We spend all year teaching our children how to stay safe and healthy. We tell them to eat healthy food, to stay out of the streets, and we tell them not to talk to (or take candy from) strangers. However, each October the complete opposite happens. We tell them to run back and forth from house to house, often into the street. We tell them to talk to as many strangers as possible and to retrieve and consume an obscene amount of sugar. Not only do we encourage this, we celebrate it.
It’s perhaps this shift in taboo that causes kids to go crazy on Halloween. They talk a little too loud, they run just a little too fast, and they laugh uncontrollably on their sugar highs. But, there’s a lot we can learn about our kids through the process. The first thing that we notice is when our children are a little younger. Their first times leaving mommy and daddy to interact with a complete stranger means that our kids must summon up previously dormant bravery.
This is also a time that we adults have forgotten. While we dismiss symbols of terror as harmless and sometimes funny, young kids take them very seriously. Haunted houses and unsettling decorations are nerve-racking at most for adults, but for children, this evokes fear and panic, and can sometimes linger as the nightmare. It’s a peculiar thing to recall how real all of this felt and to, with hindsight, understand how these experiences helped to teach you how to cope with the notion of life and death.
The second insight we gain is how Halloween facilitates the differentiation between good and evil. The dawning of costumes allows our kids to take on a new and dramatic personality. Some choose superheroes and adopt the personality of city saviour. Some kids choose to embody evil spirits or demons and to flirt with the notion of life and death. Others still, prefer to act out the positive side of fantasy or fairy tale characters. Regardless of the choice, it gives us parents the chance to witness how our children view themselves in the world.
At this point, some parents may be concerned that their children choose to dress as evil. Don’t fret. This doesn’t mean that they are bad, or identify with the darker sides of being human. Rather, it means that they are confronting their proverbial inner demons. It means that they have the healthy capacity to recognize that not everything is perfect in the world, at least not yet.
These costumes imbue our children with power and with anonymity. On Halloween, they aren’t dressed AS something, they ARE ninja, they ARE witches. They truly feel that they are a mere second away from actually breathing fire. This newfound power and understood fact that adults can’t tell who they really are is what facilitates the strength to break the rules and to grow as a person.
We at PlayBurg believe that each day provides a new opportunity to better understand your children and provides new tools to help them develop. Some days are a little more obvious than others but if you pay attention, there’s no limit to how far our children can go.