Back To School Shopping: The Parent vs. Child Shopping Spree

Ready for Back To School Shopping?

Back to school shopping is often a pivotal point of the year for children. They see it as a chance to prepare for the upcoming school year — both academically and socially. Before you go to war over back to school wardrobes and supplies, there are some things you should consider…

School — You Think Academics, They Think Social Circles

When you think of back to school shopping, as a parent, you are likely imagining various writing utensils that are appropriate for your child’s age (anything from crayons to elaborate mechanical pencils), along with other school supply staples. Clothing is probably an afterthought, unless your child has completely outgrown his or her wardrobe.

Children, especially older children, often approach this thought process with the opposite shopping emphasis — the search for the perfect clothing is more important than the quest for school supplies. In fact, many a teen would be happy to go to school without a single supply in their bags if it meant having the coolest wardrobe the town has ever seen.

The battle between parent and child over the back to school shopping trip is a time-tested rite of passage that occurs annually. As a parent, you walk into the store with the school’s supply list in hand, mentally tallying the cost of the binders, paper and graphic calculator. You pour over advertisements to find the best deal on big-ticket items.

Your children, on the other hand, watch the television advertisements touting the latest trends in fashion and the importance of the outfit worn on the first day of school.

Balance The Proverbial Scales

It is your job, as a parent, to find a balance between the two. While you may consider the supplies to be the most important purchase, your child is equally concerned about their social image. That focus is normal and should not be ignored.

Make sure that you get the required supplies, but also let your child ponder the variety of options for mix-and-match outfits. Unless the clothing they choose is completely unacceptable to you, allow them to pick items that they consider to be trendy. Avoid imposing your opinion, because, while they may agree for the sake of placating you, they are much more likely to wear clothes that they have chosen themselves.

And whatever the end result, try to stick to a budget. Children will inevitably want more and more and more, and you need to be able to set limits. Remember, you will be doing this every year for twelve (or more) years. If you don’t want to sweat the back to school shopping bill each fall, make sure you set limits from day one.