By Ganit Shaked, Social Worker at ELIYA, Rehovot branch


The holiday of Purim can be an exciting, fun-filled time, when children can disguise themselves, dress up in costumes, put on makeup and masks and even make more noise than is usually acceptable with their noise makers!

At the same time some customs of the holiday can be challenging and even scary for little ones and this is especially so for the blind and vision impaired.  We at ELIYA have put together some tips for dealing with the holiday and ensuring that your little one has fun at this time.

Choosing a costume

It’s important that the child gets to choose to dress up as a character that is familiar to him. This is an excellent opportunity for you to speak with your child about his choice, and to explore together with him his inner feelings: “I would like to be tall, big, strong…if only I could fly in the sky like Superman!”

Once you both have decided on a character, it’s best to choose a costume that is comfortable, safe and minimalistic (without too many buttons and fastenings), uncomplicated and without features that limit his movement .It’s a good idea for the child to wear light comfortable cotton clothing under the costume to avoid skin contact with the sometimes uncomfortable fabric of the costume. Many children don’t feel comfortable with masks or makeup on their faces. If this is the case, it’s best not to insist that they wear masks or makeup.

Preparing your child for the Purim party in kindergarten

We recommend that your child tries on her costume several times at home well before the anticipated party in kindergarten to accustom her to the feeling of the costume. This is a good opportunity to take photos before the “big day” of the party rather than on the same day, thereby lessening any feelings of pressure. Explain that on the day of the party, her teacher, the staff and fellow kindergartners will also be wearing costumes and the kindergarten will be festive and decorated.

Morning of the party

Despite of all the preparation, many children refuse to wear their costumes on the day of the party and want to go to kindergarten in their usual clothing. In these circumstances it’s natural for parents to feel disappointment, but it’s important that you prepare yourself for this possibility and refrain from forcing your child to “dress up.” If this is the case, send the costume to kindergarten with the child. Hopefully, once he gets to kindergarten, he’ll change his mind and want to wear a costume like the other children. If your child is taken to kindergarten by special transport (bus or otherwise), it’s even preferable that he does not wear his costume in the bus but bring it in a separate bag to be dressed up when he arrives.

Clowns, masked people and giants

During the holiday period, many of the streets and public places are filled with loud sounds from noisemakers, music and loudspeakers, along with people dressed up in all sorts of costumes, some of which can be frightening to your child. It’s best to avoid insisting your child approach the big scary clown. Explain to your child that this is merely an adult all dressed up for the holiday. If your child is agreeable allow him to approach and/or touch the giant clown.

Dealing with loud noises

Purim is a holiday filled with loud and abrupt noises, music and other sounds that can be frightening to your child. It’s a good idea to prepare your child for this before the holiday begins, explaining that although the sounds are loud, they are not dangerous but merely a way for people to have fun. Even if you, personally, don’t find the loud music or noise frightening, your blind or visually impaired child may feel differently. A warm and understanding hug will help your child to feel less afraid and more secure. You can even ask your child what would help them to deal with their fear: a hug, pat, singing a song he loves, holding a beloved doll, and so on.

Don’t forget that above all, the goal is to be happy and enjoy the festivities, each child in his own way. Indeed, this is also the goal for you parents – to escape momentarily from your day-to-day concerns, to fly on the wings of your imaginations, to celebrate and to join in on the joy of the holiday!

Happy Purim to all!

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