Is Your Child a Superhero?

It’s quite natural for your child to engage in superhero play because it gives them a chance to emulate being powerful and unconquerable! Such activity can also help build personality traits and aid in overall development.

So, should you run out and buy them a cape?

The Influence Of Superheroes

Nearly every kid at some point latches onto a fictitious character whose main job is to spare the planet from the “evil” that surrounds it. In fact, research has shown superheroes have a major role in children’s lives, particularly when they are very young.

Role Models

Is your child a superhero? Well, superheroes that kids see in books or on cartoons are certainly influential. They also generally tend to foster good values, which is vital to a child’s healthy development.

Because superheroes are known for their tremendous power and abilities, they can teach children to become better versions of themselves and to move beyond real-life hurdles and challenges.

In fact, a study in the Journal of Psychology termed the boost in perseverance demonstrated by four-year-olds engaged in superhero pretend play “The Batman Effect.”

Superhero play sessions support increased social interaction and development of a new descriptive vocabulary. They also help children develop empathy — a concern for the people and creatures in the real-life world they inhabit.

Is It All Good?

There is little to no evidence that superhero play is detrimental to kids or has an enduring effect on assertive or aggressive behavior. However, when promoting such activity, parents should make sure children do not engage in the gender and racial stereotypes that often imbue superhero lore. Perhaps you can help kids pick well-rounded superhero characters with healthy back stories. Ask your kids to tell you why they like a certain superhero.

How To Get Superhero Play Started

To encourage superhero play, if you notice your child developing an interest in a certain superhero character that you believe has positive role model potential, there are moves you can make to promote the “relationship” and teach through play.

One way is to toss a birthday party and ask the children to dress up and act like their favorite superhero. This spurs kids’ imagination and gets them thinking about the role of their idols and, eventually, to recognizing the difference between fantasy and reality.

If your child initiates superhero play, encourage it! You can use a towel or sheet to make a cape, and ask him or her questions like, “What superpowers could we have today? If the child is older, you can ask, “What could you do with your superpower?” or “What super adventure will you take today?”

You should also talk to your children while they’re playing about the characters and scenarios they’re presenting and encourage them to explain what they think someone else in the scene is experiencing. You can also point out in a way they can understand some challenges real-life people face, and how “heroes” sometimes solve them.

A few strategies to support superhero play include setting reasonable time limits, getting involved in the play and discussing the positive aspects of being a superhero aside from their power. Be careful to make sure the children can make choices and have power over their own lives. It’s also critical to help children develop plots that don’t involve fighting. Have the kids work with you to create play rules, and make sure they understand which behaviors are not acceptable.

So, is your child a superhero? With the proper context and encouragement, they can certainly emulate one. And the values and other skills developed through superhero play could last a lifetime.

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