For very young children, getting them to wear a new outfit is often as simple as speaking in an excited tone of voice. “Guess what day it is? It’s the day we get to put on your pretty new dress! Yay!” But children get older, and stop seeing eye-to-eye quite as easily. Here are a few ways to minimize tantrums when it’s time to put on that fancy girls dress or boys suit!
Power struggles. It’s not about you, it’s not about the outfit, it’s about who gets to decide. Don’t fall into their trap – there’s no point arguing with that tiny tyrant! Use your superior powers of manipulation to make dress-up time go easier. Reverse psychology is a proven technique.
- “Well, all the big girls will be dressed up, but if you want to be the only one wearing overalls, I’ll just tell them you’re not old enough to wear a big girl dress yet.”
Send this message loud and clear: Tantrums will get you nowhere! If your child is having a meltdown, do your best not to let them see you get stressed (even if the clock is ticking). You can always do something else. Simply put down the gown and move swiftly to a new activity, like doing some primping of your own. Sometimes disengaging is the only way to assert control over the situation.
- “Since you’re upset, I’m going to go put on my outfit. Let me know when you feel better.”
Draw their attention to the similarities between a favorite character’s outfit and their new ensemble (a girls pageant dress, for instance). Is your child infatuated with any fairytale character in particular?
- “I got you a blue dress, just like Anna in Frozen!”
No child is immune to the charms of sweets. In moments of frustration, it’s tempting to respond to your child with threats of time-outs and no TV. Instead, see if the promise of a future treat does the trick.
- “Instead of fighting, wouldn’t it be more fun it we got to have popsicles later?”
Children learn by imitation. You know, from mortifying experience, that children repeat everything you do and say. Let your son watch Dad tie his tie, while your daughter sticks with Mom while she does her hair and puts on jewelry. Show them your outfit and accessories, and explain how excited you are to put on each part of your outfit. It’s only a matter of time before your children start asking: “Hey! When do I get to dress up?”