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Superhero Play

Dear Debi,
My 3-year-old loves to play superheroes, but recently he has been playing a little too rough with his sister. What should I do to stop this violent behavior?
Elizabeth, West Hollywood, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Superhero play is important and promotes creativity and social development
  • Set up guidelines for superhero play and supervise the children at all times
  • Encouraging positive Superhero Play will allow children to face their fears and help them feel powerful and in control of the things they experience
Expert Advice
Lucia Palacios
Lucia Palacios
Executive Director, USC School of Early Childhood Education
Superhero Play is very important. It improves language skills, promotes creativity and encourages social skills.

Most importantly, Superhero Play helps children learn how to face their own fears; it gives them a sense of power and awareness. It is also a great outlet for them to act out, which they need to do, constantly.

For Superhero Play to be successful however, it is necessary for parents and providers to guide and supervise it so that it doesnít get out of control.

If it does, providers should use that opportunity to explain why violence and aggression is not acceptable, and make sure that the child understands that superheroes exist in order to help other people.
Child Care provider Comments
Family child care provider for 4 years
In my eyes, superheroes can actually be detrimental. Iíve had children, for example, who couldnít agree on which characters to play, so they began hitting each other.

I really donít agree with the idea of allowing children to play superheroes. I feel that superheroes arenít good role models for them, so I try to redirect them to play other kinds of heroes, such as firefighters or police officers.
Family child care provider for 2 years
When I see children get into superhero play, I begin to set up parameters and guidelines. And during their play, if it gets out of control, I talk to them to explain that thereís no violence allowed and that they must respect each otherís space.
Family child care provider for 5 months
I allow superhero play as long as children understand the difference between reality and television, and Iím always supervising it so that they donít get hurt.

Squirt Art Featured Activity:
Squirt Art
Superhero Play Featured Video:
Superhero Play
Topic: Play & Creativity
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