Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween and Self-Esteem

I would like to continue the conversation about developing a high self-esteem—believing in and valuing one’s self. Today’s examples will be about Halloween costuming, and how you can help develop your child’s belief in self. These examples are great for children in preschool through lower elementary, but I hope you will find what you need for your younger child.
I would like to suggest you open a conversation with your child about all the fun things one can pretend to be for Halloween a week or two before the costume is needed. Your child will be thinking about it and talking with friends at school. You might look through your closet or dad’s closet with your child to find articles of clothing that are no longer worn. Children love to try on clothes like this and perhaps hats, scarves, old shirts, etc., will appeal to your child, to modify with belts, glitter paints, or other accessories to achieve what your child (not you!) likes.
You might go to a second-hand store with your child and let her pick out just the right piece of clothing for very little money. It is akin to memories you may cherish of being at your grandmother’s house and being allowed to dress-up with some of her old clothes or grandpa’s old clothes. The best part of this activity is that it involves your child’s creativity. Your job is to facilitate, not to judge.
I’d like to share a personal story about a Halloween costume in our once young household to illustrate the point. It involved a week of layers of papier-mâché, followed by coats of paint and advice and comments from the elder sister and the younger brother. Seb, the creator of the dragon-head, paraded around our yard with the finished apparition as a huge, top-heavy hat after school on the 30th. It went on the school bus with him on the 31st. I heard later from his teacher that he put it on briefly when the children dressed in their costumes, but took it off for the traditional costume parade through the building. It was, of course, too big and heavy to wear.
If you understand that the process of creating the costume is far more important for the child than the finished product wearable for a brief moment in time, and you put that understanding into practice this Halloween and in other things you do with your child, then you are doing the very best you can to develop self-esteem. (addendum: Last year for Halloween, Seb’s oldest son was a garbage truck. As I understand, a great deal of masking tape was involved.)

Five little ghosts went out to play
In a haunted house one day
Mama Ghost said, “Boo, boo, boo”
Four little ghosts back home they flew.

(repeat four, three, two, one)

Mama Ghost said, “Boo, boo, boo”
No little ghosts back home they flew.
Papa Ghost said, “BOO, BOO, BOO”
Five little ghosts back home they flew.

(Tune: 5 Little Ducks)

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