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Nothing matches up to the worry a parent can feel for their child. It’s a big time commitment, for one thing. Research from 2018 shows that parents spend an average of 37 hours a week fretting about their kids. The big worries are about safety and happiness, but several other worries are related to school, as parents fear that their children won’t fit in at school or will have problems making new friends.
You can’t control everything that happens once you drop your child off at school, but you can do some things to help them succeed. There are the basics like feeding them a good breakfast and making sure they’re getting enough sleep, but don’t overlook their self-confidence either. Here are ways to ensure your children go back to school with a style that makes them feel confident.
Give them agency.
While you were growing up, your parents may have come home with a new backpack from the discount store and handed it to you without any ceremony. That may sound like a tempting option now that you have kids of your own. It’s much easier than taking them to the store and asking them to pick between a backpack with unicorns on it or a backpack with cats on it.
But you can give your kids some sense of investment in the process without handing them complete control. Your kids will be the ones wearing the clothes and using the backpack every day, so you need to be sure they’re getting something they’ll actually like.
Kids backpacks have changed a lot in the last ten or 20 years. There are more styles available than ever, and you also have a wider range of prices to pick from. You can shop online if that makes it easier, since online shopping usually isn’t quite as exhausting as going to a traditional store. You know your child’s limits better than they do sometimes, so take that into account when you’re figuring out how to shop for school clothes and supplies.
Take age into account.
It’s likely that a 14-year-old has much stronger opinions about their back-to-school style than a six-year-old, and that’s how it should be. If you have kids in different age groups, it’s important to treat them as individuals rather than as a single monolith. Actually, that’s true even if you have twins who were born just minutes apart. Give your kids room to express themselves within reason.
That means you don’t want to give them too many choices and risk overwhelming them. For younger children, it’s best to let them pick between two things. So if you know their favorite colors are purple and green, it might be wise to present them with a green shirt and a purple shirt, then ask which one they like better.
Teens and pre-teens will want more autonomy, and you can give them that without handing over your credit card and dropping them off at the mall. Remind them of your school’s dress code, for starters. It’s natural for teens to push back against rules at this point in their lives, and to be fair, there can be systematic issues with some dress codes. You want to teach them to question things when necessary, but also to pick their battles.
If your child says they’re “too old” for a particular style, resist the urge to get sarcastic. You were like that once as well. You can set boundaries about fashion choices while still giving your teen or pre-teen the same kindness you needed at that age.