Dress To Express
by Linda Potgieter
Are you one of those Moms who lets her kids dress just how they want, or are you the type who controls what they wear, down to the last detail?
As a home-schooling Mom and business owner, I believe that we are surrounded by powerful tools and vehicles that help us raise good, confident children and bring balance to our work and home life. Fashion is one of those vehicles.
Take a minute to think about the things that you love – maybe you play a musical instrument, maybe you blog or maybe you enjoy pottery, running or yoga. Or maybe you like order and structure, a place for everything and everything in its place. The straight lines and precise angles, they carry your personality. Those things that you love are all forms of art – an extension of you, an expression of you.
Personal style is the same. It is art and creativity, a form of expression – it is actually 2 birds with one stone, clothing the body and creating art! And when we let our kids dress themselves, sometimes they start small with simple, neat ensembles. Other times wardrobes explode onto their little bodies through their neon yellow socks, that brown jumper and the ballerina tutu all in 1 go!
Whatever it looks like, I want to encourage you to let your kids dress themselves. Yes, there are those family events and weddings where they need to compromise and dress for the occasion. But even then you can include them in the decision making process. Let them experience decision making from a young age.
Dressing up is such a key part of our everyday lives and regardless of your personal shopping and dressing habits, you can put the tool of fashion to work for you and your kids in your home. Fashion is a fun vehicle and a powerful communication tool.
When you let your children dress themselves, you are making space for them to be creative. It’s not all about arts and crafts on paper. Giving your child ownership of her wardrobe can help her to become trustworthy and organized, being faithful by taking care of her valuables. Clothes cost money, therefore the clothes are valuable. And when you give your child freedom to dress to express, you will be surprised what comes out of their little minds and hearts in the form of fashion!
But apart from art, using fashion as a communication tool helps you to raise a confident child. In a world that is fraught with dodgy moral messages while our kids grow up online, we need to help them more than ever before how to confidently and successfully connect with others.
I remember having a key conversation with my son when he was 5. He was adamant about wearing the same T-shirt and same shorts to a birthday party that he saw the other boys wearing. This was such valuable insight into his little mind. The world teaches that different is wrong. Then we spend our whole lives trying to fit in…but into what? It’s all an illusion. It was from that day that I became very intentional about using fashion as a confidence builder in my little boy’s life.
I sat down and spoke with him about how uniquely and wonderfully he was made. I reminded him that nobody else on the planet shares his DNA, not even Mom or Dad. I started asking him what he likes most, from football to Lego to watching the stars. And I brought clothing in as a way for him to say something without opening his mouth. He was fascinated with the concept! One morning he walked into the kitchen dressed in bright colours head to toe and said “Mom what am I saying?!” with a big smile on his face! I said “Are you feeling bright and cheerful?” and he grinned ear to ear while nodding his head. The next day he walked in wearing whites and pastels and asked me the same question. I guessed that he was feeling quiet and thoughtful. He was thrilled with my response!
That was 6 years ago. My now 11 year old who once had a meltdown about looking different to the other kids takes pride in standing out, and “saying something” without opening his mouth. It gave him a boost of confidence. It gave him a new avenue of expression. And it brought us closer, through something as simple as clothing. But the simple things in our homes can be powerful tools if we just stop and think about their purpose beyond their utility value.
Be that Mom who lets her kid dress to express! Because it has been my experience that dressing to express leads to dressing for success!
Linda is a wife and mother, and Partner & Director of JPA Ltd, a global negotiation training firm headquartered in London. She is also Founder of LindaPaige, a fashion brand that empowers women to be a bold light on a hill in this world. Born and raised in South Africa, she currently lives in the UK with her husband and 2 children.
Linda started working at age 17 and spent most of her career in the corporate arena, often the youngest on the team enjoying powerful on the job training, learning from ambitious, accomplished executives what the marketplace wants.
Linda had the immense privilege of serving on former President Nelson Mandela’s PR team in 1998. As the final member of a team of 5, Linda and her colleagues organized the Vulindlela Water Supply Scheme in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, on Human Rights Day in March 1998. Awarded along with her team members for her performance in this role, she cites this experience as one of her distinct career highlights, referencing Nelson Mandela as her leadership standard in life, and continues her involvement today in fighting oppression and injustice.
After relocating to the UK in 2002, Linda won a national sales award in January 2006 from the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (UK) (ISMM) for ‘Best New Sales Professional in Britain’. She is passionate about sales and loves working with people, a combination that opened up fantastic career opportunities for her across geographical and cultural boundaries, working on negotiation training projects with some of the worlds largest brands such as Adidas, Network Rail, EON, Mercer, Nestle, Pfizer, Nokia, and Vodafone. Her clients cite her training style as “…highly motivational, passionate and performance impacting”.
Linda is extremely dedicated to her own personal growth and attends regular leadership training in the USA which she cites as life-changing. On a personal note, she is an adrenaline junkie continuing her pursuit of the next thrill in adventure sports, she loves travelling the world exploring good food, good wine and when there are gaps, she is home socializing with her family and friends.