Elizabeth shares empowering insights in response to MomtoKaylee's thoughtful question about nurturing her child's unique authenticity. Dive into the latest AEA #AskElizabethAnything for valuable advice on fostering a space where kids can confidently express their true selves!
Q: Dear Elizabeth, My child is nervous about dressing outside of gender norms at school. For instance, she loves to wear her brother’s sports jersey and baggy sweatpants but only at home and never to school. She says she’s worried about what her girlfriends will say if she’s wearing ‘boy clothes’ and not the pink and purple they are used to seeing her in. How do I help support her in being confident in expressing herself authentically and being comfortable with doing so outside of the home?
To start, I love that you allow (and empower) your daughter to wear her brother’s clothing without making her feel wrong about liking the way they look and feel on her. Kids are naturally curious about many things and giving her the freedom to wear what she wants to at home will give her the confidence and a sense of self that can then be translated into places outside of the home, at school and with her peers.
That being said, it’s important to let Kaylee lead the way with how she wants to present herself to her friends at school since you are not there to see the pressure she may be feeling.
While you have no problem with her wearing her brother’s clothing, it’s important to remain neutral when it comes to Kaylee expressing herself outside the safety of your home. If you want to gently encourage her to wear clothing that she seems more comfortable in at school, take her shopping in the boys sections and let her pick out a couple of new items that are just for her. And also explain to her that self-expression through clothing can be creative and fun and there are no limits on how she wants to dress and which section of the clothing store she wants to pick out items from. Empower her to pick out items that make her authentically feel good and check in with her as she mixes in new clothing about the ways that these new items make her feel. Also, share with her some helpful tips for communicating with her friends about her style evolution and how mixing it up from her usual pieces inspires her creativity and also allows her to explore new ways of expressing herself. These conversations could also give her friends and peers the permission to do the same!
Kids love to show off their new clothes and this may inspire her to step outside of her comfort zone of her usual way of dressing and into a new way of expression that is authentic to Kaylee. Keep creating a safe space for Kaylee to be whatever she wants to be and to express herself freely while also understanding that she will change and grow and her ways of dressing and self-expression will continue to evolve. The reward will be a child who knows who she is and who has internal confidence in herself – and that is priceless for her own personal growth journey.
Have a question about navigating the gendered-clothing aisles, practicing conscious parenting, embracing change, challenging and changing gender-norms, raising twins or anything else? Send us your questions and Elizabeth will give you her best answer in the next AEA.