As the seasons change (and as kids grow!), new clothes are often needed. I always found that my children, even when they were quite young, were much happier getting dressed when they were wearing something they liked. And the best way to get them clothes that they liked was to take them shopping with me.
I know what you may be thinking – it’s so much harder to shop with the kids in tow. And that is true. But I realized that putting a little time and energy into the shopping experience meant much less time begging, cajoling and otherwise fighting with my children to get them to wear the clothes that I had picked out.
The benefits of getting your child’s input
I found several benefits from asking my children what they wanted to wear.
– I usually took each child separately when we shopped for clothes and it was a very nice one-on-one experience for both of us.
– We had some meaningful conversations. My children would talk about what they liked and why. When they realized that I was listening, they really started opening up, and the conversations were really enjoyable. I learned what they liked to wear and then the discussion moved to other areas – things that they liked in school or what they enjoyed doing with friends. Shopping together to buy clothes for my children became opportunities to bond.
– My children actually wore the clothes I bought. No more money wasted on clothes that were constantly passed over and left hanging in the closet.
– We had fewer arguments because my children actually wanted to get dressed in the clothes they had chosen.
Shopping can be a learning experience
As a teacher as well as a parent I couldn’t help but look for ways to make the shopping experience educational, as well.
– Practice making decisions was part of the shopping process. My children needed to decide what they liked from racks and racks of clothes.
– A little math practice popped up when my children had to decide which clothing they would get with the amount of money I was willing to spend. When my children were very young, I didn’t put the limit in terms of money, but simply told them that they could choose three or four outfits, since that fit in our budget. So little ones had to count to keep track of how much they were selecting, and as the children got older, they had to think about how they wanted to best spend the amount in the budget.
– As my children scoured the racks for clothes to try on, it was an opportunity for them to hone their observation skills. Finding matching clothing meant looking for similar colors or patterns. Also, I would guide my children by telling describing some of the clothing they needed and asking them to find it. For example, I would tell my child to look for long-sleeved tee shirts or button-down shirts, for example. Or I would direct them to look for pants with belt loops or without loops, depending on their age.
Practice at home first
Before hitting the mall with my children, I gave them opportunities at home to practice some of the skills they would need for shopping. In this way they were more prepared and the shopping trip was successful. For example, give your child practice making choices and sticking to those choices. This can happen at mealtime or even at bedtime when choosing the stories to be read.