By Linda Maslechko
Tweenhood can be a carefree stage in your daughter’s life, but it can also be a time of incredible challenge as she learns about her body and explores her growing independence. While fashion can serve as one form of self-expression during this time, it can also cause stress and anxiety as she copes with mixed messages from her peers and the complex world around her.
As a parent, you might be learning to relinquish some control over what she wears while recognizing that holding the purse strings doesn’t always mean having the last word in her fashion choices. The biggest danger for parents during this sensitive time is trying to parent with power instead of compromise because it risks damaging the parent-child bond that is so important during the tween years. The best way to create a firm foundation that will serve her for her tumultuous teen years is to maintain a strong connection while encouraging her age-appropriate freedom.
Shopping together can be an opportunity to learn more about your daughter while providing a real-life experience that allows her to grow into a responsible young adult. Having raised three daughters and seen first-hand thousands of parent-daughter shopping trips, the reality is often the opposite with both parties feeling frustrated by the experience.
Here are three tips for creating the most positive, empowering experience for your daughter:
Relax and Have Fun: It’s just fashion, not a career decision. Tweens are exploring their individuality so now is the time to be supportive and respect how she chooses to present herself to the world. The great thing about fashion is that it allows us to “try on” a certain style, without committing to it, so let her! She will appreciate you giving her the freedom to make her own style choices.
Focus on Feel: When she steps out of the dressing room, ask your daughter how she feels before commenting on how she looks. It’s natural to crave compliments and external validation, but even a well-meaning comment like “Oh, that’s fitting too tight” or “you need a bigger size” can be internalized as judgmental. Focusing on how fashion makes her feel is a more empowering approach.
Give her your approval: Though she might not always show it, your daughter wants your approval. Don’t try to make the fashion choices for her, but if you find it inappropriate, offer solutions that work better. For example, suggesting a camisole under a low-cut shirt is a great way to find an acceptable compromise. Be patient, and let her make some fashion mistakes, too.
I’ve seen too many parents crush their daughter’s spirits by withholding approval of anything she tries. This approach is counterproductive and leads to a negative experience for everyone. Instead, build her up with words of encouragement to let her know you’re her biggest fan and she’ll feel beautiful from the inside out.
Linda Maslechko is founder/CEO of Triple Flip, a leading brand in Canada for girls and tweens. It has grown from its original Calgary flagship store to 12 retail stores across the country, community event-based pop up stores and an ecommerce site tripleflip.ca.