Before heading to the store for back-to-school shopping, read over the school dress code. Some of the restrictions may be obvious (such as no short shorts) but you might not be aware of others (such as no tees or tank tops). Talk to your daughter about her school dress code, as well as your work dress code, explaining that school is her "job" until she graduates. And like you can't wear miniskirts to the office, neither can she to school.
Beyond the dress code, you may have some additional family clothing rules as well. Be very specific about what is okay and what is not. For example, you may not want your daughter wearing spaghetti straps without a cardigan or jacket on top. Make sure your daughter understands exactly what is appropriate to ensure your standards are met. Write down a list of ground rules and give her a copy.
Many times, girls dress immodestly because they are mimicking their peers, fashion models or pop icons. Other times, they may dress inappropriately to get attention -- any kind of attention. Dressing in clothing that is too revealing can give the wrong impression to teachers, classmates and everyone else. Talk to your daughter about the importance of self-respect, body image and modesty. Teach her about getting positive attention through healthier means -- scholastic achievement, performing arts, sports and other areas.
Children and teens often express themselves through what they wear. Encourage your daughter's self-expression through colors and fabrics, rather than specific (inappropriate) styles. Allow her to choose fun prints and bold colors in tops, skirts, dresses, shoes and other school clothes. Your daughter might complain that "everybody's wearing it," but explain that dressing modestly can make her stand out from the crowd in a positive way. She'll gain respect from her classmates and people will take notice that she's strong enough to stick to her values.
Though it's important to tell your daughter that she is pretty or attractive, you shouldn't only praise the superficial. On a regular basis, you should praise her character and her accomplishments, too. This will help your daughter improve her self-esteem and confidence. She will learn to value herself and you might not even have to tell her what is appropriate to wear anymore.
To make back-to-school shopping stress-free, continue to praise your daughter, reaffirm the importance of self respect and allow her to pick out her own clothes to nurture her self-expression.
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