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Should You Allow Kids to Wear What They Want?

by Kay Ireland, studioD

If you're constantly fighting with your child over clothes, you're not alone -- a "Highlights" magazine poll found that 78 percent of parents engaged in fashion battles with their kids. On one hand, letting your child wear what he wants allows him to express himself. On the other hand, it could mean battles over what is and isn't appropriate. If you provide choices with room for independence, clothing battles don't have to be a daily occurrence in your home.


When you allow your child to wear what he wants, you give him the room to express and define himself as a person. Even young children use outward appearances to tell the world about their likes, dislikes and personality, so letting your child choose his own clothes gives him the chance to define his character through style. That independence also gives your child control in a world where he doesn't get much. After all, as a parent, you probably make the big choices -- education, extracurricular activities, free time and discipline are all up to you. By giving him the choice to wear what he wants, you help him feel more in control of some part of his life.


While allowing your child to wear what he wants might help foster an independent spirit, it can also make you cringe. The world can be judgmental and your child's clothes could cause peers and adults to make assumptions about his character and personality based on his outward appearance alone. What's more, schools and other organizations might have rules regarding clothing, and allowing your child to wear whatever he wants could result in breaking those rules.

Healthy Compromise

Compromise can help you get the best of both worlds when it comes to clothing battles. Rather than fighting over giving your child complete control versus completely taking over his fashion choices, let him take the wheel -- within reason. By giving your child two or three choices when it comes to his clothing -- "Do you want to wear the red pants or the blue pants? Should we buy the shirt with a skull or the shirt with a football?" -- you hand over some control without giving free rein for clothing choices. That way, you ensure that your child is dressed appropriately while still giving him the opportunity to define his style and feel independent.

Choosing Battles

In the end, it boils down to choosing your battles with your child. If you're constantly nagging him over clothing choices, he may be indifferent when you approach him about more important issues, like behavior or schoolwork. By stepping back and thinking about whether or not clothing is a battle you want to begin, you might be more inclined to allow your child to wear what he wants so you can focus on something more important instead. Of course, if appearances and clothing are important to you, this may be a battle you're willing to fight.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

Photo Credits

  • Nick White/Photodisc/Getty Images