Home / Teens / Preteens and Shopping for Clothes

Preteens and Shopping for Clothes

An individual’s choice of clothing often reflects their sense of self. Most preteens are fostering a growing sense of self awareness and how they want to relate to the world of people outside of the family unit, One of the ways they can project their self image is through their taste in personal clothing. Unfortunately their choices may not agree with their parents’ selections or fall within the standards they’ve set for their children.

Depending on the individuals involved (regardless of the child’s gender) shopping trips for clothing can range from a pleasant outing to an experience comparable with a day in jail. It’s difficult to allow children to begin spreading their wings particularly when their selections affect how others may react to them when they’re unprotected. Some of the below guidelines may prove helpful although no two situations are exactly alike.

Set Standards

Regardless of how children struggle against them, they do and want boundaries. Parents should be clear on what is acceptable and expected. If a preteen selects something unacceptable on a outing with friends it should be returned. School standards must be met as well as those set by the family.

Be Flexible

While standards need to be in place children should be given some range of choice within the limits. Parents need to be aware of the effects peer pressure and the need to belong have on their young person. If an article of clothing falls within the rules it should be allowed even if it doesn’t suit a parent’s taste. Allowing children some freedom in selecting their clothing will give them a feeling of empowerment and take some of the sting out of parental controls.


If possible allow the young person a set amount of money to spend on clothing each month. While the preteen is still a bit away from adulthood they’re on their way. Once they’re faced with a set limit to spend on non-essential clothing they may learn a little more about the value of money. It’s amazing how hesitant a child will be become to purchase something when the money is coming out of their pocket. This extra freedom (again within family limits) will allow the young person to feel more control over their clothing and their self image. Making some mistakes, while staying in the guidelines, is to be expected. It’s a learning experience that will eventually help to produce an individual with self control and financial responsibility.


Watching children grow up is both painful and rewarding for a caring parent. When they want to talk time should be taken to listen to their side. Sometimes standards need to be reset in order to reflect the outside world. While a parent should never give in obviously bad choices, they should be open to relatively harmless trends. For instance if a preteen’s head seems to be in the right place, a period of wearing darker clothing will probably prove harmless. Most youngsters come out of trends by themselves but allowing them the freedom to indulge will give them a sense of freedom and give the parents more energy to win larger battles.

Disagreements at this age are common and to be expected. But parents who keep a firm line on inappropriate clothing and allow some freedom on others will see their child develop their own sense of style even if they do stumble a little along the way.