Halloween is approaching and many children know what they want to be for Halloween. However, for some parents, it may be hard or worrisome to let your children go trick or treating or to school in the costume of their choice. For those with gender creative children, questions like “What will others think?” or “Will my children get bullied?” may arise when considering the costume of your children’s choice. However, like all of the viral social media posts featuring gender creative children expressing themselves has shown us — everything will be all right. For other parents, you may want your child to dress up in a family costume or a costume that you secretly wished you had been when you were a kid, and though your wishes are great, there’s definite reasons why you should sit back and let your kids be.
Here’s five reasons why you should let your children truly express themselves this Halloween:
1. Dressing up allows kids to figure out gender identities.
Dressing up isn’t just something that’s done on Halloween. Kids play dress up often, at home or at school. Dressing up allows kids to figure out their identities. For young girls who dress up “really girly” in princess costumes and tutus, sometimes it means they’re trying to figure out what it means to be “female,” but don’t worry parents, it’s not something that they may continue the rest of their lives. The same can be said for children who want to dress up for Halloween in costumes that are stereotypically associated with the opposite sex. Parenting.com had Jack Maypole a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center to explain that this is totally normal. It reads: “Before about age 4, children may be able to identify a picture of a person as either male or female, but they may think that if the subject changes clothing or hairstyle, he or she changes sex as well. Dress-up helps kids test out theories and arrive at the more mature understanding that clothes don’t make the man (or woman).”
2. Fosters their imagination.
By allowing your children to express themselves with their Halloween costume this year, you’re allowing your children to play pretend or foster their imagination. When a girl puts on a superhero costume and flies around — she’s gaining far more than you might imagine. For instance, when children use their imagination, research has shown that it improves cognitive behaviors like language use, emotional development, cognitive flexibility, and creativity. And who doesn’t want that for their children?
3. Strengthens their interests.
As a parent, you might also find that your children’s Halloween costume choice signifies something that they’re interested in. If your son wants to go as a baker, it might be because they’re interested in baking and that’s an activity you can help them grow after Halloween. If your daughter wants to go as a mad scientist — it’s not because she’s “mad.” She just might be interested in the idea of creating something new with the power of science.
4. May give your children a chance to stand on their own two feet.
For parents with gender creative children — boys who want to dress in “girly” things or girls who want to dress in “boy” costumes — Halloween can be a scary time for you. Your son wants to be Elsa and you can’t help but wonder if he’ll get teased at school. Your daughter wants to be Luke Skywalker and you think, “Will the other children accept that?” Yes, teasing may occur, but you may find that your kids can handle it a lot better than you think. Costumes empower us to be the identity that we take on. A costume that the child picks may make them feel stronger, prettier, or even more confident than they have before. Yes, teasing may occur, but by expressing themselves in the Halloween costume of their choice, your children might have a chance to stand on their own two feet, stop the teasing, and show other children that their choices, their interests, and their Halloween costumes are great. If you’re worried, it might be wise to speak to your kids beforehand, in such a way as not to deter them from their costume, but to remind them that their costume can give them the strength to stand up for themselves and others this Halloween.
5. Simply put, it’ll make them happy.
In the scheme of things this Halloween, we must always remember — it’s Halloween. It’s a day of dressing up, taking a new identity, and having fun. It’s easy to see when a child isn’t happy with something, and letting them express themselves this Halloween will, simply put, make them happy and that’s a wish that every parent has for their kids.