I have three small boys. They have a lot of energy to burn most days and very different interests. One type of play seems to often engage all three is super hero play.

Super hero play“The first steps in creating the heroes of tomorrow are to help preschoolers today believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference. They can begin this process in play.” Super hero play is great for this.

Through super hero play our kids can feel brave, fearless, in control of their world, outside of ordinary, and just plain good about themselves.

The good bits of super hero play

When I see my boys playing super heros with each other I can see so many great things going on. They are dressing up and using their imagination. They don’t seem to need any special costumes. A pair of undies and a cape made from a long sleeve t-shirt seems to be enough to be Captain Underpants. Mr Yellow just needs the right coloured shirt.

They bring different narratives to the game. The oldest brings his ideas from books he has read or games he has played at school. The two little boys are bringing their own ideas from their every day play with their friends at Playcentre. As they play together they are negotiating and contributing to their group play and creating something completely different to what they started with. They are all contributing ideas, and developing their negotiation and communication skills along the way.

They are charging around letting of steam and getting some much needed exercise too. I feel a bit nervous when one of them asks me to move a piece of furniture so its not in the way when he “flies” from the top bunk. But generally no one gets hurt.

They are engaged and in charge of their play. There doesn’t seem to be that much conflict, or perhaps they are resolving this themselves? Either way it is great to see.

For parents there are lots of ways to support healthy super hero play:

  • Help children understand more about “the good guys” and “the bad guys.”  Perhaps talk about it at the dinner table, or some other time when they are not in middle of battling the “Joker” or another evil “baddy”.
  • Recognise the difference between typical action-oriented play and aggression.
  • Have a plan for when things get out of control and clear guidelines that the kids know about. Perhaps they can agree with each other what the rules are?
  • Encourage the great aspects of such as heroism and conflict resolution.

Enjoy it while it lasts. They are only little super heroes for a short time.


Mummy to three brave super heroes

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