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  • Ania Schwartzman

Choosing a first day of school outfit

Back to School! As you prepare to get back to schedules and routines and gather the necessary school supplies, what is most likely on your youngster’s mind is what will she wear on the first day of school.

As simple as it may sound, picking that first day outfit brings out so much more for families than you can imagine. It’s not just grabbing a t-shirt and jeans, but choosing the outfit that will define who she is or wants to be in this moment. Most teens agonize over what they plan to wear. What makes the choice especially challenging is that so often, our young children are struggling with concerns about their bodies, self-esteem or intense worry about how they are perceived by others. Believe it or not, all of this gets played out in the experience of choosing a first day of school outfit. So often, I hear from parents about how difficult it is to shop with their teen. If it's not a struggle to keep skirts from being too short, jeans too tight, ..then it's about the colors chosen or the style desired.

Here's what I say to parents: let your children be. Seriously. If clothes are like armor..kids use the clothes they choose to present to the world who they are and/or who they want to be. Clothes are one form of expression and if we squash our children’s desire to express themselves now, we do them a disservice in their journey to becoming a confident adult. That being said, I would never suggest you send your children out into the world without preparing them for what others’ might say about their clothing choices.

Talk to your youngster about what others’ may say. Be kind and patient. Offer to role play with your child a few different scenarios so that she is quick with a proper response. When my son wanted to wear nail polish to preschool, we discussed what others might say to him and he decided he would tell people that “I’m like a rock star!” If you feel that shopping with your youngster is too stressful and you do not think you can be kind and patient about her choices, that’s okay. Just ask someone else to take her. In fact, I’d be happy to do it.

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