Let’s face it- Halloween has come a long way from the days when a sheet with eye-holes counted as a legitimate costume. The more that the holiday has become an adult celebration– what bar now doesn’t host a costume contest?– the more that the edgy, “grown-up” aspects of it trickle down to the tween and tot set.
Girls that are barely out of kindergarten are sporting fishnet stockings and red velvet devil horns, while boys who just graduated from Thomas the Train are going for gore, gore, and more gore. The popularity of provocative children’s costumes is at an all-time high, and as long as money’s being made, it will keep getting worse. How’s a Mom to deal?
Do a Reality Check
You’re the parent here, and it’s both your right and your responsibility to draw the line where you see fit. It’s easy to get blindsided by hectic schedules and wanting to be the “fun” Mom, and then before you know it you’re putting something totally inappropriate in your shopping cart as you dash out to fight the crowds a few nights before Halloween. Take a step back– and think twice.
Talk to Your Child
So your daughter’s begging for a costume that would make her grandmother blush, or your son is gung-ho to masquerade as a mass murderer. Ask them what the appeal is, and get them to talk about it. It may be that they’re trying to emulate something problematic– in which case that discussion can be the start of working to nip it in the bud. Or, it could be they simply like the color or some other superficial aspect of the costume, in which case you can rush to find an appropriate substitute.
Get Back to Basics
So much of the pressure that leads to hasty decisions might stem from your own heightened expectations. The simple joys of dressing up as virtually anything and staying up a bit late– not to mention gorging on an inordinate amount of candy– are enough to make any child giddy; it doesn’t have to be a huge production. Let kids be kids, and rest assured that even if their costume is simple and run-of-the-mill, it can still be a magical night.
Draw the Line
An edgy costume might not seem like a big deal, and you might not feel like dealing with a tantrum. But research shows that the increasing sexualization of young girls can have very detrimental effects on their emotional well-being and feelings of self-worth later on. And increasingly realistic simulations of violence have been linked with aggression in boys, as well. Draw the line, be firm, and then focus on fun. Someday, your kid will be happy you did. (After all, they still got their candy.)