We all have them. The pictures from when our moms dressed us. The awkward fashions, the clothes that fit a little too tight, the matchy, matchy dresses, or the horribly mismatched dresses - none of us is exempt.
Why should this be? Is it written somewhere that children can’t choose their own fashions?
Your children will look cute no matter they wear, whether it’s a princess dress on a Saturday afternoon or ripped jeans to a party. The most important concern should be that they’re allowed to express themselves, grow to be creative, confident in their choices, independent and open-minded.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should be able to pick their own clothes starting at ages 4-5. How about you give it a try? Here are some benefits of letting your children pick their own fashion.
You may see your children, as - well - children, but it's likely they don't see themselves that way. Children are beginning to define themselves and the clothes they wear are going to be a big part of that definition. Children have few freedoms in a life that is often created and structure by their parents, so shouldn’t they have freedom of expression? Give them a chance to experiment with creating an identity for themselves. It’s a valuable skill that will go a long way to building confidence now and in the future.
Let your child’s personality shine! It's easy for children to follow the crowd, but fostering individuality by encouraging them to take their own direction provides a powerful model to forge leadership skills and independence. If your children are dressing a little fashion forward, or backward for that matter, take it as a positive sign that they may have a future in management!
Does your child keep begging for those Lulu Lemon sweatshirts that all her friends are wearing? Exclusive cliques like to wear clothing with exclusive prices. If your child is excluded from a group because of what she can (or can’t) afford to wear, use it as a teaching moment to school her on superficiality as well as what it means to shop for a good deal. And in the age of excessive screen time, a cheeky bargain-hunting excursion offers the opportunity to bond with your kids while teaching them to be resourceful and responsible. Bonus points if you walk them through calculating discounts for % off deals!
Some things are worth fighting for. Your child may believe his clothing choice is worth fighting for, but do you? Worse comes to worst, he makes a few fashion faux pas, but do you really want to force your child to wear clothes he doesn’t feel comfortable in? Moms, chill on this one, it’s not worth the extra stress.
They’ll Wear What They Select
If you’re wondering why those Benneton sneakers still have their price tags on them, admit it; he’s just not that into them. When you spend good money on your kid’s clothes, it can be irritating to find them hanging in the closet unworn. If you want to get the best return on your investments, leave it up to them to choose. The more they choose, the less you’ll lose.
Some children dress to stand out, others dress to fit in. Making friends means a lot to children, and, unfortunately, so can wearing the right clothes. Even if you don't agree with it on principle, allow your child to wear the clothes the other kids are wearing if he or she expresses the desire to do so, but be sure to communicate that it’s important to forge your own identity and be comfortable in your own skin. Some kids aren’t particularly interested in fashion as a means of expression, so if they’re aiming to blend in through their apparel, be sure to encourage and foster the parts of him or her that make them stand out!
Dress-up is one of the first games a child plays. Children love sorting through boxes and dressing up in different outfits and seeing how they look in them. Think of letting your child pick their own clothes as an older version of dress up. In a way, they’re still just curious about the final result.
Developing Their Tastes
While they might be pairing plaid pants with a checkered shirt or wearing head-to-toe teal green that can only be describe as an eye sore, allowing your kids to design their outfits encourages them to observe the fashion choices of others, which in turn provokes them to decipher what they do or do not like. This observation, comparison, and analysis has an impact on their tastes in other artistic mediums throughout life. After weeks, months, or years of fashion faux pas, all that experimentation in their clothing expression will pay off when you start to witness their individual style becoming more cohesive, and hopefully ever true to their unique identity.
Giving your children the responsibility of dressing themselves forces them to make decisions for themselves early in life. You may roll your eyes as they hop into the car to ship off for school in a very questionable get-up, but that simple daily act of going through the motions of making a definitive choice can foster decisiveness and garner greater trust in their ability to forge opinions and make selections.
Tangible Creative Expression
In the digital age, it seems increasingly seldom to find tangible platforms for expressing creativity outside of ‘the cloud’. Taking a moment of pause to recognize the patterns before them, observing complimentary and clashing colors, and appreciating the unique textures and fibers are great pillars to form a foundation for kids who take an interest in visual arts, web design, photography, interior design, advertising, social media, and beyond! Having creative insight is invaluable in every class or career they’ll encounter in life!