When it comes to Halloween, and many other times, we as parents have a natural desire to lead our children into what [we think] is best and teach them how to do this or that.
Unfortunately, this steals the joy and freedom for our little ones and can stifle their independence and creativity. Let’s delve right into this regarding pumpkin and Halloween fun.
It’s a very fun tradition for most families to take their children to a pumpkin farm every year to pick out one or more pumpkins that will later be carved and displayed. Many parents guide their children to “good-looking” pumpkins or try to convince them a certain pumpkin is more beautiful than one the children may have chosen. But here’s the deal: A toddler or young child can choose his or her own pumpkin with no help needed by either parent. Your child may pick out the most unattractive pumpkin but it doesn’t matter. Lumps, bumps, scrapes, color, and all, leave it up to your child to choose the pumpkin.
We need to let go of the idea of a “perfect” pumpkin/Fall/Halloween/holiday/etc. and instead let our child lead in the fun. In fact, it may do more for you as the parent! It will brighten your spirit to see your child so full of joy choosing the pumpkin or feeling free in an activity while releasing control – and all the while your child becomes more self-confident because you are trusting his or her choices. Allowing child-participation is crucial to a child’s development and trust between parents and child.
When it comes to carving the pumpkin, a toddler can help by drawing whatever he or she would like on the pumpkin and then the parent or caregiver (never the child) can carve out the child’s drawing. Allowing the child to draw whatever he or she pleases is allowing the child’s creativity to grow and flourish. Your child will love watching you carve out the drawing but make sure to respect the child’s request if he or she doesn’t want you cutting out a specific area (sometimes a child likes to keep a drawing or more color on the pumpkin). Then once the pumpkin is out of reach of your toddler, you can place a candle in it and see the joy, delight, and pride your child feels seeing his or her art glowing on a pumpkin.
We as parents know what we are capable of but we have so much to learn about what creativity and imagination lies within our little ones. By allowing them to “do it” we can start to see what they are capable of…and it’s always so much more than our adult minds could have dreamt up.
Happy Halloween and Fall! Be safe!