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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

My 3-year-old wants to wear the same clothes everyday.

Q: I give my almost 3-year-old a choice of what to wear and sometimes even let him pick out his own clothes when we shop. Yet he still wants to wear the same thing (sweatpants and a short-sleeve shirt) every day. How can I coax him into wearing other outfits?

A: While you might not love his "uniform," wearing favorites over and over is a stage most children go through. Preschoolers have very little control over most things in their lives. Letting your child choose what to wear gives him some "say" over something that matters to him, while making an issue out of it can create a more fierce attachment to this outfit. And if the day comes where all three of his favorite sweatpants are in the wash, don’t panic. Use this as an opportunity to help your child learn to cope with disappointment—an important life skill. You can explain: Your favorite outfit needs to be washed today. I know you are disappointed, but it will be clean for you to wear tomorrow. For today, you can choose your red sweats or your blue overalls. Which would you like? He may protest in the beginning but if you're clear and consistent, he'll adapt over time.


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