Temper Tantrums When Dressing Children: What to Do

Tantrums when dressing children are normal from the age of 3. Being patient, involving the child, and negotiating with them are essential.
Temper Tantrums When Dressing Children: What to Do
Mara Amor López

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Written by Mara Amor López

Last update: 27 December, 2022

What parent hasn’t had to deal with tantrums when dressing their child? Without a doubt, many of you can relate to this. Many children resist getting dressed and end up angry. This attitude is totally normal, as they’re in the midst of a struggle to gain their independence. For this reason, they don’t want to wear the clothes we choose for them and prefer to be the ones who decide what, how, and when.

Little ones, in addition to having a routine, also need to have discipline and receive clear and consistent limits from their caregivers. Otherwise, they feel lost and behave like spoiled brats. Clothes can be a time of conflict between adults and children, but what can we do about it? In this article, we’ll tell you about it.

Why do tantrums appear when dressing children?

Tantrums when dressing children, even if they get on our nerves, are normal and to be expected during childhood. From about 3 years of age, the stage of self-assertion arrives and children begin to oppose their parents in multiple opportunities to reaffirm their identity. The personality is in the process of development and therefore, tantrums when dressing are very common.

Another thing that happens in the mornings is that parents are in a hurry, so the time to dress the little ones becomes a stress factor. The issue is that children don’t understand this concept and also, they need more time to complete their tasks. Therefore, we must try to be patient with them and accompany them to develop autonomy in an adequate way.

What can we do to avoid tantrums when dressing children?

Although we can’t avoid their refusal to get dressed, what we can change is the context so that this moment doesn’t become the first conflict of the day. For this, here are some useful guidelines. Take note!

A little boy putting on a shirt with the help of his mother.
You should explain to children which clothes they should wear at all times, for example, the school uniform. You can also tell them that for other situations, they can choose whatever they like the most.

Explain to them which clothes are the right ones for each moment

We must tell them that in order to go to school or to work, we have to wear specific clothes, even if they’re not to our liking. However, on those days that they don’t have to go to school, they can wear whatever they want. They may not understand it at first and may remain angry, but little by little, they’ll understand.

Negotiate with them

It’s not a good idea to let them have their way all the time. However, although children need limits, it’s valid to negotiate with them. How? We can give them other alternatives so that they feel they have more autonomy, even if we’re the ones who set the conditions. For example, we can make the following proposals:

  • Do you want to get dressed in your bedroom or in mom’s?
  • Choose which of these two t-shirts you prefer, red or blue?

This will make them feel that they’re taken into account when making decisions and, above all, that they’re treated with respect and affection.

Also, we can explain to them that if they refuse to wear the clothes, then we’ll be the ones who select their attire and that they won’t have the opportunity to choose that day, but surely another day they will. This way, we show them that we trust that they can do it well and without tantrums.

Be patient and understanding

It’s important to talk to the children and explain to them that in the mornings, we can’t go as slowly as on the weekend or at the end of the school day. Otherwise, we could be late for school.

We must talk to them calmly and patiently so that, little by little, they can understand the situation. It’s important to be aware that children need us to reason with them. We must try to avoid impositions because little ones are in a learning stage and they have to know that everything has a cause and a consequence.

Don’t lose your temper

It’s important not to lose your temper and avoid shouting, which instead of helping us to resolve the conflict, makes the situation worse. If we see that we’re about to lose patience, we must take a breath and think that this won’t help the children to end their tantrums. It’s a stage in which communication and reinforcement of good behaviors are key.

If the tantrums extend to other areas and we don’t know how to deal with them, what we should do is seek the help of a parenting specialist. This way, we’ll be able to get the necessary tools to deal with these types of situations that arise in everyday life.

A baby boy putting on pants by himself.
It’s normal for little ones to try to dress themselves, even if they still can’t do it in the right way. Adults should try to remain calm at all times and avoid shouting.

Choose clothes the night before

Another thing we can do to avoid tantrums when dressing children is to choose the clothes the night before. This way, we won’t have to rush so early in the morning to select clothes and we can involve them in choosing their outfits. Also, we’ll avoid the usual morning conflict.

Shift the focus of their attention

Not everything works the same for all children, as there’s no magic recipe for parenting, but shifting the focus of attention when a meltdown breaks out sometimes works. For example, we can make up a story, talk to them about something we did the day before, or ask them about what they did at school. This will distract them with other things that are interesting to them, while we take the opportunity to dress them.

About tantrums when dressing children we can say

Tantrums when dressing children are totally normal from the age of 3 years old. These appear when the children notice that what they want or wish isn’t fulfilled. This issue shouldn’t worry you if they’re not extensible to other areas of their life or if they don’t generate a significant problem in the family dynamics. Otherwise, it’s best to seek professional help.

Surely, the advice we’ve given you in this article will help you handle the situation in a better way and without forgetting that the fundamental bases will always be patience and love.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.