I had a very interesting fashion sense as a child, I loved to wear mismatched socks (to my mother’s frustration every laundry day), and bright colors and incompatible patterns also made a regular appearance. I also loved to wear what I called “pattern outfits,” which consisted of alternating colors from head to toe, for example a green headband, white sweater, green pants, white socks, all finished off with green shoes. I was truly a sight to see.
Because my parents let me make my own choices about what to wear, I had lots of opportunities to exert control over my life, even in small ways. And even if my mom and dad may not have appreciated my fashion forward style (I distinctly remember being told I looked like bruise when I wore my favorite black and purple outfit), they let me do it anyways.
Giving children choices encourages responsibility, allows them to explore the world through trial and error, lets them to express their independence or autonomy and helps teach them how to make good choices in the future. Some things will not be choices; children can’t decide whether they go to doctor or do their homework or go to bed. But when we trust children to make some decisions for themselves and we start small, we are guiding them in the process of learning how to make good choices.
My fashion sense may have calmed down a bit in my adult years, although I do like to wear opposing patterns every now and again and I still wear mismatched socks almost every day. My own unique style, is all thanks to my parents trusting me to make my own, daring choices.
Kylie Rymanowicz, Extension Educator
Michigan State University Extension