WASHOE COUNTY, NV - If you took your child back-to-school shopping recently, you know the stress that comes with kids trying to pick out what clothes to wear. Trying to figure out what's hip and what's not can take a toll on a kid's self-esteem. Some would argue that schools that have uniforms can help with that. Dietitian and eating disorder specialist Lorraine Platka-Bird says there are pros and cons to schools with uniforms and schools without.
"Kids, teenagers, can often be critical of each other's appearance and the uniforms take away that kind of pressure," she says.
About a third of the schools in Washoe County have uniforms. Prim Walters, Principal at Sun Valley Elementary, says many of the families at her school are big supporters of uniforms.
"The parents here at Sun Valley love having the uniforms. It just makes it easier and inexpensive for them. We look like a team and a community," she says.
While kids with uniforms don't have to worry about what to wear everyday, it's possible they might get tired of wearing the same clothes all the time.
"It can take away that individuality. The clothes they wear are an opportunity to express themselves and how they are different from the other kids," says Platka-Bird.
That's why Sun Valley Elementary has free dress days each month to give students a break. Yet, kids may get teased for trying to stand out. At Stead Elementary School where there are no uniforms, Principal Yuen Fong says students are taught how to deal with these kinds of scenarios.
"We feel that providing kids with strategies and skills on how to deal with inappropriate behavior is a better method of helping our students out. So when they're out in the real world, they're able to use those skills and strategies," he says.
Regardless of whether your child wears a uniform or not, the best thing you can do is let them be themselves and not be overly critical.
"There should be less focus on physical appearance, more focus on who they are as a person, what they have to offer and the things you appreciate about them," says Platka-Bird.