To borrow an expression from Monster High, “Oh my ghoul!” The season to trick or treat is here. The time to prepare your kids’ Halloween costumes has come again. What will they be this year?
Picking a costume to wear on Halloween can be a hard task for parents, what with the seemingly endless possibilities. But be careful what you choose! Some costumes are better left in the imagination—no matter how cute or funny you think they are.
The cool thing about Halloween is that it allows us almost free reign on what we can dress up to be. Note our use of the word almost.
Rachel Busman, director of Selective Mutism Service and a clinical psychologist at the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center, says some people consider Halloween a day when they get a free pass to dress however they want. This notion is problematic, especially when it comes to kids.
While adults understand and know the consequences of their choices, kids may not. A costume sending the wrong message can gather negative responses from the public. This, of course, can have a significant effect on your children.
Choosing age-appropriate Halloween costumes for your children is really important because of the possible consequences and effects it can have on them. Jessica Vician of Family Online Safety Institute, an international nonprofit organization advocating good digital parenting, advises parents to help their children “consider both the implications of certain costumes and the importance of a positive digital reputation.”
“Regardless of the costume your [child] chooses, its impact might be stronger after the Halloween party when photos are posted on social media,” says Vician. “These days, a misguided costume choice isn’t just something your [child] could regret for a couple days. Your family could be threatened and your [child’s] reputation destroyed.”
The topic of choosing appropriate Halloween costumes is relevant because now it’s not only your family, friends, and neighbors who will know what your children’s costumes are this year. Social media can document and broadcast this to the whole world, leaving you and your children open to criticism and abuse such as bullying.
Bullying is real, and it can happen to your children. By hiding behind the mask of anonymity online, bullies can say pretty nasty stuff about you and your children.
In the video above from the Canadian Safe School Network, kids read mean tweets aloud. This was modeled after the popular segment of Jimmy Kimmel’s show where celebrities read mean tweets about themselves.
But that’s where the similarities end.
“Adult celebrities have the maturity and confidence to overcome these hurtful words. Children don’t. For regular kids, words can cut like a knife,” said Stu Auty, president of the Canadian Safe School Network, on the organization’s blog. Clearly, cyberbullying is not funny, and it’s definitely not OK. Dressing your child in a questionable costume may leave him or her open to this kind of harassment, especially if a picture goes viral.
Fortunately, there is a really simple guideline parents can follow in choosing Halloween costumes for their children.
“Dressing up should be creative and age-appropriate,” says Busma. “As parents our goal is to encourage kids to express their creativity and have fun, but in a way that is appropriate.” For starters, she advises kids’ costumes don’t need to be sexy or too violent and gory.
That’s something to think about the next time you pick your children’s Halloween costumes.
What was the worst Halloween costume you ever saw or wore? Share it with us.