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Wish Blog

Oct 30, 2018

The Healing Power of Pretend

Halloween is a favorite holiday for delivering the three “Fs” – fun, friends and fantasy (four, if you count free candy)!
From parties to trick-or-treating, Halloween brings together communities in ways that few other holidays do. The creativity and just plain silliness of the day charms children and adults alike.

For a child with a critical illness, Halloween is a perfect opportunity to take a break from the challenges of their daily life. Suspending reality for a few hours to enjoy some age-old Halloween traditions can be a very welcome distraction. But did you know that putting on a costume can actually be healthy for these kids?

Dressing up for Halloween gives kids the chance to imagine themselves beyond the current moment in time. A shy or fearful child can be transformed by a costume into a brave superhero or fierce lion, capable of facing down any challenge.

According to Jenny Solomon, who leads a drama therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “When someone is terrified or feeling hopeless, giving them a chance to play a character who feels brave and strong integrates into the body, where new neural pathways are formed. In other words, the situations may be imaginary, but the benefits are anything but.” 

Pretend play allows kids to experiment with the social and emotional roles of life. It builds self-esteem when they discover they can be anything just by pretending. Sometimes acting brave can actually make you brave!

Photo by Gabriela Braga on Unsplash

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