Our little ones have so much to teach us! As new arrivals to this world, they’re the most original versions of themselves they’ll ever be. Since I’m a fashion enthusiast and entrepreneur, one of the things I wanted to encourage most in my children was their innate style. A healthy love of fashion has benefited me in life, and I imagined it would benefit their development, too. I was right! They’ve learned to use fashion to express themselves and gather confidence. Those are skills they’ll use for life.
In those first hectic years of potty training, sleep training, and other training, make an additional effort, and I guarantee it will pay off. Here are 5 easy strategies for style-training children. I hope they resonate with you!
1. Set Minimal Limits
A toddler’s life is filled with “no’s”. Next time you’re getting ready to tell your child she can’t wear something, ask yourself if you need to set that limitation. If she wants to wear a tutu to school and the dress code allows for it, why not? If she’s uncomfortable, she’ll decide against it next time. If your little boy wants to wear winter gloves to a summer party, let him. Kids love to design their own superhero outfits and they’ll use whatever’s around to do it. Forget what you know about what clothing feels good when, and let your children make their own judgments.
2. Get Matchy
One of the best ways to encourage a sense of style while boosting self-esteem, is to wear matching looks. Does your little girl want to show up to dinner in a sequin dress? Whip out your own sequins to show the world that you condone your child’s eccentricity. Maybe your son wants to show up underdressed to a picnic because he’s in the mood to stay comfortable. Prepare some adorable matching mommy-and-me logo shirts or flip flops. You’ll both have a great, comfortable, time.
3. Jump on Any Opportunity to Dress Up
You don’t have to be a celebrity to make every day a dress-up opportunity. With a little imagination, it’s easy to turn any occasion into an excuse to put together a look. The obvious dress-up occasions include holidays, parties, Disneyland trips, and Halloween. Encourage your child to get inspired by other things, too: the first day of spring, a good-or-bad mood day, a special lesson in school, a trip to grandma’s house, and more. The opportunities are plentiful when you stop thinking of “dressing up” as “getting formal”. It may just mean wearing a special accessory or following a theme.
4. Don’t Put Fashion First
As fun as fashion is, children should grow up knowing that other things come first: love, comfort, and getting things done, to name a few. No matter what your child wears, she should try not to let her love of fashion eclipse these values. If dressing more fancy than his friends leads to an inflated ego, then discourage overdressing. If she has to sit out during recess games because of her outfit, then I’d also recommend a change. Sometimes, though, there are ways to make an “impractical” piece feel more comfortable and accommodating. For example, try pairing a tutu with leggings and sneakers!
5. Help Them Find Healthy Fashion Role Models
Children need good role models, and it’s a plus if those role models have a great sense of style. Your toddler probably doesn’t consume much media yet, but she can get fashion inspiration from around her, including appropriate children’s books and movie characters. Disney princesses, Anne of Green Gables, and Harry Potter are some of the characters my little girls got fashion inspiration from. You’ll be surprised at who your children imitate!
When you allow them to dress freely and creatively, they start the day with a little play and discovery. If fashion has played a big part in your life, you’ll know exactly how satisfying it can be to wear the right outfit (or even the wrong outfit that becomes perfect with a paradigm shift). Try out some of these tips and watch your kiddo bloom!