Superheroes are an iconic part of our culture and they impact children perhaps most of all. While superheroes can provide important role models and help bolster a child's creativity, they can also present a level of danger to kids who take the superhero fantasy too far. It's possible for your child to maintain his appreciation of superheroes without partaking in unrealistic or dangerous behaviors.
The Importance of Role Models
Adventuresome and risk-taking play is an inevitable and important part of being a kid. Further, hampering children's seemingly unrealistic dreams can also put a damper on their creativity. Role models, such as villain-fighting superheroes, are often essential components of these childhood fantasies. The National Association for the Education of Young Children explains superhero play helps children develop language and problem-solving skills.
Delusions of Grandeur
According to the "Archives of Disease in Childhood," superhero role models can be problematic for children. In several case studies noted by the journal, children donning superhero costumes sustained potentially serious injuries due to unrealistic expectations about their abilities while wearing the costumes. In all the cases studied, the children involved partook in extreme risk-taking behaviors that resulted in hospitalization. The NAEYC recommends instead of discouraging superhero play for fear of how kids might hurt themselves, helping children make the most of it by finding ways to discuss how this play can be done safely.
Scaling It Back
Make sure your child understands the difference between human and superhuman capabilities and that donning a superhero costume does not give him superhuman powers. Additionally, some costumes may have more padding than others, which can make a significant difference when it comes to what could potentially injure your child while he's wearing a superhero costume. When considering the purchase of superhero costumes, take into consideration age-appropriate play.
Explaining the Difference
Superheroes are fun for children to fantasize about and are a good means of learning about "good" and "bad," but the NAEYC recommends talking to your kids about real life role models too. The NAEYC says talking to your kids about figures like Martin Luther King Jr. shows how people in the real world can demonstrate acts of courage. Superhero play can also be an effective tool in teaching kids about other educational topics. For instance, Spiderman might influence a child's interest in the world of insects.