Does your kid fight you or have a meltdown every time he or she needs to get dressed? Here are 6 proven strategies to avoid the daily temper tantrums and make getting dressed fun!
Has your child hit the terrible twos yet? Have their temper tantrums started before they even reached this age?
At some point, children go from being small, sweet babies to toddlers with a mind of their own.
This is great for them – it allows them to better understand their emotions and behavior. But, this is not without some challenges for the parents along the way.
If your strongly-opinionated child has already experienced a few tantrums, don’t worry. These are pretty common and they happen for a handful of reasons. Some children throw a tantrum at the thought of getting dressed or just because they don’t like the food you’ve made for them.
Still, no matter why your little one is acting up, there are plenty of ways to reel them back in.
Here are six methods you can use to make getting dressed a tantrum-free part of the day.
1. Offer Options
Maybe your child is embracing their ability to start making decisions for themselves. If this is ending up in an argument every time it’s time to get dressed, meet your little one halfway.
Giving them full control might mean they end up in a princess dress and sneakers for three days straight. Taking all control away could strain your relationship and cause other toddler tantrums throughout the day.
Here’s the sweet spot: laying out a few options of appropriate clothing for the day, then letting them take the reins from there. It’s much different to get dressed for school than it is for the beach, after all. Grab a couple animal shirts and jeans for their class trip to the zoo or a few bathing suit options to go swimming in.
This ensures your child is ready for the weather outside and the day’s events, without feeling like their independence was taken away.
2. Make a Morning Checklist
If your child is, in fact, ready to have more independence, give it to them in a way that works for your household. Make getting dressed a part of their morning to-do list. This list should include the basics like eating breakfast, brushing their teeth, and picking an outfit for the day.
Such an approach allows your child to wear whatever they want, within reason. Tell them to complete their list by a certain time every morning. This way, if they come out of their room wearing something ridiculous, or not suited for the weather, you can offer suggestions on what to change.
It may take a little more time to do things this way, but, you’ll be able to work together without dealing with temper tantrums. The list provides a sense of autonomy as your child begins to do things on their own, and you stepping in teaches them a bit about accountability.
3. Dress Your Child ASAP
Is your little one really too little to pick out their clothes right now? But they still give you an incredibly hard time when you try to do it. Try this: dress them before they’re even awake enough to throw a tantrum.
When you go into their room to wake them up, dress them as you’re saying good morning.
Before your child even knows it, they’ll be ready to have breakfast and get out the door!
You can use this trick right after a bath or following naptime, too. Just have the next outfit ready to go as you’re transitioning your child from one activity to another.
4. Make Getting Dressed Fun
Sometimes, the best trick for stopping tantrums is simply to have fun.
Take on this task relaxed, happy, and energetic. Build up the hype as you’re talking to your child about going to school or to grandma’s house that day. If this isn’t exciting enough for them, sing a song or play a game while you get ready.
Songs can be anything from Disney classics to new releases they like to a special dress-up song you both make up together. A good getting dressed game is to pick out clothes for each other (hint, use options!) or to see who can be ready first in the morning.
5. Use an Incentive
When a few options and a lot of fun still aren’t enough, try using incentives. Set down some ground rules for your child about getting dressed. Then, tell them how they can get the incentives.
For example, if your little one allows you to dress them without fuss, they get an incentive. Or, if they can get dressed on their own in something appropriate for the day, they get an incentive.
The best way to do this is to implement a tracking system with each “incentive.” So, tell your child they need to get somewhere between 5-10 points of doing well with getting dressed. Then, they collect these points for one big incentive (like a cookie, a stamp, or a new coloring book).
6. Be Reasonable
At the end of the day, if your child wants to wear sneakers to the beach or a hat to grandma’s, is it really the end of the world? Remember, he or she is young and full of imagination.
While you want them to look their best and be appropriate for school, church, or a long car ride, you still owe it to them to encourage their self-expression. Sometimes, the best way to prevent a tantrum is to not give any pushback at all.
Let your child wear their favorite t-shirt two days in a row or bring their new hat everywhere.
With time, they’ll be more understanding of why you have certain wardrobe rules in place, and you’ll find yourself being more patient with them, too.
Temper Tantrums, Growing up, and Building Confidence
Tantrums aren’t always the result of a cranky child. This really is a time in which your boy or girl is discovering a deeper layer of their emotions and how to communicate well with others. It’s part of growing up.
Of course, this isn’t to say you should encourage temper tantrums or just sit by while they happen. But, the tools above can help you deal with them in a positive, effective way.
Over time, your child will come to realize the difference between communicating well and saying what they want, versus acting like kind of a brat. They’ll start to build confidence instead of stubbornness.
Here are some other ways you can encourage confidence in your child.