Finding a costume is fun when you know what to look for in kids dressup clothes
Autumn is synonymous with many things but especially with Halloween and all that it entails: costumes, parties, pumpkin carving, cider, apple bobbing, parades and trick or treat. Some parents are ho-hum about the Halloween hoopla but most kids love it and invest a lot of excitement and planning in a costume. What to look for in kids’ dressup clothing? That depends on the kid and what his or her particular fantasy is.
Of course, dressing up isn’t confined to Halloween. Children love playing dress up year round. Not only is it fun for them but it a powerful learning experience.
Dressing up as a pirate, ballerina or the perfect princess teaches a child all kinds of things. A child benefits from fantasy play because his imagination is cultivated. Children use figurative and abstract thinking when they don costumes and engage in make-believe games. For example, the dish towel becomes a super hero’s cape and pots and pans become drums.
Because costumes fuel imaginative play at every time of the year – not just Halloween – it is important to purchase costumes that will last through many play sessions.
Costumes that have flexible sizing and that fit easily over every-day clothing are especially versatile. Look for costumes that are simple to put on, with ties instead of complicated buttons, zippers or other fasteners. Velcro is child-friendly and adjustable through a few sizes.
Gender-neutral costumes are excellent to add to a “dressup box” and accessories can transform a basic costume into one that suits your child’s mood or fits into a play scenario that develops organically through negotiation with friends and evolution of a plot.
Color, texture and fantasy are all important ingredients in children’s costumes. A princess dress is wonderful in pink, but there is nothing wrong with adding the same one in green, blue and purple to the collection!
Costumes that can be washed are a wonderful find, as this adds to their longevity. Check labels when you are shopping. Many children will insist on going to the grocery store as Batman or the Little Mermaid, so it’s great to be able to keep dress up clothes fresh and ready for adventure.
Dressing up helps learning
When a child engages in fantasy play this strengthens his cognitive processing abilities because he is learning how to shift from the concrete world to one which is intangible and symbolic. This teaches him how to process ideas and consequences of actions before acting. Play-acting fortifies the executive function of the child’s brain.
When a child is encouraged to play make-believe he learns how to create things and process written stories that have been read to him by acting them out. He learned about the castle when his mother read the book to him and now he is building the castle out of pillows and a chair.
Additionally a child learns how to solve problems through this type of play which is called socio-dramatic play. He is playing with others, arranging roles, negotiating with the other kids and learning to see things through the perspective of others, which helps him develop empathy.
Dressing up in costumes and playing make-believe helps children process the big events in their lives, which can be stressful and overwhelming at times for a little kid. If a child can play act he can better grasp the situation he is facing. If a child is about to go to nursery school for the first time and is exhibiting signs of anxiety, let him dress up as the teacher, get him a chalkboard and other props a teacher would have. Be his student. Let him act out the scenario. This is considered play therapy. It helps a child process his thoughts and feelings.
The sky is the limit when it comes to children’s costumes and dress-up items. You can make them, buy them or create them out of items already in your closet. If a child dons her father’s black suit jacket and neck tie, this is a costume for her.
Boys love dressing up every bit as much as girls do. Don’t mistakenly assume girls have the monopoly on costume wearing. However, girls have long known the value and fun of putting on mom’s jewels and make-up and grandma’s hats but they also enjoy dressing up as cowboys and Indians. The outfit doesn’t always have to be feminine.
Talk to your child about what he would like to be for Halloween, although he may already be talking to you about it because he’s excited about the upcoming holiday.
Browse online costume sites to see what is available. If you are a seamstress with a really creative mind, whip up an outfit for your child and then buy the needed accessories.
Use a storage container for costume safe-keeping. Allow the child access to the outfits anytime he is in the mood to play make-believe. Heck, you can put one on yourself. You are never too old to play make-pretend!