Was back-to-school clothes shopping brutal? Nothing fit right. It wasn’t the right brand name. And you must be trying to ruin your child’s life because you refused to purchase the $100 pair of shorts. There is a reason behind our kids’ demands and level of excitement around the shopping experience; it goes deep into acceptance and identity.
When tweens and teens get a chance to buy something new, they subconsciously see it as a potential to increase their status at school, to improve relationships, to get on the sports team, to get a boyfriend or girlfriend, and ultimately to be accepted. Whoa, that’s a lot riding on one outfit or pair of shoes. So how do we get our kids to understand these truths when the world around them plays by different rules? Here are 3 lessons we can teach using the power of the back to school outfit.
Be an example
First, we as parents have to model the truths we want our kids to live out. Our kids have bought into a type of distorted thinking which is perpetuated by our culture—that appearance is the epicenter in finding happiness and love. Yes, our appearance does matter, but it is not the place to find our ultimate value. Our outward veneer does not sum up our character, our values, or our worth. If relationships are built on the foundation of outward appearance and other superficial criteria, then the relationships offer no real security or substance. In this case, we need to avoid making critical statements about ourselves or others based on looks. If we aren’t careful, we could sway our kids into believing that looks can control happiness.
Praise what matters
Secondly, put emphasis on character traits and the work ethic that you see in your child. Too often we praise or compliment the most obvious facet like performance in school or sports or how nice they look in an outfit. Because appearance and performance are not always sustainable, kids can become anxious when thinking about maintaining the same level that previously was praised. Help them, instead, build character which does last.
And finally, help them explore their design. Each person has a unique personality as well as a set of strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledge their weaknesses while helping them draw on their strengths. Use our Strengths and Struggles Assessment to get started. So during this back-to-school season, use your time to talk with your child about the pressure of appearance and the “truths” the culture believes.
What is one thing you can do today that will help take the pressure off of your child’s appearance?