Play Better: Fun Dress Up Costumes for Kids
Nothing stops a tantrum quicker than a fireman’s costume.
A robust costume box is a must-have addition to any playroom. Adding plenty of costumes is a great way to get kids interested in dramatic play, allow them to explore emotions and play in mixed-age or larger groups. Costumes are also incredibly versatile for their enjoyment factor across age groups. Young toddlers may get a lot out of trying to figure out how to put on different elements, while older kids can engage in complex dramatic play.
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Character-related costumes can be great places to jumpstart imaginative play. Your child already knows the storyline and has an idea of what they are “supposed” to do while in costume. But make it clear your child doesn’t have to stick to whatever narrative is in the script. Allow them to mix and match costume sets and go off script by playing the “what if” game. What would this character need if they were swimming underwater? What would this character need if they needed to rescue someone from a burning building? The point is to have your child comfortable creating their own storylines and trusting their imagination.
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Dressing up can also be a great way to break down stereotypes. The sparkly princess costumes can be attractive to boys; girls can be inspired by the daring deeds you can do while wearing a cape. Encourage exploration and discourage the idea that there are “boy” or “girl” dress up clothes. On the same note, some parents find the “princess narrative” to be problematic: they worry that by dressing as princesses, they are encouraging girls to be passive and look pretty, rather than taking the lead. Remind girls (and boys) that princesses can rescue princes, and that princes sometimes want to be reminded that they’re pretty. In other words, don’t discount the costume itself, but create a rich imaginative world where kids (and the characters they play) truly can be anything they want to be.
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Inflatable costumes can bring imaginative play to the next level. Operated with a built-in battery operated fan inside the costume, the costumes usually have a hole for your child’s head that comes to about mid-neck on the costume. Once inflated, these costumes can take up substantial space—especially if they include a tail—so these can be better used for outdoor play. Batteries will run out with continuous use, so make sure you have a spare pair if you’re planning on wearing an inflatable costume for a substantial amount of time. Even though inflation only takes several minutes, this may be too long for some wiggly kids, so best to save inflatable costumes for an event, rather than free-for-all playtime in the costume box.
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