BY SIMONA TERRON
It can be hugely rewarding to have an impressionable mini-me mimicking our every move, trying so adorably hard to sound just like mommy or look exactly like daddy. This is indeed how children learn from an early age and watching parents, siblings and assorted caretakers, is what gives them their cues about what to do and what not to. Psychologists have identified the concepts of mirroring and modelling as two ways in which very young children learn about the world, each other and most importantly, themselves, just by watching their parents. But while imitation is the best form of flattery, at what point does it become unhealthy for the child?
What they see is what you get
Children model their behaviours, tastes and even their life decisions later on, based on what they observe their parents doing, wearing, and saying. And while this may be desirable within a certain context, do you know how far you want this to go? Do you want your child to be a mirror image of you, with all your flaws and imperfections, or do you want them to bloom as special little people with personalities that are uniquely their own?
When it comes to sartorial choices, parents can tend to use the opportunity of dressing their child as an outlet through which they channel their creative energies. For moms and dads who spend so much time with their offspring, it is only natural that they use their baby as a cute little model whom they style with adorable outfits and even more endearing accessories.
Too much too soon
What is worrying is when parents start to dress their children like mini-adults, whether it is branded clothing that costs a bomb, or tiny kitten heels on a child who has barely learned to walk straight, or even putting on make-up at a terribly young age on a regular basis. If your baby is turning heads because he looks like a miniature version of a full-grown fashion model, perhaps you do have something to be thrilled about but will you maybe also start to examine your motives?
The trend of dressing kids in clothes that are clearly not child-friendly, and definitely nowhere near pocket-friendly, is inspirational for sure. Who doesn’t want complete strangers remarking on how good looking your child is? Or to revel in the satisfaction of seeing your little one perfectly fitted out in a coordinated get up that most adults would kill for? But does it justify spending all that money, time and energy if your child is not really benefiting from all this? And what about the fact that they may actually get negatively affected by too much focus on their appearances? Let’s also add to the fact that your child is more likely to grow out of those expensive clothes, even before they go out of style.
Trapped in the web
It’s no secret that social media bears much of the responsibility of fuelling this trend of ‘fashion kids,’ as they are known. And parents who initially get swept up in the craze just for fun, tend to get carried away in a bid to attract higher online traffic. So some moms spend hours styling and shooting their child just so they can post every day to Instagram. And certain dads splurge on diminutive versions of designer sunglasses and handcrafted shoes only so their child’s outfit is that much more ‘authentic,’ which will ensure that the pictures will get shared even more or even featured on some Best Dressed Kids blogs.
Creating mini-me me mes
Perhaps the biggest fallout of this trend that’s seemingly taking over the parenting world, is the messages we’re unknowingly imprinting on our children’s impressionable minds. Don’t you think this obsession with appearances is going to create little consumerist monsters of the future who are painfully superficial? That the amount of time we spend styling, dressing and accessorising a child will get them used to an unusual amount of attention being focused on them? It’s alarming to think also of the four-year-old who hesitates to run and jump on the playground because his skinny jeans are too tight or because her pretty little dress might get dirty and stained.
This time is precious
A lot of parents fall prey to the phenomenon of guilt-parenting; to make up for the lack of quality time they spend with the child, they shower them with gifts of toys and expensive clothes. This can only create a false sense of closeness, especially if the parent tries to make the child dress like them.
Instead, why not revel in this really super special time where our children are young, innocent and so much fun to be with? While a smart looking baby is always a delight, do remember that they have just this tiny window of time in which to dress as kids, for they have the rest of their lives to dress as adults. Because when else will it be perfectly acceptable to run around in a fluffy pink tutu while also sporting a Mickey Mouse hat with the giant ears? We’d rather let that happen now than, heaven forbid, watch them do this when they’re in their twenties, like some hipsters nowadays! |MB