Independence and the Preschooler

“Hey, Bean,” I said, as I got ready for work this morning.  “You about ready to go get dressed?”

“Okay,” said Bean.

“I laid your clothes out for you on your table.”

“Oh, I don’t need those,” said Bean.

“Uh huh…” I said, too distracted as I tried to wipe mascara off my eyelid to pay attention to what he’d said.

So, Bean disappears down the hall, returning about 15 minutes later.  Wearing this:


“Whoa, Bean Man,” I said, grabbing his arm as he casually strolled by me.  “Whatcha wearing, Buddy?”

“I picked it out myself!”

“You did?  Uh… Well…  that shirt doesn’t really match those shorts, big guy.”

“Yes, it does!” Chris called from across the room.  “I think it looks great!”

“Yeah!” said Bean.

“Well… um…. It doesn’t really… go together…” I stammered, not wanting to crush little Bean’s spirit, but also keenly aware that I was about to go out in public with him.

“Yeah, it does!” Chris insisted, ignoring my silent pleas with bug eyes for him to stop encouraging this. “There’s blue in the shorts and blue in the shirt!”

“And there’s white in the shorts and white in the shirt, too!” said Bean.

I checked my watch.  7:05am.  Too early for any kind of argument.  Especially insignificant ones.

“You’re right!” I said.  “You look great!  I’m so proud of you, Bean Bean!  Way to go, man!”

(high fives all around)

Bean left the room, and Chris whispered to me, “You know, there should be a button or something you can put on your kid that says, ‘I dressed myself’ so that we don’t have to walk next to him in shame.”

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43 Thoughts to “Independence and the Preschooler”

  1. Erin

    That is too funny, Katie…my mom actually DID give me a button to wear that said ‘I dressed myself today!’ I was proud to wear it and she was glad no one thought she was the brains behind the outfit. Win-win! …and we still have the button in my scrapbook 🙂

  2. Liz Moss

    Dressing themselves is one of the first things of independence for my girls. I know that they often don’t match and my youngest is obsessed with wearing skirts over everything. But it makes them so happy! I only step in if the clothes are inappropriate for the weather.

    I guarantee no one will judge on the outfit.

  3. brooke

    Now I’m waiting for the day that Gracie wants to wear a princess dress to school.

  4. Whenever I see a kid dressed like that, I just assume they dressed themselves and applaud the parents (in my mind) for letting them do so. I think most people will assume it. 🙂 This made me laugh out loud anyway, though.

  5. SusSam

    I think he looks great! As long as my son is dressed for the weather, he can wear pretty much whatever he wants. Just don’t let him be the kindergartner in my son’s class who wears different shoes to school and birthday parties because he mother wants him to express himself! Besides, my son once matched green camo pants with a plaid green shirt because they had the same colors in them. He was so proud of his look that day. My husband was embarrassed and apologized to everyone that looked crooked at us that day.

  6. Jessica

    You could always let him pick the top or bottom. That way he gets the independence but you get to make sure he matches by picking the other.

  7. sarah p

    ummm, I think that matches just fine. Maybe I shouldn’t dress myself on a daily basis.

  8. jenny-bird

    Haha! I think you did the right thing by letting him stay in his outfit. My mom dressed my every day through the third grade because I thought her style was great. I think she still misses those days…

  9. Kimmiejo

    @sarah p – Me too! Here in California they sell boys sets with plaid shorts and a shirt with a character on it.

  10. … that does go together …

  11. Jenna

    Way to pick your battles! 🙂

  12. Becca

    I wouldn’t think anything of it if I saw a kid dressed in that outfit. I think it looks good ?? I say let him dress himself everyday!

  13. Kimberly M.

    Is it terrible that I think his outfit matches great? He did a fantastic job! I’m all for letting them dress themselves.

  14. Kristin

    My mom actually did make me a button that said exactly that! I was very proud to wear it, and she avoided the “you dressed your child in THAT??” response. Of course, my creations usually involved a tutu or dress over pants, maybe with a sash. Bean’s looks pretty tame!

  15. Jess

    My son is 4 and is into dressing himself. He *usually* picks something out that matches, but not all the time. And if I try to change the outfit he picked out, like this morning, it ends up in a fight. So I’ve learned to lay off and let him decide. Plus, I figure that people will know that he dressed himself if it’s a pretty hideous combination. He’s becoming very independent, and says each time, “See mom, only big boys get dwessed by demselves. Yeah, only big boys do.” So that makes me happy since he’s so cute 🙂

  16. Sarah H.

    LOVE the button idea!!! Awesome. You should make one.

  17. Kate

    I had a friend who organized her son’s clothes so the shirts and bottoms were separated as “fancy” (patterned) or “plain.” She then gave him a rule that he could pick three combos: fancy (top) and plain (bottom), plain and fancy, or plain and plain, but he couldn’t do fancy and fancy. Probably a good rule he can always use!

  18. kat

    I think you’re onto something….perhaps stickers that say I dressed myself this morning: a win-win. Encourage the kid to be dressed, confident, independent and reward them with a sticker while declaring to the world that this is NOT your fault and you are indeed actually being a very good, encouraging parent.

  19. I think his outfit looks great! Although Chris’s comment at the end is hilarious.

  20. Katie, he is too sweet!!! I’d love to pinch those little cheeks!

    A suggestion for him getting himself dressed: A friend of mine took a hanging shoe organizer and filled the pockets with outfits he could choose from.

    Also you could pick several pairs of pants and shirts that could all go together and he could pick from those!

  21. Mariya

    Aw, I think he matches. Maybe it’s the photo. So proud of your Bean for getting himself dressed.

  22. Chloe

    Lol I also don’t get it, looks like a kid outfit! Nothing wrong with that! If you’re particular separating the clothes like someone said sounds like a great idea! I am the daughter of a man who thinks nothing of matching plaid golf shorts with a hawaiian shirt though. You should meet my dad. 🙂

  23. Chris Jarrett

    looks fine to me. But I’m a guy, what do I know about getting dressed?!

  24. Sarah D

    Actually, as an interior designer with an eye for color and pattern mixing, I think Bean did a really good job! Maybe the tint in the picture is making it look better than it did in real life?

  25. You know, I don’t think it’s that bad – it certainly could be a whole lot worse. When my sister and I were his age, my mom used to put outfits together in our drawers (as opposed to shirts in one and pants in another). We got to pick what we wanted, but we still looked put together. It was a win-win (especially with me, her mix-and-matcher).

  26. I’ve picked up my son from school and found him wearing some of the strangest things (I leave really early so my husband has morning duty). The first few times I almost died, but his teachers just laughed. I realized it’s not a battle worth fighting. So yeah, plaid and stripes match now. And in kinder he’ll have to wear a uniform . . .

  27. That TOTALLY goes together! High five, Bean Man!

  28. colleen

    I always give parents the benefit of the doubt- ‘oh, that kid must have dressed himself today’ then I silently applaud the parents for letting the kid go out despite his/her outfit. Good for you, Katie and Chris. Life is too short for those kinds of arguments.

  29. I think he looks adorable! However, I am wondering if they make those buttons for husbands as well. I’ve tried over and over again to establish that plaid does not in fact go with ALL THE THINGS in the closet. I actually tried to convince him to not even buy the pants because I knew what was coming…

  30. Tracy B

    Love this little story. I’ve worked hard to teach my kids not to worry about that stuff – a least not too much – and it may have backfired. This morning, on our cold Oklahoma morning, my 12 yr old son had on a red sweatshirt, orange and black sweat pants, and his camo hunting boots. I really needed that button!

  31. I laughed out loud of this.. I agree that it matches!! Looks great, Bean! I love the idea of the button. So funny!

  32. Jessica W.

    Maybe it’s a California thing… Or maybe I shouldn’t be dressing myself either… but I’m kinda with Chris and Bean on this one. I think that is a great outfit for him!! Way to go Bean!!

  33. It totally matches!!!! I saw that and though, “Wow! He did REALLY good!” I love it when kids dress themselves and I always silently congratulate the parents in my head for fostering independence and a creative spirit. But, a button is a fantastic idea =)

  34. Melissa

    This is why my mother made sure every shirt I owned would match every pair of pants/skirt I owned from the time I was 3 – 8. That way, I could pick out my own clothes and as long as they were weather appropriate I was good to go. Of course, as you can imagine, there wasn’t a lot of variety or pattern in my clothes!

  35. Meghan

    The great thing about going out with your child in unmatching clothes is that most Moms have been in your shoes, and they will know that you didn’t pick out the pieces. But kids are so proud when they do things themselves, that I’ve never thought it was worth the battle or disappointment to try to get mine to change outfits. It is much more fun and happy to be excited for their moment and remember that it’s just clothes!

  36. alyssa

    …really? I don’t get it. The outfit totally matches.

  37. Can Bean have a man-to-man with Porter about dressing himself? Because Porter wants no part of it.

  38. What does it say about me that I think Bean’s outfit totally works? I used to put my daughter in madras shorts and whatever t-shirt she wanted…

  39. Rheannon Walls

    Oh I remember being a preschooler and insisting on picking out every article of clothing…
    I often went to school with polka dot pants, a striped shirt, and 2 left shoes from random pairs. The school called my mom to ask her about it. *sigh*. (What can I say? I was an artist.)

  40. Dessi

    I think he did pretty good! 🙂

  41. Julie B

    For the record I would dress my son that way. For real.

  42. Deepa

    It totally matches! (And we have that shirt too!) My preschooler has taken to picking out our 9 month old’s close as well. Some of the combos have been interesting to say the least….

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