Encourage your kids to express themselves through style with these tips

Jul 10, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Fashion is a tricky part of parenting.

On one hand, you don't want to teach your child that what she wears is more important than the quality of her character. But on the other hand, her style choices can be a great way to teach confidence and independence. Follow these tips to help your kid express herself through personal style in a way that's healthy for her self-esteem.

1. Create a magazine collage

Provide your child with magazine clippings of various types of fashion, and watch her go to town. She can create her own style board collage from the clippings, which will help her home in on her personal style even when she doesn't know the words "bohemian" or "punk" yet.

2. Dress up a doll

Encourage your child to dress up a doll that has many fashionable clothing options, like the Barbie Fashionistas doll, so she can experiment with different looks.

3. Work on a Pinterest board

If your child is over 13, she can make a fashion Pinterest board that allows her to pin her favorite styles. Pinning styles on a collage board — whether it's online or in her room — is a great way for her to curate her own style.

4. Start accessorizing

Hang accessories on the wall in your child's closet so she can play with the art of accessorizing. Hair clips, necklaces, purses and scarves don't cost very much, and they are a quick way for your child to observe how an accessory can change the look of an entire outfit.

5. Offer free rein, when appropriate

Allow your child to pick out her own clothing, and don't nitpick her choices. She'll have hits and misses. That's just part of the process.

6. Provide options

When free rein is not appropriate, place two or three clothing items on your child's bed so she can still choose the outfit she wants to wear (within reason).

7. Find a local design class

Many community rec centers host design classes on weekends or during the summer. These classes teach the art of design, as well as practical skills like sewing and construction. See if your neighborhood has a local and low-cost option for your kid to enjoy.

8. Give her time to dress herself

If you have a little kid, you know it can be hard to patiently watch her take eight minutes to put on a shoe. Just remember that it's good practice for her to dress herself, and gain confidence over her clothing choices.

9. Create a dress-up drawer

Dress up is one of the best ways to teach personal style. Stock a chest full of flouncy skirts, feather boas, wild west outfits and more, and watch your child try on different personas.

10. Teach the color wheel

Place a color wheel in your child's closet, and talk about how the interplay of complementary and corresponding colors is important when choosing an outfit for the day.

11. Have fun with DIY

Who says you have to purchase all of your child's fashion? Help her make a DIY craft that doubles as a clothing item or accessory — like a fringed T-shirt or a colorful bangle bracelet — and watch your kid's imagination come alive.

12. Check out a thrift store

A good thrift store will have both contemporary and vintage items for sale, so check it out. The lower costs of the items will reduce your annoyance if your child decides she doesn't love authentic 1970s bell bottoms after all.

This post was brought to you by Mattel.

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