I have recently begun a new position on the state level but I was a ECE and ECSE teacher for 27 years. As much as there is caution and fear about superhero play, for some reason it seldom became an issue in my work. Yes, at times some boys (and occasionally some girls) would want to act out their favorite superhero in play. I always insisted that the superhero play followed our standard safety guidelines. If I felt a child perseverated too much on superhero play I would use some simple techniques such as integrating the play in some other activity, setting a specific time and/or time limit on the play, or re-direct the child’s interest towards a topic that was more relevant to the curriculum.
I guess I am saying that when I offered a developmentally appropriate and stimulating environment, the issue of a child spending too much time on superhero play became irrelevant.
One other issue to examine here would be to look at what social/emotional beneift the child is getting from this kind of play. Issues of low self-esteem, abusive or chaotic home environments, emotional disorder, and so forth can have an effect on this play. Children who have issues with control and power can find a level of satisfaction with taking on the persona of an all-powerful character. It is something to think about when deciding how much or how little superhero play you want to encourage.
Bruce S. Sheppard, M.T.S
Oregon Department of Education