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The Importance of Playing Dress-ups

by Colleen P Moyne (Colmo) (follow)
I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in SA, dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full time.
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Children in Costumes
Image courtesy of flickr.com

All children like to play dress-ups. From a very early age they love to try on your hats, jewelry, glasses – even your shoes. They want to emulate you and test out what it’s like to ‘be’ you.

Children are naturally curious about anything they perceive to be different than their idea of ‘the norm.’ They see kids’ television shows with smiling presenters prancing around in wigs and costumes and they’re fascinated.

This natural curiosity is ingrained in them from infanthood and essential in developing their imagination and their perception of the world around them. It’s how children understand diversity in people and learn that we all have different looks, personalities and roles.

Children in Costumes
Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Dress-ups of any kind should be encouraged. It’s a part of every kindergarten curriculum and should also be part of their home play.

I have known parents that have expressed concern when they see their son dressing in female clothes or their daughter dressing as a strong male character. Rest assured that this kind of play does not determine – or remotely influence - your child’s sexual identity. It is just another form of curious play. I knew a small boy who used to love sneaking into his mother’s room and dressing in her lingerie. He is now a very macho adult male. If a child is gay, trust me - it has been pre-determined long before they put on your pink nightie or pearl earrings and nothing will change that.

Boy in Superman Costume
Image courtesy of pixabay.com

The only time we need to be concerned is if our child engages in violent or overly-adult play. This needs to be addressed in a gentle but serious way.

So what kind of dress-ups should we provide? Well, just about anything. Keep a container – a toybox, suitcase or lidded storage box – especially for dress-up items like hats, masks, glasses, scarves, ties, jewelry, handbags, shoes and clothes. Check out your local thrift shop for bits and pieces. You’ll often find proper costumes and wigs at cheap prices.

Boy in Superman Costume
Image courtesy of pixabay.com

A word of warning, though. If you are going to include things like scarves, ties and jewelry, make sure they don’t present a choking hazard to your child. Perhaps reserve some things for use only when you are there to supervise. Otherwise let them go for it – and maybe consider joining them. I’m sure they - and you - will have a ball.

#Any Age
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