Why you should not insist on dressing your kids alike

Dressing two children the same way is always delightful.

One of our favourite family photos shows our six-year-old daughter wearing a T-shirt that reads: “I’m the big sister”, and our four-year-old daughter wearing a similar T-shirt that says: “I’m the little sister”, shares child psychologist Dr Richard Woolfson. 

Another wonderful holiday snap shows them at ages eight and six years wearing similar dresses. They look so cute in the photos.

But, by that age, we already felt they wore those dresses mainly to please us, and that they were well on the way to developing their own sense of style.

The “I want to dress differently from him” cry is a sign of your child’s growing independence and of his steadily increasing sense of self.

It’s not that he doesn’t love his sibling, and it’s probably not that he dislikes the clothes you have chosen. 

It’s that he is aware of his own individuality, that he has different skills, talents and abilities from his brother, and that he also has his own distinctive dress sense.

Related: 6 reasons for sibling rivalry

This is a perfectly healthy sign of psychological maturity, and is nothing for you to fear (although it does mark the end of an era, and you won’t see such photos anymore until probably another 20 years or so, when they might occasionally wear the same outfit!).

Your challenge is to allow your child’s independence to develop and grow, while still offering him guidance and support.

The problem is that if you are too prescriptive and controlling about what he has to wear, you’ll undermine his self-confidence and reduce his willingness to cooperate with you. 

And he’ll certainly be in a foul mood if he has to wear something he rejects.

Related: 4 ways to boost your child’s confidence

Next page: Why you should not fight it

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