Ezra just had his first Halloween party for this year and while we crammed to get him a costume that he likes, he’s fixed on one thing: policeman costume. Of course, I scavenged online for a good one — at the price range I allotted. Unfortunately, all policeman costumes I found were either not his size or too expensive for my budget.
Ever since Ezra was one, I always let him decide on things like this: what to wear, how to wear it, what to eat, how to eat it, etc. I always encourage him to make his own decisions and to explore his own disposition on things. But, should they always get what they want? Of course not!
I remember Erikson’s theory on psychosocial development. Kids aged 1-3 are under Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt, while kids aged 3-5 are under Initiative vs Guilt. Ezra’s 3 turning 4 so I’m going to touch a little on both stages.
Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt: Oh the willful exploration, the incessant need to control things and the incredible shift from totally dependent beings to trying-hard independent ones! Are you a parent or a caregiver to a kid at this age? If so, you probably know what I’m talking about. From toilet training which helps them gain self-control on their body, to gaining control over food choices, clothing selection, toy preferences and even choice of playmates, children at this age become increasingly CONTROLLING.
Frankly, it can be frustrating that we can’t follow our “parental instincts” all the time. It can be frustrating that we have to adjust to what they want. But, bare in mind that personal autonomy and self-control are essential parts of their personal growth. In fact, children who are able to complete this stage are said to become secured and confident individuals. Children who are always “controlled” may experience shame and doubt, especially when it comes to their abilities, and decision making.
Initiative vs Guilt: At this age, kids exercise more control over their world. They become more assertive and they begin to take initiative. Helping with chores, worshipping certain heroes, starting to do pretend play, and having weird games are totally normal… Even wanting to do EVERYTHING themselves!!! Seriously, I sometimes feel he has this weird obsession to do things himself. He wants to be the one to turn the light on/off, he doesn’t want any help brushing his teeth, he wants to put powder on his own, he wants to be the one to turn on the AC, etc.! So yes, it can also be frustrating for parents/caregivers but we have to let them explore their world. We have to allow them to like what they like and dislike what they dislike.
For example, if as parents we lost a certain hope for policemen because a lot of policemen are corrupt these days, we need to keep it to ourselves. If our kids love policemen, let them love policemen. After all, policemen are really beacons of justice and lawful conduct, aren’t they? So let them know what policemen are supposed to be, not what you personally think of them now. Do not taint what they know of the world with how you experience it. Let them discover the world according to their own experience.
Another example would be allowing them to help with chores or things they’re interested in. Yes, it could mean you would have to take a lot more time than usual but you can’t just always dismiss a kid who wants to help.
Completing this stage successfully makes a kid more confident about taking initiative. They would also understand failing in a sense that if mistakes happen, they can just try again. Otherwise, kids who fail to develop a sense of initiative may develop fear in trying new things as well as feeling guilty over mistakes or failures, thinking they are “bad”.
So yes, while allowing children to decide and explore and gain control over certain things in life, it is also important to continually guide them to enforce safe boundaries and to make good choices. This is done through modeling, reinforcement and eye-to-eye explanations on why certain things cannot be done.
I leaned close to Ezra and explained to him that we only have this certain budget for his costume and I can’t adjust it further because it’s not practical as I know he’s only going to use it once or twice anyway. At first, he told me to “look for it properly.” Hahaha! He also had initial questions like “Can we go to the bank to buy money?” and “Can you buy a policeman costume when I’m older?” Believe me, I was about to budge and just buy him the costume. But of course, I want him to understand that he cannot always get everything that he wants, especially on things like these. There’s always a limit to things and that’s okay. Thankfully, he understood. So, we searched for alternative costumes he may like. We ended up with this… and just so you know, that’s totally his choice!
We were only able to buy the suit so I DIY-ed the mask. I was also going to make the claws but due to lack of materials, I wasn’t able to complete it on time. Oops.
Anyway, Ezra was super happy about his costume. He even wore it again the next day after the party. Best of all, he never asked about the policeman costume anymore. 😉
How I made the Wolverine mask
I cheated! 😅😂
- 1: I googled a Wolverine mask and picked the design I liked best.
- 2: I grabbed a bond paper and traced the mask straight from the computer screen (saves printer ink 😋)
- 3: I cut out the eyes part first and tried it on Ezra. I didn’t get the right size the first 3 times so I had to adjust it until I perfected the size.
- 4: I cut the perfectly sized mask from the bond paper and used it as a pattern.
- 5: As I said, we lack materials so I used one part of Ezra’s old coloring book cardboard cover. I traced the bond paper pattern, cut out the cardboard cover, then painted it with watercolor (first coat) and poster color (second coat).
- 6: I put a garter no both sides, size based on my son’s head. You can just staple or sew it to keep it in place.
How about you? What’s your kid’s Halloween costume for this year? 🙂2