How to help your teen dress her age?
Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash
The teen years are when your daughter will start to look for new ways of dressing herself. How can you help her dress with confidence, but in such a way that she doesn’t send the wrong message?
Expose her to a variety of styles of clothing
First of all, make sure you listen to your teenager when she talks about her clothes. Her words might seem shallow, but the sentiment is very age-appropriate. She wants to be recognized by her peers as cool, but stand out at the same time.
Instead of telling your teen what not to wear, open her eyes to a variety of options. Help her shop for basics and teach her how to style them with accessories, jackets, and footwear. Ask her what colors and styles she’s more attracted to, and help her make decisions. If she’s not sure what she wants (“That’s too colorful!”), then help her find digital lookbooks that would help.
Ask her what identity she wants to present to her peers. Is she afraid to stand out? Afraid to blend in? What does she like the most about herself? How can her clothing reflect that? Remember, this is the first time your teenager is experiencing questions like these. These emotions are new and both exciting and scary for her.
Set a good example
The woman your daughter interacts with the most is her mother. If you want your daughter to dress in a way that helps her peers and partners respect her, then you need to dress in a way that will influence her. Here are some ways you can do that.
Take her body changes seriously. Even if your daughter is well out of puberty, her body will still continue to change throughout her teenage years. Help your daughter stay open about her body changes by doing some practical things with her, like helping her navigate a bra sizing guide.
Dress for respect. If you want your daughter to dress well, start by dressing well. It might take a little sacrifice, especially if you’re used to wearing more of what you want, but your daughter needs to see that you value dressing well. She also needs to see that it is not just another rule you are imposing on her.
Invite your daughter to talk about her clothing choices with you. Whether you love her outfit or not, invite your daughter to share with you what she loves about her outfit. Encourage her to be honest if she doesn’t like her outfit but is only wearing it because all her peers think it looks cool.
Praise her achievements, not her look
Remember, your daughter is going through all those physical and hormonal changes at the same time. It’s a confusing and delightful time, but remember that your teenager will be, at least, ten times more sensitive to your words than at any other time in her life.
Since that is the case, you need to be careful to praise what your teenager achieves, instead of mentioning what she cannot change in the first place.
Be detailed in your praise. If her teacher isn’t the one praising your teen, draw the story out of your teenager. They might pass it off as “not a big deal,” but teenagers are very good at pretending they don’t care about what you say. Listen carefully to the details they give and reflect their words back with praise and enthusiasm.
Be encouraging in your daily interactions. You don’t have that many hours with your teen in a day. Make sure you give her a smile or an encouraging word at the beginning or end of every day. Belief in themselves is a great confidence booster. The more confident your teen is, the less likely they are to dress in a way that attracts the wrong kind of attention.
Implement a clothing policy
At certain points, as every parent knows, you will need to put your foot down over your teenager’s dressing choices. This doesn’t mean it will be a neat and friendly interaction. Here are some tips to navigate the challenge.
Ask yourself why you want to confront your teenager. Teenagers reason for themselves. “Too short,” “too see-through,” or “too bright” won’t work on them. They already have a set of reasons for what they chose to wear. Do you want to confront her because you’re not used to seeing her in those clothes? Are they actually age- and situation-appropriate?
Accept that your teen might not see your point. Whenever possible, have a conversation with your teenager about what she is wearing. Who does she want to please? Is it something she is actually comfortable wearing? Sometimes, allowing your teen to wear what they choose with an affectionate warning will help them observe and become aware of how their clothing changes how people see them. That’s a healthy place to start.
The teen years are the time to explore. Help your daughter by being open with her, building up her self-esteem, and being there for her when she needs you.