Halloween Pretend Play: Kids Plus Costumes = Cosplay aka Dress-Up

Kids have been enjoying dress up and costume play (cosplay) for generations but Halloween pretend play is certainly special. Everyone else plays too!

Children Trick-or-treating

While cosplay generally means putting on the costume as well as the words and actions of a specific character, kids add their own interpretations. A costume, or any dress-up play, invites explorations. Kids are exploring different ways of behaving and interacting.

If we look at the word from a child’s perspective, they see many different people from the outside. They can only guess what that feels like on the inside. So kids try-on the character of the boss, the bad guy, the rescuer, the leader, the worker, the store clerk, the superhero, the sports player, and others each time they try on a costume. Many times, they don’t even need the costumes. They can do all this with imagination.

Although pretend and imaginative play doesn’t need props, dressing up is a sort of permission. Kids know they are people, not cats or dogs, but ears and a tail mean they can try and eat off a dish on the floor. Normally, kids know if they ask adults if they can do this we’d say no, but they explain they are pretending to be a kitty or puppy and what happens? There’s a good chance we say yes. Would we let kids growl at us and order us around? Not usually, but if they are a lion or a pirate, we play along. No doubt about it, imaginative play is pretty powerful.

Pretend play starts about the age of two and becomes increasingly more complex. It’s a vital part of children’s development, creating new brain connections and understandings. On a mental level, problem-solving, creativity, organizing, comparing, and other thinking skills are involved. There’s an emotional aspect, too. Have you heard the expression about not judging others until we have walked a mile in their shoes? When kids dress-up they are trying to do just that. This is part of empathy, of feeling how others might feel. Physically, brains and bodies are so linked that imagining an action creates a response in the body.

Halloween pretend costume play

Halloween pretend play will happen long before and long after Halloween. And not just for kids. Will you dress up too?

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