Last updated on Jun 21st, 2021 at 10:47 am

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Superman! Well… actually it’s not. It is your 4-year-old draped in your great grandmother’s antique tablecloth, acting out his favourite cartoon character. Not only is your offspring running around in your prized heirloom, he has finished off his superhero outfit by wearing your last pair of unladdered pantyhose as a mask.

Being a superhero is every child’s fantasy. I mean, who doesn’t want to have super powers, such as flying or swinging from building to building like Spider-Man!

Preschoolers are fascinated with heroic cartoon characters, but is this healthy? Ilze van der Merwe, psychologist and director from the family focused Bella Vida Centre in Bryanston, Johannesburg explains just how beneficial this form of play can be for your child:

  • “Superhero play helps a child to identify with their own abilities. When a child wears his caped crusader’s outfit, he feels as if he has all the power and abilities of his chosen superhero.
  • Pretending to be a brave superhero can also help children imagine what frightening experiences are like and how they can conquer them.
  • Superhero play can make children feel more comfortable with trying new things, as it gives them power and strength when they wear a superhero costume or pretend to be a brave hero.
  • Dramatic play with central themes of good and bad, friends and enemies and power and vulnerability helps children to learn the difference between these concepts and to understand rules.
  • Pretending to be a superhero can help children to develop problem-solving skills, as they examine lots of possible solutions to a problem.
  • Children learn to be more creative during superhero play.
  • Superhero play is good in helping a child’s physical development, as he jumps, runs and actively imitates the superhuman abilities of his heroes.
  • Preschoolers learn about cooperation and teamwork when they create a story together, discuss how the game is going to work and how to solve problems that may arise.
  • Superhero play expands a child’s vocabulary and develops their language skills while he interacts with other children and supervising adults.
  • When a child pretends to be someone else, he imagines how others feel and he becomes aware of other people’s needs, which build on his empathy skills.

By Xanet van Vuuren

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