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Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist and founding partner with The Heller Psychology Group LLC, which is a small private practice located in Bethesda, Maryland near Montgomery Mall. He specializes in working with children, adolescents, and their families. Dr. Heller conducts play, individual, and family psychotherapy for a variety... Read more

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Dr. Carey Heller: clinical psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

Handling Teen Fashion Must Haves

Dr. Carey Heller: clinical psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Carey Heller: clinical psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

Wanting the latest shoes, hats, jackets, and other apparel is nothing new to most parents. No matter what decades you grew up in, there was likely certain items that you wanted because they were in style and your friends had them. Two main issues in appeasing teens today is being able to afford everything they desire and setting limits to prevent them from becoming too entitled and not understanding the value of money.

Therefore, while there are probably many different views on handling teens wanting specific apparel, here are a few thoughts to help guide you as you handle these types of issues with your teen.

1)      When it comes time for your teen to purchase clothing for a specific season, set a realistic budget for what they can spend on each type of item (i.e., hat, shoes, pants, jackets, etc.), but give them freedom within reason to choose how to spend that money. For instance, if you give them 200 dollars to spend on jeans, they could likely buy one to two pairs of expensive designer jeans or four to five pairs of less expensive jeans. They’ll likely face this type of dilemma as an adult, so it’s important to give them some independence as a teen to make their own choices regarding clothing purchases.

2)      If you are giving them a set budget for clothing, determine how you will handle it if they come to you in a month or two and say they need additional pants, shirts, etc. Helping teens stick to a budget is less effective if you let them buy expensive clothing and then keep giving them extra money because they didn’t buy enough clothes initially. Help them to make good choices, and of course don’t let them go without necessities, but figuring out ahead of time and making clear to your teen what the procedure is if they need more money for clothing later on is important.

3)      Let your teen pick between expensive items they desire.  For instance, if they want an expensive fleece jacket and a pair of expensive boots, perhaps let them get one of those items now and wait until a special occasion (i.e., birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas) to get the other one.

4)      For teens who struggle with low self-esteem, bullying, etc., having the latest fashion trends can sometimes help them to feel better and in some cases minimize bullying if the bullying is related to their clothing choices. However, it’s always important to set certain limits regarding how many items and how much money can be spent on expensive fashion apparel because if a teen keeps getting absolutely everything they want, it can make it much harder for them as an adult to learn to budget appropriately for apparel.

Determining how much to let teens spend on apparel, even if you can easily afford to let them spend a lot of money, is difficult. Not teaching your teen to regulate how much they spend on apparel now can make it much harder for them as an adult when they have to make those choices themselves. Therefore, even if you let teens spend a lot of money on apparel, it’s important to put some regulations in place, while also allowing freedom for teens to make their own choices regarding apparel purchases.

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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship,  and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*

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Carey Heller, Psy.D.

About Carey Heller, Psy.D.

Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist with The Heller Psychology Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. He works with children, adolescents, and young adults, providing psychological/psychoeducational evaluations and individual psychotherapy. Dr. Heller specializes in ADHD, executive functioning issues, and Autism Spectrum Disorder and is happy to answer questions and provide consultations for individuals who are considering pursuing treatment or an evaluation for their child, adolescent, or themselves. Dr. Heller can be reached directly at 301.385.2610 or For appointments, please call the office at (301) 385-2610 or email The Heller Psychology Group at with your contact information and availability for appointment times.


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