Every kid grows up idolizing a superhero. For me it was Batman. I was in love with the city that he lives to protect–––Gotham, his trusty sidekick–––Robin, and even the villains he faced, my favourite being The Joker. Most of all I loved the fact that Batman was so relatable. He had no otherworldly powers whatsoever, just his brain, his billions and his brute strength. I thought that if Batman could defeat some nasty people with no real help, anyone has the potential to as well.
It’s obvious that not only Batman, but superheroes in general had a large impact on my life from childhood. Now though, as I enjoy the new movies and TV shows based on superheroes that come out–––I can’t help thinking about how hard it will be to introduce my potential children to them. It continuously crosses my mind how the market of superheroes for children is declining.
The kinda strange thing about the new wave of superhero movies/shows is that most of them totally aren't intended for kids. Sorry, kids.
— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) March 25, 2016
Those of us who read Batman, Superman and Avengers comics are no doubt stoked about the movies. Everyone wants to see something they love created in a different media. Though with children, what do they have to look forward to? The cinematic industry is always growing, always changing, and now they are shameless with their Rated R explicit superhero remakes.
I asked a child on Halloween why he dressed up as Captain America, since even in my small classroom of children, at least 40 percent were dressed up as a superhero. Oh, the answer I received, as he struck the unmistakable hero pose with fists at the ready and shield in hand…. he told me it was because: “Captain America kills all the bad guys”.
It’s this connection to violence and the concern that superheroes promote aggressive behaviour that has me as an Early Childhood Educator telling children they cannot play superheroes during outdoor play. Schools and childcare centres alike are discouraging children from hero play and in removing heroes from the classroom, they are missing what I believe to be a super sized teachable moment. Underneath a superhero’s flashy costume, state of the art weapons and fantasy powers, is an individual who is dedicating their life to helping others and standing up for what is right. I’m inclined to think that is an excellent concept for children to learn.
Preschool children are developing empathy and beginning to move away from a phase in child development called egocentrism. We see this concept at work when a child doesn’t want to share their toy or when they are what parents would describe as stubborn. These children are not simply being uncooperative; they are developing an understanding that there are perspectives other than their own.
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