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Supporting their personal style in the face of peer pressure

Supporting their personal style in the face of peer pressure

As children get older, the effects of peer pressure might make them want to abandon their personal style in favor of peer-approved trends. How can you help your child resist the negative effects of peer pressure and stay true to their own unique sense of style?

Resisting the pressure to conform

In the early years, it’s easy to encourage your child’s personal style as the clothes they love go hand in hand with the freedom of being little. They might have a favorite set of denim overalls or a super soft sweater they want to wear every day, no matter how they look. But when an adorably feisty 5-year-old who dresses in a tutu and astronaut helmet becomes older, they might feel overwhelmed by beauty standards. So, resisting peer pressure with a standout, spirited fashion-statement may be frowned upon socially. The pressure on young people to conform to please peers and parents can become incredibly intense.

“Parents must understand that this generation is facing unprecedented pressure from peers and marketers,” says Rachel Simmons, best-selling author of Odd Girl Out and co-founder of Girls Leadership Institute. “[These] are powerful forces that push [girls] to want to fit in.”

How can parents help young people strike the balance between managing the negative peer pressure to fit in and the importance of learning how to find your own style?

Trend-following versus personal style

Experimenting with trends can be fun. But when young people copy a look because their friends wear it (or the fashion and beauty pages dictate it), they may be “on trend” – but that’s not the same as having their own style.

“Girls often say they like to express themselves and be unique,” says Alison Deyette, TV host, stylist, and lifestyle expert, “but when they actually stand with their friends, they all look the same”. She explains that young people often feel pressured to follow fashion rather than learning how to find your personal style amongst the trends.

Encourage your child to wear clothes that reflect their individual personality and make them feel comfortable. Celebrating individuality and helping them develop a balanced relationship with fashion will boost their confidence.

Value their opinion on personal styling

It’s important to reinforce your child’s efforts to cultivate their sense of style and self-expression. Show that you value their opinion by involving them in your own fashion choices. Go through your wardrobes together to discover the items you both love and have fun trying different pieces on.

Unique style spotting

When you’re teaching your child about how to be themselves, make a game of noticing people who look cool, unique and confident. Together, you can chat about how this inspires you in your own fashion choices. Once your child sees real people being unique and having fun with fashion, they might feel more confident in dressing to please themselves.

Next steps

  • Make a date with your daughter to go through her wardrobe – and your own. Both try everything on, and keep only the items that make you feel amazing. Identify which cuts and colors flatter each of you most and why, so you can both shop with those looks in mind in the future
  • Analyze new seasonal trends together. What do either of you love or loathe about them? Which trends do you each want to play with, and which will you avoid? Help her see that incorporating trends into her personal style should be a thoughtful choice, rather than a peer-driven obligation
  • Set a budget and try out some new shopping destinations together, rather than the homogenous chains where her peers shop. How about a market, thrift store, or independent boutique? Challenge each other to find one really great item (even if you decide not to purchase it)
  • Keep the conversation ongoing and encouraging. Let sharing ideas about personal style be a fun, bonding experience
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