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  • Costumes in Role Playing & Child Development

    In one parenting book, I read about a Mum’s question about her child wearing costumes all the time, and acting like her costume.  If she had a puppy costume on, she would only answer when called, ‘Puppy.’

    The Psychologist answered that children normally go through a ‘costume phase’ between ages 3 to 6.  They use their imagination to create stories with them as different characters, like a superhero or an animal. 

    Costumes are not just dress-up outfits children can wear during kid’s parties or Halloween.  In our household, costumes are also used as teaching aids, and wearing it is greatly encouraged.

    WHAT ARE COSTUMES?  In my opinion, it is any clothing or prop worn by the child to emulate characters not her own, like Superheroes or animals or movie personalities.  It can be a bat cape or butterfly wings or a platinum blonde wig.

    HOW ARE THESE COSTUMES USED BY CHILDREN?  In most cases, they just like to go around wearing it while doing ordinary, usual stuff, like eating dinner or watching TV.  In other instances, there may be a pretend play that she is a Princess being saved by the Super Mario Brothers or with her ladybird wings, flying fleetingly around the garden.  In the case of the questioning Mom, her child not only used costumes, but believes she is it and thus acts like it. 

    HOW CAN USE OF COSTUMES BENEFIT OUR CHILDREN?

    Aside from children’s parties and Halloween, costumes may also be used as:

    1. Prop to develop the self-esteem of  the child.  Any girl child wants to dress up as Princess, and feels most beautiful when wearing a crown.  Every little boy wants to be regarded as strong and helpful, and he is unequivocally such when wearing his Superman cape.
    2. Tool for memory aid. When a story is told with costumes, the child remembers it better.  In our neighborhood during summer, we have a play of classic children’s stories.  Red Riding Hood is best remembered because of the red cape that was worn.
    3. Tool for imaginative play. Listen to your child’s monologue while he is dressed as a pirate.  He likes to pretend he is looking for a treasure.  It is also a great way to improve his communication and language skills.
    4. Tool to improve social skills. Put two boys together for the first time and they may not immediately get along.  Put them both in costumes and they will instantly play out their characters.  Costumes also teach children about sharing of props and negotiating on taking turns.
    5. Tool to teach child about reality vs. play. Just because he has a cape on does not mean he can fly.  Don’t wait for your child to jump out of the window to learn that reality the hard way.  When she has her butterfly wings on, ask her, ‘you have wings, but can you fly?  Are you a real butterfly?’  Teach her that it is okay to pretend, but it is only for play.
    6. Tool to teach child good vs. evil. When your little girl prefers to be the evil stepmother and not Snow White, are you supposed to stop her?  I actually think not.  But again, remind her that it is just role play, and remind her, too, that in the story, the good always wins.  Emphasize the need to do good and not evil.

    Don’t forget, Mommy, to always be around to supervise your child during play so you can guide him and to make sure he is safe. 

    Costumes are more than just fun play.  They are great for our child’s well-being and development.  They make stylish and unique gifts, too.  So give one now and spread the joy!

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