Halloween is just weeks away. Has your child declared “I want to be INSERT CHARACTER HERE for Halloween!” We’ve come so far from the holiday’s origins of dressing in scary costumes to ward off the evil spirits. Since Halloween has become such a commercialized holiday, there are more and more costumes that come out of a package, that represent a character from a show or movie. As a parent and longtime educator, I have been witness to over 20 Halloweens at two different schools and have been trick-or-treating in several different neighborhoods. Needless to say, I’ve noticed some things.
One of my proudest parenting moments was when our family dressed as characters from Peter Pan. My Kindergarten son was Peter Pan, my infant daughter was Captain Hook, and their parents dressed as TinkerBell and Smee. I made the Peter Pan costume from scratch! I am not a sewer. The costume looked fantastic in the morning and as the day wore on, the adornments were falling off and the seams were splitting. But that wasn’t the noticeable thing.
My son stood so joyfully and confidently, “crowing” all day! He became Peter Pan as he imagined him from hearing me read the story and from the Pop-Up Book we flipped through. The costume helped bring life to a deep, imaginative picture that did not yet have an outer manifestation. The expression delighted him.
So what happens when our children put on the costumes of characters they know from movies or television shows? Are we giving them the opportunity to live into the richness of their own imagination or are they living into the expectations they have of a static character? Does this really matter… am I overthinking this???
Each child is different and responds to costumes and character play so differently. It’s worth considering some questions before committing to a Halloween costume.
What might my child FEEL wearing this costume? I don’t mean feel in terms of whether the costume is too tight or itchy but what might it feel like to embody that character for the day or evening. If they are dressing like a monster, what might it feel like to act like a monster for the day? If they dress like a princess, how might others treat them that day?
How might my child ACT wearing this costume? Another costume my son wore when he was older was a blow-up costume that slips on over clothes and it looks like you’re riding a dinosaur. He spent the day running amok and knocking people over! He didn’t do that the day before or the day after. If your child is wearing a costume to school, will they be compelled to act like their costume character all day and how might that affect their school day?
How might my child ENGAGE in the costume process? One can buy a costume and wear it as is. One can make the whole thing from scratch or piece together things from home. But there are so many in-betweens. Is there an adornment that can be made or attached that adds a personal touch? Or an accessory that bring some pizzaz or uniqueness to that Spiderman costume?
There is so much potential to utilize a child’s imagination in developing a costume. It’s worth the time to enter that imaginative space with them and then dream up a creative strategy to bring that imagination into being. Trust me, it’s better than the blow-up dinosaur!
And don’t forget to share those pictures.