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Chances are you put your parents through this, and if you have kids of your own, they’ll do the same to you: From all of the adorable clothing you’ve so carefully chosen for them, when they go to dress themselves, they pick out part of a Halloween costume to go with their favorite swimsuit on a cold winter day. Do you fight them on it? Or do you do as Chrissy Teigen did Tuesday night with daughter Luna, and just go with the flow?
“If anyone saw me and Luna at night + market tonight, just know she dressed herself ok, I pick my battles,” Teigen tweeted, along with a boost for her favorite Thai restaurant. After cries of “pictures or it didn’t happen,” she posted a photo of Luna in an outfit that’s honestly not that crazy for a 2-year-old. She’s in a gray tutu, a T-shirt that says “going to bed so mom can watch bravo,” a pink beaded necklace, and a pink faux-fur jacket.
o you want proof? her shirt says “going to bed so mom can watch bravo” (I approve of this part) pic.twitter.com/7PXEaUGvrB
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) April 18, 2018
Still, Teigen’s followers felt her pain, replying with photos of their own childhood fashion choices or their kids’ current ones.
“I made a pin that said ‘I dressed myself today’ for when she had on a tutu with pajamas and a tiara,” wrote @jcapulet.
I made a pin that said "I dressed myself today" for when she had on a tutu with pajamas and a tiara.
— Sharon McGowan (@jcapulet301) April 18, 2018
“This is not the hill I will die on” I mutter under my breath every morning while dressing my daughter
— Katie Gerarge (@KGerarge) April 18, 2018
It’s a big milestone of childhood development when toddlers begin to dress themselves. Experts tell parents to encourage this process as much as possible, even though it requires every last ounce of patience. While their sense of fashion may be, well, not-quite mainstream, fighting them on the aesthetics of their wardrobe choice is counterproductive.
“As long as your kids are covered up properly, as long as they’re not going out in their underwear, and they’re dressed appropriately for the weather, I think giving them autonomy is a wonderful thing to do,” child and adolescent psychologist Barbara Greenberg tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
When their OOTD is not exactly appropriate for the weather, Greenberg says it’s still a good idea to begin with some praise.
“The way that you give them the feedback is you start with the positive —’That’s really fancy! You’re picking your own clothes. I’m so glad you’re doing that’ — and you point out how proud you are that they want to be independent,” she says. “And then, for example, if they want to wear a pair of shorts when it’s the winter weather, you explain to them that it’s going to be cold, and then you make a suggestion.”
They can always wear shorts and bathing suits under their warmer clothing, after all.
“Preschoolers are also at a stage where they’re trying to assert their independence and test limits,” Alanna Levine, M.D., a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told Parents magazine. “Getting dressed provides an opportunity to put both things into practice.”
Some experts believe that fashion can be a coping mechanism for children, just as it is for adults. “The bottom line is that children want to feel good and clothing is one of the first things that either contributes to feeling good or vice versa,” parenting author Maureen Healy told the New York Times.
And yes, it is hard for parents to let go of the fear that others will look at our children and judge us for their appearance. That is presumably why Teigen posted her disclaimer.
“They really need to understand that what’s more important than their embarrassment and what people think is how their children feel about themselves,” Greenberg says. “Your children’s feelings and your relationship with your children is so much more important than what other people are going to think.”
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