According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at ages 4 to 5, children should be able to choose their own clothes. According to my personal experience, they are capable of it at a much younger age – as long as we don't mind what they choose!

This issue frequently turns into a serious battle between parent (at the risk of sounding sexist, I have to say it's usually the mother) and child. And it seems so foolish.

There are so many areas of life where our children truly have no choice. Why also rob them of the ones that don't matter?

What's our fear? They'll look silly. They'll look strange. They'll look nerdy. Our parenting skills will be called into question.

Seriously?

These are all variations on a theme: what will other people think?

I have a two-word answer: Who cares?

They aren't raising this child. They aren't invested in this child's future. This child's character is irrelevant to them.

We all want our children to look cute. The truth is that in some of the outfits they pull together on their own they really do! But even if they don't, cute is not a character trait. It is not a moral virtue.

Dressing our children in adorable outfits has nothing to do with whether they're kind, thoughtful, considerate or loyal.

And it also doesn't equip them to have confidence in their choices, to be independent, creative and spontaneous, to think broadly.

You may believe I exaggerate but I don't think so. Clothes are a mode of self-expression. We don't want to overly indulge it or thwart it. So let's not make a big deal.

Let them choose. Let them enjoy the outfit they picked out. Let them feel the pleasure and the sense of accomplishment available through making your own choice. Let it be the first of many.

And who knows? We may think that nothing they wear goes together; they may actually be starting a new trend!