Standing Up For Standing Out

While you're sitting quietly at home stressing over the big issues like drugs, sex and alcohol, your anxious teen may be more concerned with fitting in fashionably. From TV to magazines and the Internet, today's generation of teenagers is under high pressure to purchase the latest designer gear. So how can you help your child navigate this difficult time as she develops her own special style?

Teen Girl with MomWith a good mix of common-sense advice, you can help your child navigate the peer pressure minefield of personal style by following the tips below:

1) Talk to your teenager.
Keep the channels of communication as open as possible. Encourage your child to chat with you regularly in an informal, non-confrontational way. When your daughter wants to bleach her hair at the age of 12, don't just say "no" -- explain the dangers of using such harsh chemicals at a young age and the resulting damage that may occur to hair and scalp.  If your child knows she can come to you with questions and that you will respond without the threat of punishment or judgment, your relationship will grow in mutual respect.

2) Respect for your teenager's choices. His fashion taste may not be to your liking, but think back to when you were of the same age. What response did you get from your parents? Chances are you wore it anyway!

3) Find ways to increase your child's self-esteem. Encourage her to be a leader and not a follower. She may find this increasingly difficult to achieve due to peer pressure, but with your guidance and experience, she may become open to trying new styles. Experts tell us that children who possess high self esteem are much less likely to fall victim to bullies.

4) Understand the pressures your child is under. Just as you read all the books on babyhood, do some research on adolescence so you can better understand where your child is coming from.

5) Don't be afraid to say no.  Let your child know where you stand when it comes to wearing revealing clothes. She may be secretly pleased and relieved that you set some boundaries. Go one step further and let her blame you to her friends for not allowing her to purchase unsuitable clothing.

6) Teach your teenager to budget his allowance or earnings. By doing so, you allow him to build his own collection of fashionable gear in his own style. When you encourage him to save up and buy his own clothes, he will learn the value of a dollar and better appreciate the effort involved in dressing fashionably.

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