Children & Clothing Battles

“MOM!!! I have nothing to wear!”

“MOM!!! I’m only going to wear pink, twirly dresses from now on!”

“MOM!!! The only pants I like are sweatpants with elastic waists!”

“MOM!!! I know it’s snowing, but I have to wear shorts today!”

Have you every heard any of these – or similar – statements?  Ever have battles over clothing in your house?  Does each morning bring fights between you and your child about what they can (and cannot) wear to school?  Clothes are a big deal in my house.  With two young girls particular about what they wear, I frequently hear comments like the above.   So what’s a parent to do when their child begins asserting their own style and no longer wears the cute outfits you bought without complaint?

Set some ground rules. I pretty much have one in my house: I don’t care what you wear as long as it’s clean.  You may have some others: no skirts above a certain length, no low-cut tops, no underwear showing…you’ll have to pick a rule or two that suits your family.  Keep the list short though, the longer it is, the tougher it will be to enforce.

Is the fight really worth it? Often times it isn’t.  Does it really do anyone harm if your preschooler wears her princess dress to school?  Your 3rd grader only wears Broncos gear? Your high-schooler wears shorts all year ’round (in Michigan).  Probably not.  Identify times when you insist on “appropriate attire” i.e. church, visiting Grandma, family pictures, airplane rides (that was my mom’s rule – still don’t know why).  If it isn’t one of those special times – let it go.

Give them the responsibility. Older kids want certain clothes? Tell them to save up their money and buy them on their own.  Are they frustrated when their favorite top is dirty? Let them do their own laundry.  Are they irritated with the way their clothes look or fit?  Teach them how to iron and make simple alterations.

Get creative. If your child is really passionate about their attire – harness that creativity!  Embrace their enthusiasm and engage your budding fashionista.  Sewing classes, drawing lessons, books on fashion design – try checking out these resources instead of spending your energy fighting your kid.  Who knows, you might have the next Vera Wang on your hands!  As someone who spent part of high school wearing nothing but flower-child dresses, Birkenstocks, and crystal necklaces, I can appreciate that clothing preferences can be an ever-changing expression of a child’s personality.  Do we really want to squash it?

My solution to preschooler’s must-have item of the moment (simple black dress): design it & make it ourselves!

Top photo by: rlcasey


Craft Time: Good for Our Mental Health

Whether it’s at preschool, elementary school, home, girl scouts, or even in the psychologist’s office – I have found that almost all kids love crafts. Even tough 12-year-old boys can usually be talked into making a collage out of sports magazines or decorating a poster for their rooms.

But sometimes I wonder what kids really get out of arts and crafts. Is it really worth it to lug out all those craft supplies and then (ugh) put them all back? And what about the psychological effects of crafting – is it something I should be including in my professional work? And what about for us adults? Should one of our New Year’s resolutions be to spend more time at the easel (or sewing machine, or potter’s wheel, or table saw)?

Below are some thoughts about the benefits of participating in arts and crafts…and I hope to hear your thoughts on some I am sure I have missed.

It’s creative. Ok, so this is a no-brainer. But I think it is important to remember that kids (and adults too) don’t have much time to be fully creative in their everyday lives. Math problems, gym class, homework assignments, chores at home – most of these things need to be done in a certain way. But art is something different. When presented in an open-ended way, kids are free to do/create/design whatever they please.

It’s messy. An important part of learning and development includes experiencing different sensations in a tactile way. Squishy, sticky, pokey, fuzzy. Craft supplies can provide kids with opportunities to feel all these sensations. In addition, arts and crafts time allows us to get some paint on our hands and glue under our nails. Most kids enjoy creating a mess – and teaching them to help clean up afterwords is an important benefit too.

It’s not about perfection. I am an anti-perfectionist. And I encourage others around me to forego perfectionism as well. Kids and adults who hold themselves to such high standards often struggle to enjoy life, try new things, and be tolerant of others. Crafts can be a wonderful way to help kids get used to the idea of enjoying the creative process, instead of getting hung up on a perfect end result.

It’s a good way to get talking. If you’ve ever been part of a quilting bee, a sewing circle, or any kind of craft group you know that the main purpose of the group is often not the craft, but the conversations that happen in between. When our hands and eyes are busy creating, it often makes it easier for us to talk about tough things. Having trouble getting your tween to open up? Teenager not talking like she used to? Try doing a craft together and see what happens.

Need some ideas about where to start in the crafting world? Check out Family Fun Magazine, take a class at Michael’s; or for older kids and grown-ups check out Made (one of my favorite blogs), or V and Co.