By Desiree Rodrigues
It is that time of year again when we see fall leaves and pumpkin patches in every available lot, and stores are loaded with Halloween items. When you strip away the cultural meaning of Halloween, you are left with costumes and candy. For adults, Halloween has become a night where one can forget about their adult responsibilities and become a kid at heart again, but what significance does the holiday have on a child?
In an article written for the parenting website Red Tricycle, “The Fascinating Things Kids Who Like to Play Dress-Up Have in Common,” the story discussed a study that involved a group of 180 children. The children were separated into three groups, and each group was asked to work on a 10-minute task. If they got bored, however, they could play with an IPad. One out of the three groups was allowed to dress up as princesses or their favorite superheroes. It turned out that while overall, 63 percent of those ten minutes were spent on the IPad, the children in costumes worked on the task longer than the other two groups. The researchers concluded that the children in costume identified with their characters’ superhero traits, which motivated them to stay on task.
What can we learn from that study when it comes to preparing for Halloween? Costumes for a child are empowering. They can help a child recognize a superpower, otherwise known as a skill. Costumes can also give a child an opportunity to explore who they are or what they want to become when they become older. Trying on an outfit brings about a change in one’s attitude, so why wouldn’t a costume have the same effect? While I was researching this article, I searched the Internet for pictures of popular costumes for children. Among the Wonder Women and Captain America’s, I was pleased to see real-life icons that have influenced society, such as Amelia Earhart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Neal Armstrong.
I believe that as parents or those who are influential in a child’s life, we need to have a conversation with our young ones and find out what is important to them. If a child picks a fun and whimsy costume, run with that idea. If they choose a superhero, make sure to ask them, why they relate to the character or what do they feel makes them super?
If your child doesn’t have an idea of who they want to dress up as, this is your chance to find out who they want to be when they grow up or who they feel like they can relate to right now. The possibilities are endless, and this will allow their imagination to soar. This may be the only time that most children have the chance to dress up as someone different from them, so make the most of the opportunity and do not just pull the first costume off the shelf.
Costumes don’t have to break the bank –with a little thought and some time on Pinterest, you can come up with some creative ideas. The most important thing to remember is to make it a family affair and for your child to feel comfortable, mentally and physically.
Desiree Rodrigues, who has worked at Hillsides for eight years, is the program coordinator for the CalWORKs program at Hillsides. She is currently working on her degree in literature at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, and is looking forward to beginning California State University, Long Beach next fall.