As preschoolers seek to make sense of the world, they use play and superheroes to help.
Why Superheroes?
By definition, superheroes are larger than life, brave, influential, and seemingly able to overcome any obstruction with great physical prowess while doing great actions at the same time. Young kids, facing the challenges of learning many new skills, may often feel small, powerless, fearful, unable to achieve what they desire, or troubled—in other words, just the opposite of superheroes. It’s no wonder that many preschoolers are drawn to superhero play. Through play they can feel courageous, fearless, in control of their world, outside of ordinary and just plain good.
Superhero Play and Child Development
Early childhood education tells us that play is a major vehicle in growth.
Through play, kids test the waters, try out roles and behaviors, inspect right and wrong, experiment with language, use creativity, find outlets for physical activity, and learn more about difficult skills like impulse control and conflict resolution. Obviously, many children have a need to play superheroes, and this form of rough and tumble, free play, can add to healthy development. According to Teacher Training Course in Mumbai “There are many benefits to the whole child during superhero play. Children develop physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally during this type of play. It can comprise rough and tumble play, and frequently involves significant chasing as well. Also, superhero play often includes much negotiation between children.”Some kids may become violent and others may get hurt. Adults are important in guiding children to proper and safe superhero play.
Fostering Healthy Superhero Play
Preferably, free play should be autonomous and unrestricted. In reality, adults need to first set up safe surroundings, provide proper toys, set limits, and then supervise play. Beyond this, there are four important ways to promote healthy superhero play:
•Help kids understand more about “the good guys” and “the bad guys.”
•Identify the difference between typical action-oriented play and violence.
•Understand how best to deal with play that crosses the line to hostility.
•Promote preschoolers to practice bravery and conflict resolution.
The Good Guys
Young children at play don’t essentially distinguish real people from imaginary characters—an American soldier is a good guy just like Spiderman or Batman. Support healthy superhero play by creating opportunities outside of playtime to talk and read about what makes “good guys” good. Qualities like strength of mind, gentleness, helpfulness, selflessness, and bravery create heroes, not necessarily physical strength nor dying in the line of duty.
Point out differences between dream superheroes and real heroes. People don’t have super-human skills like flying high above a city spinning one web after another. While fantasy play is fun, kids should never try superhero feats, nor fight fire or offense in real life.
The Bad Guys
Look for teachable moments and create opportunities other than during free play to help kids see that countries around the world are made up of people more like them than not. Explain that “bad guys” are people who make serious mistakes, like killing or setting fires, which have serious consequences. People who make these faults are of many different ages, races, abilities, and cultures. They can pay for their mistakes and change. Anyone born is a neither “bad guy”nor needs to remain a criminal his whole life. Young children may need reminding that most people in the world are good, and that the “bad guys” make up only a small proportion of all people.
Rough and Tumble Play Versus Aggression
One of the most significant steps in nurturing healthy superhero play is to be able to identify the difference between action-oriented, rough and tumble play and true violence. Nursery teacher training course, says that most of us are not qualified to tell the difference. Typical, enthusiastic play, which may seem non-sensical and chaotic to adults, includes “falling down, hitting without hurting, diving, yelling or other loud mimicking language, etc.,” he explains. On the other hand, hostility includes control, bullying, humiliation, or real hitting and fighting. Adults should step in and stop violent behavior when children stop having fun, show real anger or fear, or begin real hitting. When action-oriented play is confused with violent behavior, it’s more likely that both types of play will be stopped, and kids run the risk of losing the benefits of healthy, free play.
What to Do When Play Crosses the Line
Children learn about limits, mastering impulses, solving problems, resolving conflicts, and controlling violent behavior in play by trial and error over time. Some kids in the learning process will likely cross the line from play to aggression. Make sure that all children are aware of the rules and the consequences for breaking rules, but avoid shaming anyone who makes a mistake. Normally, preschoolers are more attracted to the action of superhero play than the aggression. Suggest that saving a life is more heroic than taking one.

Author's Bio: 

Lizzie Milan holds Master’s in Psychology Degree. She was working as supervisor in teachers training institute.
Currently, she is working as course co-ordinator for diploma in early childhood education (ecce) & nursery teacher training (ntt) courses since last 20 years.