself on the floor of her closet and having a major tantrum.

I stuck to my guns. I left her alone in her room until she calmed down, then gently redirected her interest until she had selected what I felt was more appropriate attire.

Later than day I vented about the situation on Twitter, and someone (I wish I could remember who so I could thank her) said, "Why not let her wear the fleece? She'll go outside, get hot and ask to change."

Brilliant! I loved it. It would enable her to feel she was maintaining control. And, she could learn something without feeling I'd forced her into it. I loved the idea, and vowed to follow that approach moving forward.

Then this weekend the weather turned. It was cold and damp. And SB wanted to wear summer clothes. To me, this was a different scenario. Being hot and having the ability to shed clothes is one thing. Being cold is quite another, at least to my way of thinking.

I don't feel I am being a good mom if I let my child go out in the cold without being properly dressed. I tried to compromise; telling SB she could wear the clothes she had selected as long as she put a jacket on over them.

Another closet floor tantrum. More frustration on my part. So I figured I would go ahead and try the technique. I would let her go outside in her summer clothes and be cold. Surely she would want to put something else on.

We went outside. She immediately said, "Brrr!" I suggested we go inside to get her a jacket, and she agreed. But once we got inside and I tried to put on said jacket, tantrum on the laundry room floor.

I don't look at these types of situations as something to "win" or "lose." I think there are times I can give SB freedom, and times I can't. I just wish I could figure out how to approach the latter so that we don't BOTH feel we are losing.
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