This post is part of a series of excerpts from Dr. G's new book on parenting: Get the Behavior You Want... Without Being the Parent You Hate!, which is available for pre-order now.

Everybody wears clothes, so use this daily fact of life to teach your child to take great care of him- or herself. Another huge perk of teaching these tasks is that you can delegate some of the daily work with clothing to your kids. You’ll teach them necessary life skills and free yourself up for more urgent issues.


  • Two- and three-year-olds are all about the choices, right? So make sure they can only choose between items that are acceptable to you. “Do you want the blue long-sleeved shirt or the red long-sleeved shirt?” Not “What do you want to wear today?” If you go that route you’ll have that kid in a bathing suit and rainboots trudging through the snow. And you’ll definitely get those looks from the grandparents.


  • Use your child’s love for technology by checking The Weather Channel app together each morning. Use that information to encourage your child to make smart choices about clothes and outerwear for the day.
  • Sort socks. That really annoying chore for grown-ups is just a matching game for kids. Put them to work next to you making pairs for everyone in the house.

Ages 5–7.

  • Label that stuff. Kids lose all manner of things. I was a real “If your head wasn’t attached you’d lose it” kind of elementary schooler myself. Teach kids an important step in finding lost things— practice that new name-writing skill (or sticker-peeling skill) by having them label anything they wear or take out of the house.

Ages 8–10.

  • Time to do the laundry. Yes! Have them sort, wash, dry, and fold; all of these are within the cognitive and motor skill abilities of most kids this age. They need to learn to do it, and you don’t love it so much you can’t give it up, right? Keep your delicates back, though.

Ages 11–12.

  • Do you argue about what “fashion” is acceptable? Draw boundaries, and be willing to explain them. If your child wants you to move one of those boundaries, ask for a compelling reason why. You may not agree, but the conversation is important and will teach her valuable skills.
  • Have a difference of opinion about hair? Tweens often want to experiment with cut and even color. Give in here if you can; it’s just hair, and it grows back. Self-expression is important.

Deborah Gilboa, MD, aka “Doctor G” is an industry leading parenting expert, Family Physician, international speaker, author, and media expert. She developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids.
Doctor G is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a frequent guest expert on CBS, ABC, and WQED. She contributes to Huffington Post Parents, Your Teen magazine, Parents magazine and Recognitions include Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 Under 40”, the Bristol Meyers Squibb Award for Clinical Excellence, and The Excellence in Teaching Award.
Beyond these honors, she’s most proud of her family. She and her husband are raising four boys who are growing into respectful, responsible and resilient young men.
For more info, go to Ask Doctor G.