Letting Kids Dress Themselves Is a Parenting Win

Should you let your kids dress themselves -- for school or otherwise? To me, the answer to this one is, "Why wouldn't you?" If they're old enough to have an opinion, they're old enough to choose their look.

Of course, letting my kids pick their outfits is pretty easy for me -- one child chooses clothes based on how they feel and what picture is on the front while the other wears a uniform to school nine months out of the year, so her choices are limited. When she can choose her own, she's old enough to ask if it's short or long sleeve weather and choose (mostly) accordingly.


After spending much of my teen years arguing with my mother about what was OK for me to wear ("You cannot wear that much black! What is wrong with you?"), I vowed when I had kids of my own to Just Not Care as long as they were weather-appropriate, acceptable for the occasion (no flip-flops to a nice dinner out), and not too revealing.

Prevailing parental wisdom on the web seems to back me up. There are pages and pages of reasons why it's a good idea. CafeMoms favor letting kids choose their own outfits, too. Letting kids choose their own clothes helps foster independence, it helps kids gain a sense of their own style, and allows them to learn how to match colors and patterns and to learn from mistakes ... like maybe wearing ankle socks and no tights on a 20-degree day was not the best idea. 

Of course, that means you have to let them look silly in public sometimes, and that's never easy. Right now my son insists on wearing his sister's old ladybug rain boots everywhere, and we haven't had a day below 90 yet this month (this past winter, it was snow boots all the time ... and fairy wings). My daughter will sometimes come downstairs in outfits of such tragic wrongness I have to bite back the laughter -- think stripes and plaids in colors that don't even nudge close to matching each other. But honestly, I hardly care what I look like when we are out and about, so why should I agonize over them?

And, they're kids. It's cute. A 3-year-old boy can totally pull off the ladybug boots, and a 6-year-old girl can rock the mismatched patterns. Now if they're 30 and still doing it ...

Do you encourage your kids to dress themselves? Why or why not?

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