If you have kids you know getting them dressed is a royal pain in the bum. If they are very small you have to thread their fragile bones through the straight jackets Carters tries to pass off as onesies. If they are toddlers you have to clothe a beast more slippery than a eel and more flexible than an Olympic gymnast. Once they hit the "young kid" stage you have to beg and plead for hours to get them to even put socks on and when they do, they'll complain about them. What's the deal?! Get dressed already and move on with your day! But alas, they do not.
After going insane trying to get my 2 and 4 year old dressed every morning I realized I needed a new strategy. They both are wildly independent (which is how we train them 'round here) and have opinions they don't mind voicing. However, they are still kids and don't actually want to accomplish anything requested of them. Dressing in the mornings used to be a battle where I would choose clothes and the girls would vehemently reject them. They would shout and cry and the sight of outfits I chose, refusing to put them on. Or they would emerge wearing bathing suits in November and I would be forced to go in and dress them myself in the 11th hour anyway. GAH!
Finally I figured it out. I sat them down and talked it out with them. I explained that taking 20-30 minutes in the morning to dress was unrealistic and wasting valuable time. Time when they could be playing or doing other activities they like before dropping my oldest at school. I'm not sure that resonated though. I also explained that I did not particularly want to spend my time choosing clothes that weren't going to be worn. Still, they didn't seem to really mind. I even pointed out that it made them unhappy to wear clothes I chose for them. That they agreed to whole heartedly. My proposition was this: dress yourself.
That's it. Dress yourself. There was no catch. If they got up, picked out their clothes and put them on- to the absolute best of their abilities-then they could wear whatever they chose (seasonally appropriate). If they didn't, I would choose their clothes and dressed them myself, like babies...dun, dun, duuuun! The first few days it didn't quite click. My oldest still protested getting dressed so I went in, chose an outfit and dressed her. My youngest still went straight for the bathing suits and dance costumes with no under garments, so again, I took over.
On the 3rd day my oldest came from her room wearing peace sign multi colored leggings, a brown polka dot long sleeve, green Tinkerbell socks, and her fanciest purple sequins dress. She was upset because she couldn't zip the back and thought I'd make her take it off. Instead I zipped her up, told her I thought she did a great job, and that I am always there to help as long as she tried her hardest first. In that instant she got it. The look of understanding was profound and plastered all over her face.
From that day forward I have had to lend minimal assistance to either of my girls when dressing. I help with zippers, shoe tying and dress reaching (if they ask with manners and have all other components on already). They have been able to express themselves through their clothes and are even helping each other out in the morning now.