05 June 2012

On getting dressed.. Or not.

Nope.. You are allowed a pink spotty scarf..

Ever since Sophie was old enough to talk (and maybe even before then) she has had very strong opinions about how she is going to dress.

The problem is that every morning has become an absolute struggle.. multiple outfit changes, tantrums, the entire contents of her wardrobe emptied across her bedroom floor and sometimes even after an hour of trying to get her dressed we are still no closer to getting her out the door.

While I am happy than my little girl has a strong sense of what she likes and does not like, I have no idea where this behaviour originated from.. I like nice clothes as much as the rest of us, but I usually throw on the first clean thing I find (which is usually jeans, a stripy top and my converse) and don't give it a second thought. I have no idea how she became so obsessed with clothes and how she looks and it does worry me a little.

A few nights ago she had a tantrum because her "pyjamas looked silly". I explained to her that it did not matter what her pyjamas looked like as she would be tucked up in her bed all night and the most important thing is that they are warm and cosy.. no-one cares what your pyjamas look like! But she was not convinced and that is what worries me.. how did this little girl learn to place so much value on how she looks? Is this something she will grow out of or is it the beginning of lifelong belief that our physical looks define our worth as a person (my gosh I hope not!)

I should add here that while we often tell Sophie that she looks lovely or how gorgeous she is (if you have a little girl it's impossible not too),  but we have always been very careful not to emphasise it too much and we are always trying to encourage self-worth based on non-physical attributes, such as "we were very proud of how well you played with your friends today at the park, Well done!" or "I really love this painting you did at school today, Can you tell me more about it?" (I'm reading a book at the moment about adding open ended questions onto the end of a statement when praising children.. but that's a post for another time).

Aside from what ever worries I have about my daughter's sense of self-worth, it's really the stress of each morning that is becoming a problem. We have tried choosing an outfit together the night before, we have tried laying out 3 possible (weather appropriate) choices and asking her to choose one, we have tried everything short of putting locks on her wardrobe!

And on the days when she manages to choose an outfit and get dressed without any complaining, you can be assured that an hour later she will be found up in her room.. getting changed again! (And again at lunch time, and again before going to the park, and again before dinner.. No wonder Tom feels like he spends his whole life doing laundry!)


Susan said...

this isn't something we've had to deal with. Minty has grown up in her cousin's boys hand me downs and it never seems to worry her. I'm not convinced it's anything we have or haven't done though - one of my friends really struggles with this with her daughter and they really aren't a family that places emphasis on material things or looks. hope you find a solution for Sophie - it's hard enough getting kids ready in the morning without a battle over clothes!!

Amanda said...

We have wardrobe issues here at the moment too only ours revolve around my big girl doing 'outfit changes' in the middle of the night, often into a fairy dress or 'pretty party dress' :) I was going to suggest the choosing the outfit together the night before but sounds as though you've already given that one a go. Hmmmm....

My daughter told me the other day that she didn't want to put leggings under her skirt (on a freezing cold day) because it 'looked silly' and I was baffled as to where such a comment came from. When I asked her who told her it looked silly, she couldn't explain.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things Katie and perhaps it's just a phase. Will Sophie have a school uniform next year? Maybe you could tell her that during the week you chose her outfit and let her choose it on the weekend days?

At Number 32 said...

Oh the joys! We have the same issue here, but with our BOY!! Yes, you've never met someone so fashion concious as our 4year old. Not sure where it comes from, but we did learn to deal with it.....the rule is he can change as many times as he likes but he has to fold and put away the last outfit first or he can't get changed the next day at all.....it has worked so far!! Good luck x

Anonymous said...

Katie, this is my life too. Matilda 4.5yrs is a NIGHTMARE with clothes. Everything is either "silly" or "ridiculous". She would happily were a shoestring strap dress in the middle of winter. I dread our mornings as it always ends in tears (usually her but often me too)!

We are certainly not a family that obsesses about clothes. We keep telling her it doesn't matter what you wear it's what's on the inside that counts. With 3 girls in the house I'm dreading our clothing future.

For me it's bring in school uniforms next year.
Oh nearly forgot we also change shoes 15 times too and then end up wearing too small shoes because they are more "pretty"'

Aaarrgggh - if you he any tips please pass them on to me.

Regards, kym

Shelley said...

oh I have a girl like that too. She tells me its not pretty enough when she doesn't like an outfit I've chosen. Got me stumped where she gets it from too, as I sit her in my trackies and uggies (defiently not pretty). She is slowly growing out of it though (shes 4.5) but now making some 'intersting' fashion choices :)

Anonymous said...

I was JUST like that myself growing up! My poor mom... I think she eventually made me pick out my outfit the night before, and no changing allowed. I don't even think it had to do with "looking pretty," maybe it was more of an identity thing, if that makes any sense. I still love clothes (and still change my outfits a bit before I'm ready to head out the door), but I'd say I have a pretty healthy/normal self image.

Anonymous said...

It also helped when I wore the same skirt, every day, for about a year straight in 2nd grade. Mom didn't argue, I think she was just glad I got dressed!

Quill and Ink Handmade said...

I've just started this phase with my little girl, Lyra. She's got such definite opinions on clothes at two-and-a-half, and like you, I wonder daily at where this trait came from. I'm the type of gal that doesn't even wear makeup, and owns only four pairs of shoes; whereas Lyra coordinates and matches and adds accessories better than I ever could. And corrects me when things aren't quite as harmonious as she'd like.
But, ah! All that washing!
I don't have any advice for you and sweet Sophie; but if you find a solution that works, please pass it on. I have a feeling that there are lots and lots of mama's in the same position with their headstrong girls :)

Happy Thursday!


Anonymous said...

Tell me about it! None of my daughter's reasons are related to fashion or looking pretty, it's all about too tight, too loose, too itchy, too scratchy. Even the trackie pants that I resorted to buying last week are no good. All she will wear is pyjamas! Love your blog, good luck with the house. We live in a little weatherboard too and love it. Kirsty.

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