COUSINS play an interesting role in ones life – depending on where we live in relation to our broader family. They are like sisters and brothers but somehow bring an additional dimension of innate connection! And for my family cousins often meant an ongoing swapping of clothes… both a helpful (for parents) and exciting (for children) activity. Yet still the topic of clothes is never a simple one; particularly for children.
CLOTHES seem to bring challenges from an ever increasingly young age! As parents, we want our infant to look the cutest, the prettiest, the smartest! However, putting fashion aside for a moment, it is more important to be aware of body temperature and comfort – and the ease with which we can dress and undress our little ones! The more fuss we make about clothing in the early months, the more conscious they will be come as they move into toddlerhood.
I have worked with parents who think their toddler of 20 months should choose their clothes and then cannot bear the fuss and bother of the choosey four year old, not realizing that they set themselves up for this morning headache!
Young children get overwhelmed when there is too much choice – so to manage the morning rituals with the minimum fuss, remove the out-of-season clothes (i.e. pack away winter clothes out of sight while we are in summer). Then from around the age of two, or when your child seems to pay any specific interest in what he/she is wearing, offer two options for a t-shirt e.g. red or blue and the same for shorts. Have one pair of essential sandals – so when asking your child to put on shoes, it is clear what shoes he should be using. The one pair that belongs to him! While this might be going for a minimalist approach from the parents’ perspective, it is giving your child clear limited choices, which is what he is wanting – to know where the boundaries are and what is allowed or not allowed, is creating a safe space in which choices can be made. Otherwise we paralyse our children through overwhelming them with choices and the response will be “I don’t know”. With limited choices they can work out what they want, or like best with ease, creating confidence in their choices at a young age enables them to grow in confidence and verbalize their needs, likes and dislikes with clarity. These are important skills to build on a solid foundation as they move out into day care, and school.
Apply the same approach to a toy shelf or play room – pack away some toys so your child can see the games and toys to choose from. Rotate the toys weekly or monthly and it is like having Christmas every time, as he (re)discovers toys and enjoys playing with them all over again!