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Back to School with a tween...Oh My! helping your tween coordinate outfits

"You wanna wear that?!?!?"

This was the response I silently whispered to myself when my tween, Flower, walked into the room one day wearing an outfit she had picked out.

Oh lawd, I knew this day would come sooner than later. After all, at the time, she was around 7 years old.

Now, I know some of you may be thinking that letting her pick out her own outfits is long overdue. Yeah, I'll give you that point. But in my defense, I am a recovering control freak. Part of my recovery is letting things go. Control freaks like routines and she is screwing with mine!

Nevertheless, with my type A personality, I decided that there would be benefits to allowing her to pick out her own clothes. There are certain values I want her to enter into middle school with, which is in a couple of years.

Giving her the freedom to choose her own outfits builds self esteem. 

Self esteem is especially critical during these tween years because they are already learning how to fit in. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more apt to engage with others, participate in activities, speak with confidence and to have respect for ourselves and others. Same applies to tweens. Something as simple as matching those pants with that shirt gives them autonomy to develop their own sense of style, further boosting their confidence, building that self esteem. 

Giving her the freedom to choose her own outfits builds decisiveness.

I'll admit at 41 years of age, I still struggle with answering my Hubs' question of "where do you want to go for dinner?"

To save my daughter's future husband from dealing with this, I'll let her pick up this decisiveness trait now by picking out her own clothes! Learning this trait sets our tweens up for success as they move through middle, high school, college, life. It's good to know what you want, when you want it, how you are going to get it instead of always wavering back and forth. 

Giving her the freedom to choose her own outfits builds budgeting skills.

Fingers crossed on this one.

Definitely need my girl to get this one. She knows that I don't pay full price for anything. I am not a couponer but I know how to shop for a deal and deal with store staff to see my side. 

Tweens are expensive, they like expensive things. As parents, we can sometimes cater to that, feeding the beast. But two broken tablets later, I am out of that game. 

The skill here is to shop around and find the better deal. Budgeting is not something that's taught in schools so it's up to us parents to teach our tweens this essential life skill. We are a microwave society, meaning we want stuff right now! Budgeting gives us (I say "us" because I am still working to make budgeting my friend) time to think about if we really need those new shoes. has a nice article on money lessons kids need to master. 

Hopefully, by learning this skill, tweens will value their purchases. So many times, my tween refuses to wear things I've bought that she didn't pick out. I am talking brand new stuff that I have had to shuffle off to Goodwill. 

Parents, if we can drill this into our tweens, we can sit back and relax. Press Cruise Control cause are in guide mode now. Guide mode has some things we can still do to help them along the way. 

We can help guide them by:

  • Helping them clean out their closets and drawers, getting rid of clothing that is too small, tight, or not even their style anymore. I like to do this with her, giving her a chance to decide what stays and what goes. If I see something that is too tight/small, I will have her try it on just so that she can see for herself (you know at this age, they think they know everything, so better to show them and save your words from telling them). Now there are some pieces of clothing that may be too tight/small that you may want to keep. Each year, I buy a birthday shirt, usually with her name and that year's age. These will become nostalgic pieces that I can torture her with as she grows older. 
  • Offering advice if it's a specific occasion they need to dress for. For instance, on PE days at school, I give her suggestions on wearing something loose fitting since she will be moving around.  Of course, on school picture days I do a lot of suggesting!
  • Getting her in the habit of picking outfits on Sundays for the entire week. This might be a stretch because you have to factor in different things, like the weather and other activities. The point here is to teach the skill of planning ahead and being flexible enough to change plans if necessary
  • Asking her how a certain outfit makes her feel when she's wearing it. This is one my Hubs uses on my and it works. It makes me really think about how comfortable I will be if I wear that particular outfit. Is the outfit flattering or will it make me look like a long legged Oompa Loompa (for all my fans of the original Willy Wonka).
  • Having patience. Teaching tweens how to mix colors and patterns takes time and patience. I mostly shop at Old Navy for Flower's clothes. If you visit their site, they have a "favorite looks" section that pairs cute outfits with shoes and accessories. Use this as a guide, don't think you have to rush out and buy each item listed, remember those budgeting skills I mentioned earlier? Be sure to view this stuff with the tween before buying, unless your tween is good with your choices. 

Have some fun with this stage. Trust me, you will need these happy moments to reflect upon in the near future. Might as well store some up now. 

I shared some old pics of my days in elementary school with my daughter. In between bursts of laughter, she admitted to liking some of the outfits. 

I didn't mind the laughter because I showed her that I was once a gangly, awkward 9 year old. 

I turned out ok, to the point that I can dress myself. 


What has been the most "colorful" outfit your kid has ever picked out.? BONUS: what would your mom say was the most "spirited" outfit you picked out as a kid?

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