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How to support a role-model, career based Halloween costume

Susan Bartell
Halloween is one of the most exciting days of a child’s year. It’s hard to beat a huge pile of candy, but for most young children the real attraction is an opportunity to dress up in a costume. Preschool and elementary kids love to pretend to be someone else because it empowers them to challenge the boundaries of childhood and express themselves in a way that is not ususally possible in everyday life. Very often, children choose costumes that represent a current and trendy ‘hero’—usually a character they admire from a movie or TV show. They hope that by dressing up they will feel the strength, leadership, and inspirational traits that they admire in this fictional character.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could encourage your child to find that same sense of satisfaction, heroism and excitement in a costume that has the ability to inspire in a real-life and not in a fictional way? Well guess what? You actually can!

Halloween represents an opportunity for adults to encourage kids to dress up in a way that teaches them about real possibilities and aspirations. For example, dressing up as a doctor, like VTech’s Flipsie™ doll Carina, encourages thoughts about the possibility of some day working in a ‘helping’ field. Carina is patient, optimistic, smart, passionate and ambitious about her career. Her dream is becoming a doctor because she loves to help others which is a great way for kids to think about their dreams. Excellence doesn’t have to mean fame, it can mean a sense of mastery and fulfillment, which are important life goals for everyone. The trick is to be able to encourage your child to break away from TV and movie-inspired costumes and move towards those inspired by real-life possibilities.

It’s important to allow costumes that have a positive message. For young kids, this means disallowing costumes that may reflect violence or fear. A good rule of thumb is that any costume that might offend or scare even one person is not allowed. You should also set clear limits on costumes for girls that are too short, small or tight. Your rules should be firm regardless of what other parents allow.

The next step is to discuss possible costumes with your child. Kids don’t always think beyond the obvious, so if everyone is talking about one particular costume then your child is likely to jump on board as well. If you offer other options you might find that your your child is willing to explore these. Your suggestions should include costumes that represent real-life heroes like a veterinarian who saved a pet’s life (similar to VTech’s Flipsie™ doll Eva), a teacher who encourages students to read (like VTech’s Flipsie™ doll Lexi) or a firefighter who rescues people. You can make these costumes even more relevant to your child if you can point to actual people they know who embody these heroic traits.

Discussions with your child about potential costumes offers an opportunity to talk about many admirable qualities to which they can aspire not only as adults but even as they grow up. Your child may ultimately choose a (parent approved) less-inspired costume but there is still great value to these conversations about costumes that represent real-life leadership, hard work and bravery, skills. Perhaps you can convince your child to compromise as they wear your pick to school and their choice for trick-or-treating. Whatever their choice is make sure they have fun while celebrating the day. Happy Halloween!
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