With Halloween rapidly approaching parents are frantically try to fulfill their child’s costume desire and everyone is asking every child, “So what do you want to be this Halloween?”

Kids LOVE Halloween. Besides all the candy, Halloween is the day they get to be who they want to be.

Of course, this is not the only time over their life span when they will be asked this question. “What do you want to be…when you grow up?” or “What do you plan do to after school?” are variations on the same theme. But Halloween is different because it holds none of the restrictions of those future variations of the question.  Halloween is all wish fulfillment, fantasy and imagination.

Can we learn anything from those early costume choices? What does it say about the child who wishes to be a princess or a fireman or a monster?

Disney Princesses are big, especially with the preschool set. If you ask a preschooler, WHY?” she may say, “She is so pretty.” And collective groans may be heard from all the moms who want to raise strong, independent girls. These young choices are more reflective of good marketing than individual choice. This phase will pass.

This year a line of Strong Women costumes was introduced; I saw grade schoolers modeling Freida Kahlo, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and the unfortunate choice of an (now pulled from store shelves) Anne Frank costume.  This are outfits MOMS want. No five-year-old wants to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg when the Belle Ballgown awaits.

Boys are not immune from the desire to be a movie characters; they may want to be a ninja turtle or spiderman. Some want to be monsters or wild animals.

After what seems like years of suffering through watching your child’s costume reflect Disney’s top hit movie, you have given up trying to make the case that Golda Meir or Jonas Salk costumes have more substance than, say, Elsa or Blue Ranger. However, this year your sweet child shifts gears and informs you that she wants to be a pirate.

A pirate? You groan, “If not Hillary Clinton then at least, why not Hermione from Harry Potter?”

Before you panic and envision a life of looting and lawlessness, ask yourself, “What personality traits does this character have that my child may desire?” For example, a seven-year-old boy who is teased for being shorter than his classmates, may want to dress as a caveman, resplendent to a club (Hopefully a Nerf club) In character he uses his new adopted persona to slug the kids who are picking on him. Or that little girl, who works so hard to be “perfect” in school, as a pirate she gets to be a bit of a bad ass. Oh, and the child who is always impeccably dressed who wants to be a hobo with soot all over their face?

No need to start googling child therapists, or even worse try to have a heart to heart with your child about wardrobe choices, just observe and consider this; no matter what you child grows up “to be” s/he will always dress a bit for the part. After all, we all do it-before a job interview or important meeting we buy a “power suit” or if we are going to a reunion or special event, we shop for something that makes us feel…Gorgeous? Young? Successful? Thin? Strong? Intimidating? Most of us have learned to use clothes to empower, protect, hide, or flaunt something about ourselves.

The time of dressing your sweet baby up as a pea pod or carrot or bunny is gone. As children grow they will begin to discover who they are and how they feel about themselves. The Halloween costume they choose, gives them a day where they get to be anything they want. Don’t be shocked at how drastically the choices change from year to year. Throughout our life span, we are constantly growing and evolving and discovering. How we manage our feelings of self-doubt and insecurity is part of resilience, Sometimes, the right outfit can help foster our sense of confidence. Let their little freak flags fly and enjoy.

 

© 2017/ Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986. She frequently dresses up as a therapist.

She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce, now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.

 

 

 

Women in Transition: Dealing with the Holidays

Every major life event, whether joyful or sad, brings on a period of transition as we adjust to the “new normal.” Even though these periods of transition occur throughout our lives, each requires us to discover a new and unique path as we struggle to move through uncharted waters. The death of a loved one, […]

First Love

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call telling me that my first boyfriend had passed away. While we had not seen each other in many years, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. “How could this be?” I thought, as I worked my way through a box of tissues trying to figure out why I […]

The Thanksgiving Elephant

Over the years, I have written many blogs about the stresses of holidays. Divorce, illness, a death, and unemployment are some of the issues that can cast a terrible pall over the holiday get togethers. Personal issues such as concerns about over-indulging in spending, eating, drinking may add to the stress many face when attending […]