Children see things differently than adults. Their thoughts and associations about clothes are often innocent. My son loves running, football, and athletics. He is delighted to visit the sports shop, and he especially likes the bright, silky, and air-wicking fabrics. This means that he is a fan of polyester football kits. Unfortunately, for me, it also means that I am not able to bear polyester. Both of us have had to come to a compromise, which has been a good thing.
We don’t live in a world where everything is as simple and joyous as children’s minds. It is normal to worry about how children will be treated by their peers and adults, as well as our fears of being judged in our role as parents. Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of your child and allow them to go in their wild outfits, but if they are happy and you let them know you’re not worried, they will likely be able take it all in stride. Be aware of your expectations and conform to them if you feel uncomfortable.
1. STOP SLOGANS AND SIGNIFICANTLY GENERED STYLES
Children should be able to define themselves. Don’t let the high streets dictate their character with empty slogans and words. It is strange for children to use words they cannot even read. Sometimes girls want to wear tutus and dresses, but sometimes boys do. Adults are the ones deciding if it’s okay. It’s not just the children who make the clothes, choose the colours and convince them to wear certain styles. Talk to your children about gendered clothing and don’t force them to conform. Clothing should be fun!
2. PATTERNS SHIELD DIRT, BRIGHT COLORING IS HAPPY FOR BOYS and GIRLS
Are you averse to choosing blue and green for boys, and pink and yellow or vice versa for girls? We’re all taught at some point that certain colours are meant for girls and others for boys. This is also evident in the shops. On a recent visit to H&M boys I was dismayed to see walls-to-wall navy blue, brown and green. This is what boys are taught. They must be serious and subdued. They are not associated with sunshine or flowers? All children are suited for bright and cheerful colors, and patterns hide dirt!
3. CHECK THAT OLDER CHILDREN CAN DRESS SELF AND LET LITTLE ONES PRACTISE
Be aware of awkward buttons or sticky zips. Children often become frustrated trying to dress themselves and are often frustrated. Younger children can practice taking off clothes and putting them back on. Although it may be frustrating when you have to do it all over again, it is a great way to practice for when they go to school or nursery. Reception is the first year of formal schooling. Children are expected to be able and able to change themselves for PE by themselves.