Hang entire outfits on one hanger.
Most children will reach a day when they really want to pick out their own clothes. And my observation of our life tells me that they often want to pick them out before they are capable of matching them together. In our family, E. was about three, and A. was only twelve months. Perhaps this is because E. is a boy and A. a girl! With E., choosing his clothes was a power issue, but A. simply liked the pretty dresses and cared about which color to wear.
Now, some parents don’t care if the children are matchy-matchy all the time. I admit it. I am not one of those parents. I do care if my children match. I just do. But I don’t want this to get in the way of allowing them a bit of choice in this area.
So our hanger system is the compromise. I keep all the hangers we receive when friends and family purchase clothes for the children, so we have a very complete collection of hangers that will hold bottoms and tops together. When the children are too little to choose from all of their clothes, I simply grab a hanger in each hand and ask them to choose between two outfits.
For E., I have begun to teach him about matching by pointing out what colors the bottom and top share, and then having him pick socks to match when necessary. Also, he has two baskets on a shelf in his room. One has a collection of shorts that will match almost any T-shirt, the other is full of said T-shirts. If we are headed to play outside, I let him grab what he wants from each basket, knowing that everything goes together fine.
A. is still little, but we can use looking at her clothes as an opportunity to talk about fabric textures or colors. She oohs and aahs over her dresses every single day, which is fun because it continually strikes me how different girls are from boys.
But the commonality is that they both want to choose, and hanging outfits together has made it possible for me to make room for those choices rather than being tempted to squash the desire.
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