Expert Parent Advice

3 Strategies to Avoid Clothing Battles

Most parents can relate to the morning battle over what to wear to school.  You cringe when she shows up at breakfast with a purple plaid skirt, a Mickey Mouse tank top that looks like it’s been worn for days and green flip flops.  Or maybe you selected the outfit the night before.  Deep down you know there’s no way in the world she’s actually going to wear it.  Now what?

I’m Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series.

Today, we’re talking about 4 simple strategies to avoid the power struggles related to clothing.

1. Create Outfits:  For younger children, pull outfits together on one hanger.  Gather matching pants, shirt and socks, and clip them to one hanger.  That gives her the power to choose her own outfit but gives you some peace of mind that it won’t be a fashion disaster.  It’s also best if you can hang the rod at a kid-friendly height so she can feel capable and independent by reaching it herself.

2. Respect Sensory Complaints:  Be aware that some kids are more sensitive to itchy tags, bulky seams and uncomfortable fabrics.  If your son has a fit when you suggest he wear a certain type of shirt because the tag itches or the fabric feels “icky” on his skin, respect that and remove those clothing choices from the mix.

3. Control the Environment:  You can’t control your child (at least not without a battle), but you can control the environment.  If flip-flops in February are out of the question, don’t battle about them. Simply remove them from the closet so they aren’t among the available options for school clothes.  If certain clothes aren’t appropriate for school, then have separate drawers or sections in the closet for school clothes and fun clothes.  Give her the power to choose anything she wants to wear as long as it comes from the school drawer

4. Let It Go:  The very best strategy to avoid power struggles and foster independence is to let it go and allow your child to make her own clothing choices.  You can provide some training about matching colors, but remember that fashion and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. If she goes to school in plaids and stripes, who cares?

It’s much more important that she feel independent and powerful because she has some control over her day. Giving her the power to select her own clothes gives her a big “hit” of positive power that will go a long way in fostering self-sufficiency and avoiding power struggles.

If her choice does result in a fashion disaster, don’t worry about what others think. Every teacher I know loves to see kids arrive for school in mismatched clothing because they know mom and dad recognize that child’s need for independence and positive power.

For more strategies on making the morning routine go more smoothly, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

For ongoing solutions to your parenting challenges, visit us often at for the Expert Parenting Advice Series. 

I’m Amy McCready for Kids ‘R’ Kids, and I’ll see you next time.