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What rules do you set for your child’s clothing?

Back-to-school means the start of homework, schedules and, if you are like most moms, the inevitable discussions with your kids over what they can — and can’t — wear to school. Your daughter rolls her eyes when you say her skirt is too short, while your son insists on wearing his jeans so baggy that his underwear shows. What do you do?

We spoke with moms about how they find a compromise between what they want their kids to wear — and what their kids actually want to wear.

Set clear boundaries

“My children are not allowed to wear shirts that show their midriff, torn jeans, shirts that have bad words on them, shirts that promote drugs or alcohol or tank tops with skinny straps,” says mom of two and author Chelly Wood.

Use the school dress code

Blogger and mom of six Sharon Rowley says her school’s dress code helps to enforce her own fashion rules.

“My middle-school sons have told many stories over the past few years of kids getting ‘dress-coded’ at school… specifically young ladies who wore too-short skirts/shorts to school,” says Rowley, who says that the district makes dress code violators change into their gym clothing or wear one of the men’s XXL shirts that they have on hand for this exact purpose. “No one wants to have to wear one of these non-stylish oversized shirts, so it keeps the girls motivated to stay on track!”

Rowley admits that after a more relaxed summer, it can be difficult to adjust to the fashion rules of school. “Do my girls own ‘shorty-shorts?’ Sure they do — and they’ve worn them all summer long. But once school starts, those will move to the back of the closet and won’t be worn to school,” she says.

Wood agrees, saying she has no problem making her kids change if she feels like their clothing is inappropriate for school. “If the clothing doesn’t fit, I make my children go back and change. If pants look too tight, I’ll say, ‘It’s not fair to the boys to have to look at that when they’re supposed to be concentrating on their school work.'”

Brassy Apple‘s Megan Pyrah, say that school uniforms are great and help alleviate a lot of headaches with back-to-school clothes.

“We wear uniforms — and at first I thought it was too restrictive, but it really helps eliminate the ‘I don’t have anything to wear’ battle in the morning and puts the kids in more of an even playing field,” she says. That being said, she still allows her kids to put their own style into their uniforms with jewelry, textured vests, colored laces or fun socks.

Lead by example

Most parents struggle with how to talk to their kids about dressing appropriately, however Stephanie Rach, who has two daughters aged 10 and 15, says she and her husband lead by example. “My husband and I dress appropriately so the girls have a reference point as well. There is nothing worse though than seeing another mother dressing like a teenager!” she says.

To help her daughter dress appropriately, Rach uses a practical approach. “Simple questions like: ‘How are you going to function in that today without someone seeing your breasts?’ puts the thought process back on my teenager. She may be mad at me for bringing it to her attention but she makes a good decision.”

Talk it out

Tasha Kornegay says she and her son have open conversations on clothes, where they listen to each other’s point of view and they come to a middle ground. This was especially helpful when her son wanted to pierce his ear.

“After hours of discussions, he and I finally came to common ground. I asked Kyree to do a pros and cons list of wearing an earring, I repeated the same exercise from a parent’s perspective. After processing the list, Kyree was able to understand my viewpoint and I was enlightened on his. He decided to forgo the idea of wanting to wear an earring. It was a lengthy process; but the fashion trend was buried,” she said.

Let them have personal style

Many moms agree that they set limits on what is appropriate for their kids to wear to school, but when it comes to personal style, sometimes they have to let their kids experiment a little — even when it’s not their own personal taste. After all, I’m sure our parents rolled their eyes as we left the house in clunky Doc Martens (which, weirdly enough, are now back in style).

“If an outfit is school-appropriate, but perhaps just doesn’t meet my personal taste-level, then that’s when I need to take a deep breath and ‘let it go.’ I want my kids to develop their own personal style and I accept that we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. Do I share with them that it might not be my thing? Yes, but do I make him change clothes? No,” says Rowley.

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