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The Morning Clothes Battle!

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

“I don’t want to wear that! I can dress myself!” Ah, the morning clothes battle.  Demmeke sent me an email via our  iPhone App and she said she is not ready to surrender in the “what to wear to school” war with her kids.  She has girls! Actually, the struggle over choosing clothes may be a struggle for either gender and interestingly may start at young ages.  The best time to begin good habits and decrease “the morning clothes struggle” is when your children are young.

One of the first things I learned as a  parent was that it was easier to lay out the clothes the night before.  If you let each child help decide the night before and have the “rule” that once chosen that is what will be worn in the morning, everyone knows what to expect. I do remember one of our children always wanting to wear one of 2 favorite Nike sweat suits. He had a blue and a red one.

We did go through some struggles about his choice of school clothes until I decided that a “slightly worn” nylon sweat suit was not the worst thing in the world and he managed to wear them for 5 days and only required 1 washing.  Some times you just have to choose your battles and that was one that I finally decided was not worth fighting. After about a year of blue and red “suits” as he liked to call them, I think he moved on to other choices.

I also think that school uniforms make everyone’s life easier.  Once our children were required to wear a school uniform (in both public and private schools) I realized that it would be pure genius to have all school children in uniforms. I know that some feel that making all children wear a uniform” stifles their creativity” or something along those lines, I disagree. Uniforms are a great equalizer and put everyone on the same playing field.

It is analogous as to why we don’t serve soft drinks in school. If you want to let your son or daughter wear t-shirts with weird messages on the front or inappropriate shorts or tank tops after school while drinking soft drinks, that is a parental decision. But to make teachers and principals spend time “policing” clothes choices seems to be a huge waste of teaching time, especially when our schools are in dire need of academic improvements.

There have been numerous studies to show that children actually behave better in school and also have improvement in grades when uniforms are worn.  I thought my own children were creative enough choosing either a white or blue shirt and life seemed easy. I also think it is far cheaper to buy uniforms than to try to stay up with the latest trend in often expensive items.

Lastly, I do recall some parents telling me that by sending your child to school in pajamas when they don’t want to get ready in the morning often “fixes” the clothes battle.  Fortunately that is one parenting experience I never had to do, but let me know if that works for you!

That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.

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2 Responses to “The Morning Clothes Battle!”

  1. Amy Milligan says:

    I found the biggest hurdle on the clothes battle was that I needed to be okay with my daughter’s choices. She has all these (what I think) really cool outfits but she wants to wear the ole hello kitty shirt that she has had forever. I have finally embraced the “who cares” attitude so the arguments are less and I have more success on the really important occasions! p.s. uniforms are a godsend!

  2. AG says:

    As a counsellor who works with kids, the morning clothes battle has alot to do with trying to exert independence and feeling confident about decision making. Some other good options in addition to the great advice of choosing your battles, is setting out 2-3 outfits and letting the child choose between the choices. This allows the child to feel good about getting to choose (and confident/independent) and allows mom to somewhat have a say in what the child wears. For the kids who like to wear the same thing over and over and over, the parent could casually ask one day, “so i guess we should donate the rest of your clothes?” and of course the child will exclaim “why?!” and the parent can respond with “oh I just assumed that you don;t want them as you wear the hello kitty shirt everyday.” The child then can “choose” to keep the rest of the clothes and wear them.

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