It’s not just for Halloween! Dress-up play is fun every day
Who doesn’t love Halloween? The kids love the opportunity to play at being a superhero, a princess, or a spooky monster for an evening (not to mention trawling for sugar), and we love how adorable they look in their costumes. The tradition of Halloween dress-up is fun for all ages, and the historical roots of the practice are also fun to explore; according to Wikipedia:
“It was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for the dead to gain vengeance on their enemies before moving to the next world. In order to avoid being recognised by any soul that might be seeking such vengeance, people would don masks or costumes to disguise their identities.”
Costume trends have changed over the course of our lifetime, with adults often adopting the more traditional “scary” costumes while kids want to be their favorite cartoon characters. I think this probably relates to the ubiquity of licensed characters in their lives today (more so even than when we were kids), but it also relates to the benefits and appeal of everyday dress-up for kids: the roles they choose are often specific to their emotional needs.
For a closer look, let’s turn to the ultimate expert on kids and their feelings: Mr. Rogers! Hedda Sharapan, Director of Early Childhood Initiatives at the Fred Rogers Company, writes:
“When children dress up in costumes as grownups or other powerful characters, they’re playing about being in charge. While children often argue about wanting to be in charge, they don’t really want to be in charge because that might be too scary for them. But it does help them to feel powerful some of the time, like in their play, where they can be in charge, without the responsibility.”
It’s not hard to see where this relates to kids wanting to pretend to be Batman – there’s no one who’s more in charge than the Dark Knight! Pretending to be a fire chief, a police officer, or a rock star also lets kids try on the same powerful adult role in a safe and fun way. Pretending to be a doctor is a good way to temporarily reverse that power relation for kids who find going to the doctor a little scary, and pretending to be a pirate is a good way to add a little harmless mischief to that power-play.
Dress-up play also engages abstract thinking skills, helps kids express and master their feelings, and helps kids develop self-regulation. Every costume, from the realistic to the fantastic, offers kids a unique way to play, and to learn, too.
So while our selection of costumes for kids is great for your Halloween shopping, don’t make it a once-a-year occasion! A cape, a mask, a hat or an eyepatch can all open up new imaginary worlds that kids will be eager to enter.
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