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Helping your child develop appropriate school style

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Start the year looking great

Your child’s sense of style starts to develop pretty early and it stays with her for a lifetime! Help her get on the right track with these tips from SheKnows!

Helping your child develop her sense of style is a lot of fun and a great bonding experience. Use these tips to have a good time with it while being the role model she needs.

Start early

It’s never too early to help your child develop good taste! As soon as your little one has mastered her colors, help her learn what colors go great together and which color combos should be avoided. When she’s a little bigger and starts understanding size and proportion, teach her about pairing skinny pants with full shirts and flowing skirts with fitted tops. These little nuggets of info will go a long way toward stopping her from pairing tight with tighter in her teenage years (or looking frumpy in an outfit that’s nothing but baggy).

Be supportive

Your child’s tastes may not be like yours. It may hurt a little, but it’s not the end of the world, so don’t act like it is. Your kid wants your approval, and if you start turning up your nose, he’ll start putting up a wall. As long as he’s school-appropriate, try to be as supportive as you can and save the cringes for after he walks out the door.

Make them feel like it’s their idea

If you send your tween daughter or son into a closet to come up with their own outfit, you may not see them again until they're 18 (and they may come out wearing something completely unacceptable). To put an end to fights and speed things along, pick out three outfits and have her choose one from those. She’s still making the final decision, but you know what she picks is mom-approved.

Study before you shop

Before you hit the stores, spend some time looking in magazines, catalogues and online at the current trends. Talk about what styles he likes and what ones he doesn’t, as well as why. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions here either, Mom!

Give alternatives

No matter how supportive you try to be, they're going to pick something that’s just more than you can deal with. Maybe it’s too revealing, maybe it’s too expensive, maybe it’s just plain horrible. Instead of giving them a flat-out no, try to give them a few alternative choices. If she chooses a hot pink T-shirt with a plunging neckline, pick one out in the same color but with a crew neck, and hand her a camie she can wear under her first choice. If he picks out a graphic tee with a logo likely to get him sent home, try and hunt one down that's still funny, but school appropriate. The key here is to let them know they're still setting their own style, but you’re giving them a few helpful guidelines.

Keep it age-appropriate

They all want to grow up so fast. We’ve been there; we know. Don’t deny her the fun of going after the latest styles – instead, try to bring them to a level that’s completely appropriate for her age. If she’s dying for a heeled shoe, don’t steer her toward the flats; show her a kitten heel. Does she want to rock a mini skirt? No problem! Just make sure she’s rockin’ a matching pair of leggings, as well. There are ways to make grown-up fashions work for younger girls without looking like she’s just raided your closet, so show her how to do it.

Check out Teaching kids to dress their age >>

Be careful of body image

Teach your kids how to dress in a way that flatters their body style, but do it in a way that makes them confident, not self-conscious. Point out their best features, and show them how to dress to accentuate those parts. Teach him what colors make his eyes pop and her what cuts of dresses make her look taller.

Quick Tip: Make sure she knows you have the final word. Do what you can to compromise, but put your foot down if she won't budge.

More back to school fashion from SheKnows

Back to school styles for kids
What do your kids' clothes say about them?
Mom vs. Child: Wardrobe wars

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