Toddlers are notoriously picky when it comes to, well, everything. And as a parent it's sometimes difficult to know which battles to fight, and which to let go. I learned early on, with my first child, that it's best to save my disagreements for things that really matter. A toddler dressing themselves? Yeah, not one of those disagreements that matter. I'm sorry, but I won't apologize for letting my toddler dress herself. In the end, it's not worth my time, effort, or energy.
When I started this parenting journey, I had a plan. Well, I thought I had a plan. Like most clueless first-time parents, my intentions were pure and my reality was nothing like I had envisioned. And before I knew it my baby had turned into an independent toddler with plans of her own. What I want was now at war with what she wanted (and often thought she needed), so I had to adjust accordingly and pick and choose my daily wars.
When it came to her daily outfits, it was best for me to follow her lead. If she was allowed to pick her own clothing, no matter how ridiculous I thought her choices may or may not have been, she was more confident, more self-assured, and more willing to listen in other areas of her life. So with that in mind, here are just a few reasons why I can't, and won't, apologize for letting my daughter be her true, authentic self:
Because It Boosts Her Confidence
Letting my toddler dress herself was way more important than just helping her develop he sense of fashion. It gave her sense of self, which helped her build her self-esteem and grow her independence. So much of her life was out of control, but choosing her own clothes gave her a sense of ownership over something small, yet significant.
Because It's Not A Big Deal
Clothing is a non-issue. Of all the battles I fight as a parent, this one is miniscule. If fashion can help her understand herself, or provide some kind of joy, so be it. I'll save my breath for something worth my concern.
Because It Teaches Her Responsibility
Picking out the day's clothes is one more thing on the long list of things to do. Why deny her the responsibility of doing it herself, regardless of what she chooses?
Because It Feeds Her Creativity
Have you ever studied a toddler's intricate and painfully picked out wardrobe? It's intense. My daughter used to sort and choose only the most wildly unmatched items. She'd then top them with as many accessories as possible. Necklaces. Bracelets. Sunglasses. Hats. Not only was she dressing herself, she was making herself a walking work of art.
Because It Helps Her Form Her Own Opinions
The best way to teach a toddler to think for themselves is to, you know, let them think for themselves. If I want my girl to grow up to be an independent thinker — and someone who isn't afraid to speak their mind — I have to let her make small decisions early on so she can begin to understand how to form her own opinions. Choosing her own clothing is a great start.
Because It's A Great Conversation Starter
When my toddler dressed herself, everyone stopped to stare and/or comment on how original her choices were. Again, it boosted her confidence, but also helped her learn how to converse with people who weren't her parents.
Because I Really Don't Care
When it comes down to it, my daughter's choice of clothing at any point in her life is her and hers alone, and if it makes her happy I am all for it. All I want, as her mother, is for her to be happy and healthy, independent and thriving. If anyone has a problem with it, oh well.