Halloween is coming, and I bet if you have young children, you’ve heard about what they want to be for the holiday. Back in September, I had already been told by multiple students what they were planning to dress up as. As a fellow lover of Halloween, I appreciate the chance to discuss costume ideas with fellow enthusiasts. However, being an adult and early childhood educator, I recognize that there can be pressure that parents feel about their child’s costume, such as getting that perfect Halloween photo while also respecting your child’s comfort. It can also be tricky to get their outfit ready for October 31st due to limited time, budget considerations and possibly a child’s indecision on what they want. I’ve compiled a few considerations to think about when preparing for All Hallows’ Eve to hopefully make it a bit easier.
Comfort is important, especially for very young children who are still working on how to control and move their own bodies. A cumbersome costume can be physically exhausting and add to a day that is already often overwhelming. Consider choosing a costume that is as similar to your child’s normal clothing. Wear a costume that feels just like a regular outfit, like the Charlie Brown costume pictured above or add a loose fitting accessory to their outfit that can easily be removed. The soft, light weight gnome hat and beard above is a perfect example!
Let’s face it, some costumes are difficult to put on and take off, making bathroom breaks complicated. Think about making or buying a costume that is made up of a top and bottom, and possibly a couple of items that can be easily taken off. Plus, if the costume is made out of leggings or sweats they can be reused throughout the year!
Young children are natural classifiers, sorters and organizers. They are constantly absorbing information from adults, peers, media and more about people and their role in their world. Keep in mind that even though Halloween is a lighthearted holiday, it’s important to be careful when choosing costumes that reflect other cultures and ethnicities. Though well-intentioned, we sometimes don’t recognize the meaning behind some age-old costumes. For example, wearing a Native American headdress as a costume is often regarded as disrespectful because of their ceremonial nature. If your child asks to dress up in a costume that you find culturally insensitive, use it as an opportunity to discuss why they wish to dress like that. Spend time to learn about the culture together, which will foster appreciation and respect.
Several years ago I heard a four-year-old boy say, “Girls can’t be Superman!” Again, young children innately categorize as they learn new information, including concepts about gender. While it’s natural for children to think “only boys do X and girls do Y”, it’s important to counter these notions so that children don’t grow up thinking there are limitations to what they or others can do based on gender. When I heard the comment about Superman, I asked the child why he felt this way. He replied that Superman is a boy, so only boys could be him. We talked about how even boys who dress up as Superman for Halloween are only pretending to be him, so girls can pretend to be him as well. We can all pretend to be anything we can imagine. We also talked about the reasons Superman is a hero and agreed that both girls and boys can perform heroic acts.
Sticking to One Costume
Halloween only comes once a year, so it can be difficult for a child to choose a costume and stick to it. This can be frustrating for parents to buy or make a costume for fear their child will change their mind again. One way to combat this is to pick a date by when your child will need to decide by. After that, if they come up with other ideas, add it to a Halloween Costume Ideas list. They can add as many ideas as they’d like and can look back at it next year. Full disclosure, I have one of these on my phone for myself! Another option is to combine two ideas into one. For example, the child above wanted to be both a skeleton and a witch – so her parents combined both into one costume!
Want more ideas of how to celebrate Halloween in a meaningful way with young children? See our Halloween Pinterest board!