It may be snowing in Colorado, but it’s pushing 90 in LA, and the heat will reach all of us sooner or later. While lots of folks are worried about what these extreme weather swings mean for the atmosphere, (and I am thankful for scientists!) I focus my attention on a parents need to understand the effect the heat can have on kids. Let me explain. Yes, dehydration from the heat is one issue, but some children have been waiting all winter for an excuse to bare their skin in clothes that are more suitable for a dance club than school! Let the battles begin.
Not necessarily. For parents, a good place to start is determine your child’s school’s policy on dress code and how is it enforced.
At the very least, schools should prohibit children from exposing their belly buttons, breast cleavage, butt cleavage and the wearing suggestive slogans on t-shirts by either students or staff. It is perfectly natural for teens and pre-teens to push boundaries and arrive in school wearing something that bends—if not actually breaks—the dress code rules. School staff should react firmly to any breaches in the rules, while not outright embarrassing or humiliating the student in any way. Consider calling a guidance counselor and asking about thier policies and procedures.
A common problem among younger kids is they may believe that a certain type of look equates to being attractive—without understanding that “the look” has a sexual connotation. When a nine-year-old girl chooses a bedazzled tube top with a decidedly “hookerish” look, her parents needs to supplement their “no” with an explanation beyond a “because I said so.” Explaining to kids that certain kinds of clothes carry a message (one that is not always appropriate for their age) is a good place to start. Try to use a uniform as an example and say something to this effect—“When you wear shin guards, I know you’re getting ready to play soccer.” This starts the discussion about how a particular look is seen by some people as a signal that you’re dressed for a specific activity. You could explain to young kids that certain items of clothing are seen as a “uniform” for people who like to “kiss” or “flirt” or an equivalent term that will make an eight -year-old think, “Yuck.” What a great opportunity to discuss how people decide what they think is pretty, focusing on cocenpts like choice and taste and individuality!
Girls are especially are pressured to appear looking sexual at young ages, by being exposed to promotions for baby bikinis and padded bras for eight-year-olds. Boys may need help understanding what is really conveyed by the tough-guy looks. But all kids need to know your rules, your values and believe that you will enforce the dress code set by their school.
Learn more about how to support your child’s sexual health and safety from my book, The Sex Wise Parent by visiting www.sexwiseparent.com