Clothing Clash: 3 Ways To Help Kids Find Their Personal Style

Take Charge on 02.16.12
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Photo: Martinak15/Creative Commons

"Choose your battles." I'm convinced whoever uttered it first was a parent who'd just been bloodied in the battle with a child over clothing. Why don't we just let kids pick what they want to wear? Don't we have enough on our plates without having to take that on too?

Since we are dealing with a lot, wouldn't it be nice to be able to surrender this one before it starts? It can be done, if you trust your child to make appropriate clothing decisions. That starts with them knowing their personal style. How do you help them get there? Start with these three ideas.

1. Check out magazines. What's hot? What's cool? What's in fashion? Start by doing your research. Next time you're at the kid's school, take a peek at what other kids are wearing. What has your daughter been talking about? My daughter is almost 16, which means she's turned into a regular clotheshorse. We check out websites, magazines and sales circulars, sometimes with pen in hand so we can mark what she likes. It's a great way for us to bond and I save money too since I'm not buying cute, frilly skirts that my "jeans and t-shirt" girl will never wear.

2. Guide, don't pick. Helping kids find their own style doesn't mean abdicating all parental responsibility. There can be peace on the homefront if you gently guide but stop short of picking  pieces for them. Whether toddler or teen, it seems some of the biggest battles center on kids trying to exercise their autonomy. So let them have some freedom, within the parameters you set. Explain what those are and why you chose them, even the little guys will understand. It can be done with teens too; just make sure not to buy things that fall outside of your comfort zone and keep an eye on how they spend their own money, too.

3. Remember their style is not a reflection of your parenting. In elementary school, my son was into camouflage. Camo pants, camo sheets, camo coat. If it wasn't camo, it had to be Army green and if not Army green then black. They were not the things I would have chosen but I wasn't wearing them. It didn't matter that there were some who wondered what kind of mother would let her kid wear that everyday and I didn't care that they thought I should expand Cole's sartorial horizons with a smattering of color. Cole's love of all things camo meant that he loved camo, not that I was a bad mom.

The fight over fashion can be a big one, but it doesn't have to be. You can skip the morning migraine by giving kids a chance to choose and feel good knowing this will help their decision-making when there's more than just clothing on the line.

How are you with letting your kids choose their wardrobe? How do you guide them without pushing too hard?

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