Children want the ability to express themselves, and at some point, that expression will come through in their clothing choices. Most of them even decide they don’t want Mom’s help with their wardrobe at a very young age. And self-expression is great! The problem is knowing how to set limitations and when it’s okay to let them just be them. Here are a few of the best tips for allowing your child to find his or her own style while still setting some limits.
Section off the closet
One of the best ways to allow your child to dress him or herself is by creating sections in the closet. For example, everything on the right might be suitable for school, while everything on the left can only be worn when playing at home or outside. You might even have certain bins or drawers that are labeled with terms such as “play”, “church”, “school”, etc. This allows them to mix and match whatever choices they want within your limits.
Make clear rules
While fashion selections can be made largely by the child, psychologists agree that some issues are still best covered by the parent. Prudential issues, for instance, concern safety with clothing and need to be governed when children are young. And moral issues are something to be discussed between the child and parent. In order to make sure your child is sticking to these rules, they need to be clearly laid out ahead of time. Some examples of specific standards might be dress length, types of sleeves, or that tights or undershirts must be worn with certain types of garments. These guidelines will help both when shopping for new clothing and when getting dressed.
No matter what your child’s age, it’s a good idea to take him or her shopping often. Every shopping trip doesn’t have to result in purchases, but it’s a good opportunity to check out new styles and have discussions about appropriate attire. These trips don’t have to be to brick-and-mortar stores only. Simply whip up a snack for your child and chill on the couch for a bit of online window shopping. Browsing online for teen clothing will be a fun bonding experience as well as a way to set healthy boundaries in their fashion choices.
Lead by example
One of the best ways to form healthy style guidelines is to model it in what you and your spouse wear. You’re not trying to create a clone, but rather someone who sees what it is like to take care of him or herself and dress appropriately. Sometimes, swaying them toward a certain idea is better done subtly by example than just telling them what they have to do. You’ll never be able to convince your child that fishnet stockings are inappropriate if it’s a part of your everyday attire, so always be conscientious that someone else is watching.
Clothing can be a fun and healthy way for children to express themselves, but there’s more psychology involved in wardrobe choices than you might think. Studies show that some psychological changes actually occur depending on what someone wears. For example, wearing a power suit can help you feel more confident when conducting business, but wearing that same suit to a party can make you feel more closed off and less likely to enjoy yourself. There’s a reason they say “dress for the job you want; not the one you have.” So, make sure you give your child a little leeway to express himself, but help them set healthy boundaries when they’re young. You can give them a little more control each year until they’re free to make their own choices, but giving them rules early on will help them set their own limits.