How can you present a true, clear message about who you are, both at home and at work? Personal Style Coach Allison Hamilton-Rohe reveals her formula during a guest appearance on my Internet radio show, “Turn the Page”

Our dialogue about launching you on your style journey continued after the show, when Allison offered an example of powerful personal style: “Look at the amazing Duchess of Windsor, whose husband literally gave up his kingdom and chose exile over life without her. While she was not a “classic” beauty, her charisma and appeal were undeniable — especially for her King!” This is one of the ways that personal style is distinct from fashion. The common personal style thread across your lifetime is YOU, what flatters and matters to you most, what you aspire to be and do.

Once you experience how the language of style can move you past image anxiety and into a more fulfilling reality, you’ll appreciate the benefits of discovering it earlier in life. Hopefully, this will motivate you to pass the learning onto younger generations, including your children and grandchildren.

Allison references Carol Dweck’s book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” in identifying ways you can support your child in achieving a positive self-image. Dr. Dweck’s research indicates that 40% of your happiness is a product of how you see yourself, and the corresponding choices you make.

As a parent or guardian, how can you help your youngster to look and feel good? These are strategies that Allison’s own kids have embraced:

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.
The number one thing you want to encourage, instill and empower your children to feel towards themselves, their bodies AND their style is love. You can do this any number of ways!

GIVE CONFIDENCE-BOOSTING COMPLIMENTS.
Dr. Dweck suggests offering process rather than person praise. This involves acknowledging repeatable behaviors that can reinforce a praiseworthy character trait, skill, action, or outcome. For example, rather than saying “you look pretty,” be specific about what you appreciate: “I love how those barrettes bring out the sky blue color of your eyes.”  A statement like this encourages your child to feel proud about doing something well. In contrast, “person praise” can create self-doubt when something goes awry, like the physical changes and emotional reactions that might occur at the onset of puberty!

INSIST ON LOVE.
When you’re shopping with your children or going through their wardrobes, only buy/keep things they love.  If they need a new coat, find a coat they love.  If you have a sense of their style and size, shop online with them.  You might select a few items and then ask them to look at the order before making the purchase. Ask them one question only: “Do you love what I’ve picked out for you?” If they say no, delete it. No exceptions. This sets a precedent that style is something that feels good and they can enjoy.

MAINTAIN STANDARDS.
It’s okay to insist that your children brush their hair and teeth, clean their bodies, and wear clothes that aren’t ripped. This is basic grooming. It’s important to teach your children these habits early on so they’re prepared when the time comes for them to “dress to impress.” It may take energy and patience, and consistent practice works.

Allison shares a personal illustration: “I posted a picture checklist by my kids’ door that I ask them to check everyday. They receive a star each time they complete their list. When they master a skill, I give them a bonus and we celebrate. Now, if I notice they forgot to brush their hair, all I have to say is, “Checklist?” and they go, “Oh!  Whoops!” and run back upstairs.” This tactic can be adapted to the specifics of your household. If you have a special needs child, creating a visual map of the checklist and breaking down tasks can be helpful. Teaching basic self-care is deeply important to preparing a child to be an independent adult.

ALLOW FOR PLAY.
If you’re dressing up for a party and your child is dying to wear a dress that’s a bit over-the-top, or put on lipstick, don’t sweat it.  If your kid puts on a shirt and pants that don’t match well and he’s three, let it go! If your son wears pink or your daughter wears combat boots, offer the freedom of experimentation. Allison reflects on rejoicing in her daughter’s self-expression: “I bought my daughter a button that read, “I dressed myself today. I loved posting her wacky outfits on Facebook.” Style can be fun and it allows kids to play with who they want to be. Allow your kids to enjoy it!

ENCOURAGE SELF-EXPRESSION.
Your kid is going to be who she is. If you do your job well, she’ll value her unique qualities and use them to propel her purpose in the world. If your kids settle into a style that unsettles you, have a conversation about the power of style and what it means for first impressions.  Allow your children to be in control of the message, and check in to ensure it’s the message they truly want to send. If not, work with them to change it. If your son loves his style and it STILL unsettles you, enlist a family therapist to address the underlying issues both for you and your child.

Identifying with any of these strategies as ones you’d like to adopt for yourself? Go for it!  Your example is the best guide for your children. If you’re kind to yourself, insist on love, maintain standards, allow yourself to play, and encourage your own self-expression through style, they will, too!

If you need expert guidance along the way, contact Allison through www.dailyoutfit.com. Mention this blog in booking a session on the “Work With Me” page of her site, and read on through her free newsletter and blog posts, including this one on “back-to-school” shopping sprees: http://www.dailyoutfit.com/2014/08/top-10-tips-to-make-back-to-school.html

If you haven’t yet listened to Allison’s guest appearance on my show, we invite you to learn about the three key components of her personal style formula. Find out how personal style can work for you


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