In light of the news of Abercrombie & Fitch marketing a push-up, padded bikini top to children as young as age seven and Wal-mart’s announcement that they are introducing a line of make-up for 8-12 year old girls, I thought it was time to write about ‘tween fashion and parenting/caretakers dealing with appropriate dress at this stage.

As children hit the ‘tween years, a little more freedom of choice and expression can be given. If it’s rude, it shouldn’t be on their shirt. At this age a lot of “fashion” is about fitting in. That’s fine as long as it’s not taken too far. Teenagers can wear clothes that follow the current popular style without compromising their level of self-respect.

It doesn’t matter if they spend their own money on an outfit or not. It’s about the parent/caretaker “advising” them and creating the boundaries. You are giving you ‘tween the responsibility to execute the values you taught them. If they don’t use good judgment when executing this, they should not be able to use their own money and the item should be taken away.

It’s up to you as their parent/guardian to teach them what is and isn’t appropriate by pointing out specific things on characters on TV, in the media, and music videos, and discussing it with them. Speak to them about how the body is beautiful and they should be proud of it and embrace it, but also how there is a limit to that and beyond being appropriate, there is also promiscuity in the world. Just because it’s on the catwalk, doesn’t mean it’s wearable on the street.

Don’t be biased between male and female, there are limits for boys as well. For instance, they should NOT be wearing their pants on their bums or adult slogans on their shirts!

For both young females and males at this stage, it’s also important to stress to them every one is an individual. Fashion isn’t always about following the trends, it’s about leading with some of your own as well. Some of the most important, smart, iconic, and successful people in this world are tops at what they do because they did something unique and different. They are leaders, not followers. This is a lesson that extended beyond fashion and into everyday life.

Respect is the key message when dealing with the attire of both ‘tween boys and girls. Start teaching them respect when they’re young and carry through with that message, along with your family’s morals and values, as they grow. You may encounter a little push-and pull or a period of “feeling their oats,” but ultimately, if you’ve laid the groundwork early, a little guidance during this time will likely be all they need.


Copywritten by Jo Frost

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