Why You Should Let Kids Dress Themselves

Jan 28 · 4 min read

What to Wear: Letting Kids Dress Themselves

As parents, we tend to make a lot of decisions for our kids. This can help them feel safe and secure, but it can also be an exercise in frustration for everyone involved. Unless your child has a special event (looking at you, school picture day), encouraging them to play dress up or giving them the freedom to dress themselves on a daily basis can feel like a win for everyone.

If you’re looking for added incentive, two of our favorite new books are Dress Like a Girl and Mary Wears What She Wants.

In Dress Like a Girl, a slumber party takes an empowering turn when the girls question what it means to dress “like a girl.” After exploring many traditional ideas, they decide that the best rule of thumb is to dress in a way that makes them feel the most like themselves. It’s hard to disagree!

Mary Wears What She Wants is based on the true story of Mary Edwards Walker, a trailblazing 19th-century doctor who was arrested many times just for wearing pants! The story encourages kids to march to the beat of their own drum, and features one of our favorite dads, who tells his inspirational daughter that “sometimes people get scared of what they don’t understand.”

Need more convincing? Here are four perks of letting kids dress themselves:

It gives them a sense of autonomy.

Allowing your child to have a choice in the type of clothing he or she wears will foster their sense of independence. And believe it or not, what they learn from their mistakes, even if it’s just a fashion faux pas, will help them make better choices going forward.

It could save you money.

You may have heard of the “pink tax,” where products marketed towards women are more expensive than their male counterparts. The same applies for children’s clothing and toys. A recent study found that when an item is offered in a variety of colors that includes pink, the pink version is the most expensive. So, if your child likes a nonpink color, save yourself a few bucks and let them get the hue they like best!

It will help them develop their own personal style.

We’re guessing that most famous designers were given the freedom to choose their own attire at a young age. Just like you have a personal style, your child will develop his or her own flair. Sure, you’ll influence what they like, but sitting back to see what they gravitate towards will offer you the reward of seeing what they like, and it may give you a few laughs along the way.

It’s a low risk way of being hands off.

Letting your children dress themselves is an easy way to give them some space in a way that doesn’t pose a risk to anyone. Added bonus: When everything can seem like a battle, avoiding the negotiation over clothing will save you energy … and give you ammo to win the next fight.

What do you think? Do you let your kids dress themselves? We’d love to hear any stories you are willing to share!

Optional next step: let them dress you for a week.

Read more about Dress Like a Girl and Mary Wears What She Wants

Dress Like a Girl

In these beautifully illustrated pages, a diverse cast of slumber party participants considers the most time-honored traditions for how to dress. If a lady should wear white in summertime, then how about donning a spacesuit? If team colors are apropos at sporting events, why not wear helmets and play ball?

Uplifting and resonant, and with a variety of interests ranging from sports to science to politics, this book is sure to inspire any young girl, instilling the idea that the best way to dress like a girl is the way that makes you feel most like YOU!

Mary Wears What She Wants

Once upon a time (but not that long ago), girls only wore dresses. And only boys wore pants.

Until one day, a young girl named Mary had an idea: She would wear whatever she wanted. And she wanted to wear pants!

This bold, original picture book encourages readers to think for themselves while gently challenging gender and societal norms.


Written by

Home to many classics of children’s literature like Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Charlotte’s Web, Little House, and Ramona.

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