From generations earlier, it’s normal for tweens and teens to want to feel older than they are – or try to fit in with a cooler-clique, but at what cost?
Most every parent has experienced their tween or teen girl or even boy (with those pants hanging off their butts) that make us cringe!
In a culture where midriff-baring pop icons surround us, it can be increasingly difficult to convince teenage girls that dressing modestly is actually important. As girls become teenagers and begin to assert their independence by testing boundaries, one of the more common ways that such behavior presents itself is through more risqué wardrobe choices.
As a parent or educator, figuring out how to encourage more modest styles of dress without alienating a willful teen and causing her to become even more attached to her new, more suggestive style can be a serious challenge.
For teenage girls who are struggling to stand out from their peers and are battling secret insecurities, equating their blossoming sexuality with increased popularity and attention from the opposite sex can be very common. When they understand that their worth is based upon far more important qualities than their burgeoning sex appeal, they may be more tempted to eschew revealing clothes in favor of more modest choices that take the attention off of their bodies. Talking about the importance of strong self-esteem and helping to boost your teen’s confidence in herself can be one of the more effective methods of curbing a new predilection for wearing inappropriate clothing.
Establish Boundaries at a Young Age
As a child moves into the tween years – before her body begins to develop, but as she’s beginning to establish her own tastes and sense of style – it’s wise to start talking about immodest clothing and begin establishing boundaries regarding what you do and do not find appropriate. Even though most tween girls have not yet developed more womanly physical attributes, banning shorts that are inappropriately short or tops that are overly tight can help her to understand early on that such things won’t be acceptable as she gets older. An open dialogue about why immodest clothing can attract negative attention should start early, that way she’s well aware of your expectations and has an understanding of why revealing clothing is problematic.
Don’t Buy Revealing or Immodest Clothing
While a teen that’s determined to wear revealing clothes will find a way to get her hands on them, you can openly discourage a tendency to dress inappropriately by refusing to buy clothing that you find too mature or overly sexualized. When you’re shopping with your teen, it’s important to stand firm and not allow yourself to be swayed by pleas for clothing you don’t approve of or give in to teenage temper tantrums. When your child understands that you will not purchase such items, she’ll at least understand that you don’t approve of them. In order to make this method of encouraging more modest clothes effective, it’s important to follow up with calm and sincere conversations about why you won’t purchase revealing clothes and that you hope she’ll understand that you have only her best interests at heart.
Discuss the Image Your Teen Wishes to Portray
Seeing the attention lavished upon scantily-clad celebrities and noticing the attention that she gets when she wears revealing clothing can send a teen the message that less clothing sets her apart from the crowd and helps her to stand out. What she doesn’t typically understand is that the kind of attention she’s attracting is probably not the kind she’s seeking. Talking about the kind of image that she wishes to portray and the fact that skimpy clothing can cause people to see only her physical attributes and not her intelligence or character may help to dissuade your teen from dressing in such a manner, especially if she doesn’t understand that attention from the opposite sex based upon her revealing clothing is almost always conditional.
Explaining that boys who praise her lack of modesty and seek out her company when she’s dressed in a revealing fashion are almost invariably not the kind who are looking for actual relationships or who have much regard for her feelings can appeal to the romanticism that teenage girls can harbor. Let her know that sexual attention isn’t love, and that dressing more modestly can attract the attention of boys who are interested in her mind and personality, rather than her body.
Trying to convince your teenager to wear less revealing clothing and dress more modestly can be an uphill battle, especially if her friends and others in her immediate social circle are prone to dressing inappropriately. It may take quite some time before you see actual results from your efforts, but it’s important to stick to your proverbial guns in the interest of consistency and establishing parental authority.