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When Your Child Keeps Changing His Mind about His Halloween Costume

It’s October 1st.  You’re at the store with your seven-year-old son.  The two of you are looking at Halloween costumes.  He finds a costume that he really likes.  Yes, he’s sure he wants to be a hot dog in a bun this year for Halloween.  So, you pay for the costume and head home.  You haven’t even walked in the door of your house when your son declares that he has decided that he’d rather be a football player for Halloween this year.  Ah, you know this routine well.  Your child changes his mind all the time.  Here is how you can handle the seemingly endless sequence of desired Halloween costumes this year.

1.      Ask your child to give the subject some thought.  Don’t rush out and return the hot dog costume just yet.  Who knows?  Maybe the hot dog will return to the top of his list again before Halloween.

2.      Help your child research all the costumes available to him.  Brainstorm with your child about the pros and cons of the various costumes.

3.      Let him know that he will need to make a final decision by October 25th (or some other pre-Halloween date of your choosing).  Make sure that he knows that the decision he makes on that date will be final . . . there will be no more changing of minds after that date.

4.      If, on that date, he declares that he wants to be a vampire, then return the hot dog costume and purchase the vampire costume.

5.      If, on the day after that, he states that he wants to be a mummy, remind him of the agreement that the two of you had.  Expect tears and anger.  He will be upset that he cannot change his mind again.  He may say that he won’t go trick-or-treating if he can’t be who he wants to be.  Let him have his moment to fuss, but stand your ground.  You two had an agreement.  He must honor it, just as you will.  This will be an important life lesson for him:  the importance of keeping your word and honoring your agreements.

6.      On Halloween, if he still refuses to don the vampire costume, you have a choice:   you can force him to wear the vampire costume and go trick-or-treating (safe in the knowledge that he will probably have fun once he gets in the spirit of the occasion) or you can allow him to stay home in his normal clothes and hand out candy to other trick-or-treaters (hoping that he will so miss trick-or-treating that he will approach next Halloween differently than he did this year).   Either way, he experiences accountability relative to the agreement that he made with you regarding his Halloween costume choice.

By handling your son as described above, you can minimize your frustration over your child’s relentless changes of mind on what he wants to be for Halloween . . . and you will have taught him an important life lesson as well.

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