When our children are young, they tend to pay more attention to themselves, choosing to do things and dress in a way that makes them most happy. But as they grow older, they start caring a lot more about what their peers think of them. Between 8 and 12 years old, they would want to look cool to their friends and fit in with the other kids. At this age, even the most confident child can become insecure and oversensitive.
The confidence that they once had when they were younger would gradually fade as their bodies change, especially for girls, as they begin to develop breasts and see an increase in their hip size. This can make them feel self-conscious about their appearance. Some girls may even begin to reject clothing items like skirts, sleeveless dresses, or t-shirts.
Pre-teens also become more aware of society's gender roles and expectations of them. Girls start to be concerned about how fat, skinny, or pretty they are, and they are constantly pressured to look sexy or feminine, whereas boys begin to show less emotion in order to appear stronger and more masculine. These societal views can have a negative impact on your child's self-esteem and confidence, as well as force them to constantly change the way they dress, act, or speak in order to fit in or be liked by their peers.
This constant need to fit in will be detrimental to their sense of self and confidence, which is why parents must be cautious in guiding their children to their most confident style.
1. Let them be individuals
The pre-teen stage is an opportunity for your child to fully develop his or her own sense of identity and style as he or she transitions from being a child to a teenager. Not allowing your child to fully express themselves can impede their development and prevent them from truly discovering themselves and their preferences. Whatever your opinion is of your child's fashion sense, it is important to allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. Having the opportunity to experiment with fashion allows them to see what will truly suit them.
Consider how you would feel if you were in their shoes before forbidding your pre-teen from wearing something, such as short skirts for girls. The more you forbid them from wearing something at that age, the more likely they are to do it. Allow them to be creative with their fashion choices and to use their imagination.
2. Help them discover more about fashion
At such a young age, the world that your pre-teen has been exposed to is limited to what you’ve given them or allowed them to see. If you’ve only been dressing your daughter in a dress for girls or your son in shorts for boys, those are the only clothes they’ll know. Instead of keeping them in their own fashion bubble, take them on a fashion discovery journey to see what the world has to offer and how they can style the other gender's clothes for themselves as well.
Growing up without being able to see and try on all of the clothes they want can prevent them from learning about their body and what fits them. If they are given more opportunities to see and try new things, they will grow up knowing what looks best on them, such as how a pair of t-shirts and skirts for girls does not suit them as well as a dress, or how styling a jacket over their outfits will make them look better.
When your child looks good, they will also feel good and gain confidence. As a parent, by being a part of their journey, you’ll take on the role of an advisor and be the person they go to for more fashion advice, which will help you not only bond with your child but also help your child develop their sense of self and self-expression.
3. Manage their emotions
Lastly, if your pre-teen’s experiments with fashion are ridiculed or criticized by their peers, their confidence can be crushed and they may feel discouraged. When this happens, it is important to help your child better manage their emotions so that it does not snowball into a bigger self-esteem issue. Help them understand that fashion is very subjective, and what his/her peers consider to be unfashionable may be a work of art to another, and they should not change themselves just to fit into what society considers to be the norm. Individuality is far more important, and they must understand that everyone should respect others’ fashion choices.
You can get your pre-teens started on their journey to developing their own confident style simply by taking them shopping, where they can see for themselves the type of clothes there are and how people around them are styling these outfits. Alternatively, you can also browse through online clothing shops with them for a start.
SUNJIMISE Kids Fashion is an online one-stop kids' fashion shop in Singapore where you can find a wide range of boys’ and girls’ clothes online. Shop with us today!