kids

"I got my 3 kids to choose their own outfits for a week. Here's what I learned."

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Thanks to our brand partner, Next

When my mum received my first pre-school photos back when I was three years old, she said "JoJo, why are you wearing this outfit? I didn't dress you in this?"

A three-year-old me flicked my bob over my shoulder and smirked, saying something like, "I didn't want to fight with you, so I would just change into what I wanted to wear after you left for work. Pop didn't know what I was wearing when he dropped me off".

The sass. Mum was beaten by a three year old. (Something I think all mums can relate to).

From that day forward she let me explore and develop my own sense of style - I don't think she had much choice.

Now, with three kids of my own, I'm all about letting them explore their unique personalities through what they wear.

As an educator, former gifted and talented advisor and now author (My Happy Book is a book for parents and kids to help unleash their gifts and passions and provide coping strategies for life), I have done copious amounts of research in developing creativity, resilience, and encouraging autonomy in children.

But the biggest learning has been from the education my children have given me. When I let them explore, they teach me to just be.

Allowing your child to choose their outfits at times models to your child that you accept them for who they are; you celebrate their creativity; you value their opinion; and show them that they don't need to be 'perfect'. Experimenting means being OK to take risks and make mistakes, and solving problems along the way.

We all choose our own outfits each day, which allows us to model the above to our children, so why not extend that same empowerment to them?

That's the purpose of Next's #DressingTheNextGeneration campaign, which encourages kids to dress themselves. The Next children's range is made from quality pieces that are great for kids to explore, play at the park, jump in muddy puddles, paint, draw and ride bikes. The idea is to let kids be kids - their true selves.

Image: Supplied.

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The great outfit challenge.

They were so excited when I told them they could choose their outfits and every night before bed, Hunter asked if he could do it all again the next day. As always, I learn a lot about my children by observing their behaviour - and now they choose their outfits.  

Independence

I am that mum - the one that twin dresses her 18-month-apart boys. So I was really interested to see if they would choose the same clothes or different ones. Day 1, Archie jumped right in, not blinking an eye at what Hunter was choosing.

After a few days, Evie started to point to clothes she wanted to wear too. She was always drawn to the swan jumper and pom poms on the boots. Hunter played all day in his Next blazer without it being itchy or uncomfortable and it didn't even crease.

What they chose:

Image: Supplied.

 

Image: Supplied.

 

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Image: Supplied.

Creativity

The Next children's range really sparks creativity. With the dinosaur spiked boots and t-shirts, truck tees and fun dinosaur prints, the boys had fun and used their clothing as talking points (and making their characters come to life) throughout the day. Hunter loved mixing his dino t-shirts with his bow tie whilst Archie loved to wear his gumboots with his trackies and baker boy hat. They made fashion fun.

What they chose:

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Image: Supplied.

 

Image: Supplied.

Problem solving

The first day, they asked if they could choose five pairs of shoes. I asked, can we wear five pairs of shoes at once? 

Day 2, Hunter asked if he could lay out his clothes to see if his shoes would match with his outfit so he could see it better. He also did this when I asked him to choose his little sister's outfit for a day too. When I asked why he did this, he said he wanted to make sure she had warm legs and he didn't forget anything. 

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Next do great t-shirt and jogger packs which are good quality and come in a variety of tonal colours and different patterns. 

What they chose:

Image: Supplied.

Promote positive self-image 

I loved how this one came out the most, each day. The boys looked in the mirror, loving themselves and their outfits. They were proud of their outfits and how they looked, they asked to have their photo taken and asked to call their grandfather to show him. Also just allowing them to be and not get caught up on the little things. Archie loved that he could wear two different colour dino socks.

What they chose:

Image: Supplied.

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Autonomy

Next clothes are made for children to encourage them to dress themselves. Velcro shoes and handles to pull up their gumboots are great for encouraging autonomy.

The boys love the accessories and didn't take off their backpacks all day - they were their friends. The boys' individual talents came out - Hunter showed he is a visual learner by placing and arranging his clothes out, and Archie's tactile and spatial learning as he liked to try on until he was comfortable.

What they chose:

Image: Supplied.

Image: Supplied.

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Image: Supplied.

My top tips for supporting your child when choosing their own outfits:

  • Separate clothes into categories to make it easier for your child to choose an outfit so it doesn't become overwhelming for them.

  • Provide clothes that are weather appropriate.

  • If they are struggling with choosing an item, put a timer on and let them know they need to be dressed in a certain amount of time (make sure you give them enough time to explore and choose).

  • If they put too many clothes on and you are concerned that they might get hot, guide them with open-ended questions to help them determine why we can't wear too many layers and have to look at the weather outside to help us choose our clothes.

  • Look at the weather report the night before and use this a conversation starter to help them pick appropriate clothing the next day.

  • Praise their outfits with results (rather than generic praise like "great outfit!") make it relate to what they chose "I love how you have chosen those gum boots because it is raining outside".

  • Encourage them to tidy up them clothes and put away clothes that they haven't chosen which gives them responsibility.

  • Ask them to give a compliment to their sibling's outfit and what they like about it.

  • Provide accessories for your child to really have fun with this experience!

  • Use this opportunity to notice your child's strengths (what do they find easy, choosing weather appropriate clothes, or style or attention to detail).

I would love to encourage you to try this with your child and enter our $250 Next giveaway by sharing a photo of their outfit they chose and tagging #DressingTheNextGeneration and @nextofficial_au. For more, the competition Terms and Conditions can be found here.

All of the items featured are currently available via Next.com.au.

Jo Zammit (@storyandco) is an author, educator and business owner of online parenting empowerment hub www.storyandco.com.au.

Next
Next is the UK’s number one e-retailer and serves customers across over 70 countries. Launching its first retail store in 1982, Next now has over 500 stores across the UK & Ireland. Renowned for its on-trend styles and high wearability, Next has worked with the fashion industry’s most notable names including Imaan Hammam, Arizona Muse and Lineisy Montero.
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