Choosing My Parenting Battles

Sophie is going through an “I”ll do it myself” attitude with respect to getting dressed and picking her own outfits. It used to be that I’d lay out her clothes each night and she’d happily put them on the next day; no questions asked.

Well, that’s all changed. She has opinions, and she’s not afraid to express them.

One such opinion came up the other morning when Sophie declared she was wearing her purple snow boots to preschool (with red leggings and a red shirt). Now granted, it’s winter. But it’s also San Diego. No snow. Not even rain that day.

Knowing this was a battle I would surely lose (and not enjoy winning), I decided to compromise. Okay, I told Sophie. You can wear your snow boots to school. But put a regular pair of shoes in your backpack in case you want to change them later. I guess Sophie thought that was a good compromise because she agreed and off she went.

The topic of letting children pick their clothes, thus expressing themselves, has many opinions (which I quickly learned after posting the boot situation on Facebook that morning). My friends posted such great responses and advice on how to handle this type of situation. I really admired my mom friends who proudly admit their children love to don hobbit capes, Cinderella dresses, even jeans instead of pajamas to bed. And why not? They’re only young once, and soon enough, they’ll begin the stages of self-consciousness and start placing limits on their own expression.

One very helpful comment was made by Sophie’s former childcare provider who suggested the following to us moms.

Ask your children what makes them feel safe/confident/happy about wearing snow boots or the same outfit every day … Their answers may surprise you, which may help steer you to other purchases and them to other outfits. Sometimes it’s a color or fit and sometimes it’s because their favorite teacher or friend gave them a compliment when they wore that item before.

So Sophie wore her snow boots to preschool. Her friends loved them, and her feet stayed warm. And most importantly, Sophie felt happy and empowered.

The best part was hearing from Sophie’s teacher that she eventually took the boots off because (and I’m quoting), “It’s too hard to sit crisscross applesauce in snow boots on the carpet.”

I guess she’ll turn out okay after all!

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