Question: how early do children begin to develop personal style preferences?
Answer: pretty darn early.
You don’t have to be a parent to know that kids start to develop a sense of personal style at an early age. But, why?
In my opinion, children get the broad brush treatment early and often. They’re herded, often in groups, to and from places like school and the park. Their preferences for food and activities are usually chosen for them, simply based on their age. But these are little, individual people, and they’re craving individuality.
When I was 4 years old, I refused to wear anything but dresses. Pants wouldn’t do. Shorts wouldn’t do. Even the adorable corduroy pants-suit my grandmother sent me was just not happening. I chalked this anecdote up to my persnickety ways – until I began to hear stories from my friends about their children also refusing to wear certain things.
And, so, when you think of it that way, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that kids want to develop some sense of identity in response to a world that wants to make choices for them.
When you’re sending your elementary-age child back to school, give them the opportunity to be as expressive as possible. But buying a new wardrobe for a child has some frustrating pit-falls.
I probably don’t have to tell you this, but – kids grow fast. And their preferences change quite drastically based on developing emotions and mimicking what they see on their peers. Also, did I mention children are inherently very messy?
Clothing a child is like a 15-year dress rehearsal for teaching the child how to eventually clothe herself. So, you can see how keeping up with clothing a child can get expensive – but it doesn’t have to be.
Enter: Goodwill of Orange County.
Shopping at Goodwill of Orange County is easy because it receives gently-used clothing donations, and also unsold, brand new clothing from large retailers, making it very easy for you, as a parent, to give your child the opportunity to craft a unique, expressive – but, very affordable – back to school wardrobe.
And we’re not just talking clothes for picture-day. Goodwill can help you style your mini-me for both school time and after school.
So, here is my strategy for back to school shopping: leave the kids at home. Seriously. Do not take them with you when shopping – just go by yourself and pick out a good selection for them to “shop” from at home. It will be 100% less overwhelming and they’ll still feel included in the process.
Make it a fun, family event. Maybe tell them the “back to school fairy” came for a visit.
Although Goodwill doesn’t take clothing returns, if something doesn’t work, you can just re-donate it. Or swap with another mom! Since most items for kids are five dollars and under, it makes stocking up on t-shirts, shorts, sharp button downs, dresses and even shoes virtually guilt free.
And, the best part is that, with every purchase you make, you’re helping real people in your community get and keep jobs and a sense of purpose.
Hey, speaking of style, Goodwill of Orange County is hosting an exciting, back to school contest! Just submit your creative, “back to school”-themed photo and you could win a MacBook Air, a Chromebook or other great prizes. Click here to enter and for more details.