I can remember playing outdoors for hours on end pretending I was someone else. Usually, it was acting out “Little House on the Prairie” episodes or simply playing house. Sometimes I was alone and sometimes I acted with my sister. The benefits of kids playing dress up are many and they go way beyond keeping them busy for an hour while you get things done! Not only is a costume box a great source of flexing the imagination muscles, it also teaches social skills and problem solving skills.
The Value of Kids Playing Dress Up
Dress Up Encourages Kids to Imagine
From the time my kids were very young, I encouraged them to play with costumes and pretend they were anyone they wanted to be for the day. It is so great for them to develop their imagination. Sure it is entertaining and fun but imagination goes way beyond that. As About My Brain puts it, “The ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts.”
My son especially enjoyed this. He would dig around in our costume box and put together his own costumes from about the age of two. My favorite was Captain Jack Sparrow. He would wear one of my old dress jackets with a belt, his sword and pirate pistol in that belt, his cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat on top. He would come and point to his face and ask me to make him a beard (with eyeliner) and would spend hours playing with unseen enemies and friends all day. It was hard for me to get him out of that one! Now, he is 13 and he draws out comics of the adventures that go on inside his head. It makes me smile just thinking about it. I think he could have a great career as a movie writer or director someday!
My daughter also loved to dress up. Mostly as a princess which she never really needed a costume to persuade me of! She has become an excellent writer and I like to credit at least part of that to her imagination of very vivid characters. Her love of fancy dresses was rivaled by her love of playing outside and acting out survival scenarios. She was building waterproof tents and weaving her own rope even as a very small child. I think her imagination there could bring her very far as an environmental scientist!
Dress Up Encourages Good Social Skills
Naturally, when kids play dress up, they will act out scenes from their imagination and role play. If they are doing this will other children, this will build social skills as they negotiate the course of events and try to shape the storyline to their liking.
Even if they are acting out scenes alone or with an imaginary best friend, role play will provide them with the opportunity to think through various scenarios. What will happen if the princess says this? What will the pirate do if he gets caught by a stronger sea captain? According to Wired, “It is one of the key ways in which children learn.” It is a great way for them to test out different behaviors and scenarios they are curious about. It also offers adults some inside view of what kids may be thinking about.
Dress Up Encourages Creativity
When children start digging through their costume box, they will find they don’t have all the things they want to dress up in all the characters they can think of. This will help them learn to be creative and use things in more than one way. Learning to create costumes is a lot of fun. My daughter is 15 and she still uses these skills to sew dresses for herself and to sketch out different fashion designs.
Playing dress up helps develop problem solving skills. It encourages kids to create their own costumes. It also helps kids work through social struggles that may come up during the dress up role play games.
Make A Costume Box For Kids To Encourage Playing Dress Up
A costume box is really easy to put together because children have the gift of sight that adults have lost as they grow older and lose their innocence to the world. Just as my son saw his cowboy boots as Jack’s and the cap as hair…so will your children find simple things that prove to be marvelous for them. All it takes is for you to designate a place where they can put their treasures when play resumes the next time.
Simple items like belts, ties, scarves, and hats will start the collection off nicely. Throw in their Halloween costumes for use all year long. They are too expensive to just pack them away for the year. Let them wear your investment until it falls apart!
Not only is a costume box a great source of flexing the imagination muscles, it also teaches them to be social and how they would solve problems. The effects of kids playing dress up will carry on into their lives as they grow up making them feel more confident to think for themselves and be individuals.