Expert reveals how parents can encourage individuality when kids go back to school

Taking your kids shopping for back-to-school outfits and accessories gives them autonomy to shape their self-expression. At the same time, be mindful of the school’s dress code, adds parenting expert Cathy Domoney: “We can choose to respect and honor our uniqueness while also respecting and honoring others.”

When in doubt, ask the school: Are ripped jeans acceptable? Can your preschooler wear pajamas or a princess costume to class? If a “Love Is Love” shirt breaks the rules, would a rainbow backpack be ok?

If your school’s policies unfairly compromise your child’s individuality, it may be time to reconsider your options. In 2018, a Louisiana school came under fire for refusing to let a black student wear hair extensions, via NBC News. The family argued that the school’s rules on natural hair were discriminatory and transferred their daughter to a different school.

Domoney considered individuality when choosing a school for one of her children. Her daughter, who had been bullied in previous years, considered her ears pierced to be an important part of her identity. One of the schools on Domoney’s list had a strict policy against multiple earrings, so she and her husband crossed it off their list. “As parents, we understood that the emotional and personal cost of this change would have been too high,” she says. “We found the right place for her, where she was accepted for who she is.” Expert reveals how parents can encourage individuality when kids go back to school

Lindsay Lowe

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