Last week, I was delighted to serve as a style expert on the new Steve Harvey Show. The topic? Tween Fashion Emergencies. The producers canvassed the country and found three moms that were unhappy with the way their children were dressing. We had a tomboy, an overly exuberant pop princess and a Caucasian “rapper” from suburban Boston who could barely walk under the weight of his layered gold chain necklaces. As a mom, I know how easy it is to bruise a child’s ego. So, aside from creating a new look for the kids, I wanted to put an upbeat, creative dimension into the whole “makeover” The key, I told the parents, is to  put a positive spin on the conversation and create a life lesson from the experience.

Here are some of my pointers:

BE POSITIVE: Instead of beginning with a negative “you look awful! How can you walk around like that?” Start the conversation like this: “you are so beautiful/handsome. It is hard to see the real you under oversized clothing.”

TEACH A LIFE LESSON: “I love you. You are smart, cool, interesting. But, you are no longer a little kid. In life-now and for the rest of your life-what you wear reflects who you are and how you feel about yourself. It also reflects how the world perceives you. If you look slobby/unkempt, etc your teachers will perceive you as a lazy student.”

STATE THE FACTS: Comfortable≠ slobby. Comfort is often confused with baggy, non binding garments. There are plenty of garments (leggings, jeans, a dress, a jean skirt) that are comfortable and presentable. Also, Looking feminine and looking “girly” (read: frills, bows, ruffles) are two different things

CLEAN/PURGE your child’s closet with them. A lean mean wardrobe is more functional—purge out things no longer wearing

CHANNEL THEIR INNER FASHION EDITOR: If your kid is open to a new look, create an inspiration board with them. Tearsheet magazine and images of looks that they like (tv shows, celebrities, colors) Then, go shopping with them. It allows them to feel a measure of control and feel creative

CULTURE VULTURE: Pop Culture- has huge impact on kids. They are discovering who they are and what they relate to through music, tv and film .Inspiration is fine. But, monitor what they are watching.  It is important to reiterate that celebrities/actors/singers are entertainers. Part of their job is being dramatic. Real people do not dress like Lil Wayne or Christina Aguilera.