Does your little one absolutely refuse to get dressed for the day? It might be frustrating, but resistance to getting ready for the day is a common behavior for many small children. Here are a few things parents can try in order to avoid a constant battle of wills over daily tasks.
1. Empathize. Because no one want to get out of pajamas, do they?
Transitions from one activity to another are tough for kids. Honestly, they’re tough for a lot of adults as well! How many times have you complained your way through a morning as you get out of your cozy bed and dress for the day? Try to keep in mind that for your child, getting dressed often means transitioning out of an activity or environment they are enjoying. They might also not be looking forward to whatever comes next, such as daycare or preschool. Knowing this can help you keep your empathy intact as you guide your child from one task to the next.
2. TDB. Take Deep Breaths!
Once you are able to empathize with your child’s feelings, you can take steps to model the kind of emotional regulation you’d like them to be learning. Plan to take your time and take a deep breath when the resistance starts to build. That might mean getting things prepped the night before, or getting started a half hour earlier in the morning in order to avoid feeling rushed. Next you can invite your child into the task of getting ready for the day with an empathetic and calm voice. This shows them that transitions don’t always have to be upsetting, and reassures them that they can take their time.
3. Choose your battles. It’s just clothes after all.
Power struggles with your little one are inevitable. There will always be moments when they don’t have a choice and must do something they don’t want to do, such as getting buckled in the car or taking important medicine. Giving your tiny dictator lots of safe opportunities to make their own choices can help limit the frustration you both feel when they don’t have a choice. Will it really hurt anything if they wear their pajamas to preschool sometimes? Is it the end of the world if they decide they only want to wear their favorite pair of socks every day? (Grab some duplicates of extra-favorite clothing items to avoid the laundry day meltdowns.)
4. This we know: Seasons will change and feet will grow.
When it comes to toddler tantrums, one thing is true. Toddlers grow up. Before you know it, they won’t be screaming at you for throwing their favorite socks in the wash (honestly, how dare you want them to have clean feet?) The daily struggles with getting dressed will eventually end. Little feet will grow. Cute squishy legs will become tall and strong and you won’t have to chase them around the house begging them to please just put on the pants.