Costumes and developmental play

Parenting in the First 3 Years Podcast


#39: What Happens When Your Child Puts on a Costume? Developmental Play!

with Ann McKitrick

It’s that time of year when kids like to wear their Halloween costume any chance they get and I say, let ’em! It seems like just a little thing, but costumes and developmental play go hand in hand. Costumes allow children to pretend big, often exploring themes of power and justice. When they put on a costume that indicates “I’m in charge” they are able to practice what it feels like to be powerful, whether that’s a powerful lion, princess, witch or superhero. They’re allowed, in this role, to try on behaviors that might otherwise quieted down. 
In this episode…
  • You’ll learn what happens in the mind of a child when they put on a costume and become the character.
  • You’ll get tips on how to play with your little superhero in a way that respects the process of play and models care and cooperation, even when you’re pretending to be an evil character.
Learn more about developmental play by downloading 20 Ways to Play With Your Baby and Toddler. This free tool explains how to support your child’s development by playing with simple things you have around the house – for children from birth to 3 years old. There’s also a great explanation of the developmental stages of play and the do’s and don’ts of playing with your kid.


Here’s a glance at this episode…

  • [01:16] When you put on a costume and immediately begin acting like whatever you are
  • [03:20] How “theory of mind” develops and what this has to do with pretend play
  • [04:20] Costumes allow children to practice and rehearse real life, including moral dilemmas
  • [06:03] Does superhero play lead to aggressive play?
  • [07:30] How parents can be part of the play in a way that supports not squashes
  • [09:34] Costumes allow kids to “try on” behaviors that are not allowed normally and why that’s good

Listen now!


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One last thing.

I spend time each morning in meditation and would love to pray for you, your child or whatever’s on your heart. Simply email me and let me know how to pray. It can be as simple just your name or you can give a short explanation. Either way you can trust that I will do it. No strings attached, no follow up email or anything, just a quiet way for me to support you in your parenting journey. Because no one needs to feel alone. 🧡