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5 lessons your son can learn from superheroes

Boys love to play superhero games. Ask any young child who their favourite superhero is and they'll be quick to answer - Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, the Green Lantern, the Hulk... 

This makes gift-giving easy. Every superhero now comes complete with comics, movies, TV shows, figurines, costumes, electronic games, puzzles, plates, cups and clothing.

It's always a bit of a struggle to make sure you child doesn't become too obsessed with their superhero of choice. We've all seen little boys dressed up as their favourite superhero while grocery shopping accompanied by resigned parents who probably wish they'd never encouraged their kids with their new-found passion in the first place.

So what, if anything, should we do? Stage an intervention? Lure them away with bug catchers, new bikes and water pistols? Even children without the licensed merchandise will use towels, sheets and homemade masks to assist them with their superhero play.

It seems that we can all relax. Superhero play can benefit our kids. Relieved? We are too. The University of California at Berkeley has confirmed that superheroes are good for children.  Their study found that children who engaged in this sort of play developed better memories, problem-solving skills and ultimately better mental health.

I'm pretty sure the study wasn't sponsored by Marvel, the makers of Spiderman.

The researchers found pretend play is crucial and superhero play is the best kind.

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Most experts agree that superhero play is healthy for kids. Here's why:

1. Superheroes make children feel empowered

When children think up elaborate superhero games they are usually the superheroes and invent 'baddies' to battle. In these games they have the power to correct wrongs, to protect the innocent and acting them out makes them feel like they have control.

2. Superheroes teach children to have a sense of responsibility

Superheroes are good. They fight bad people. This instills in our children a strong sense of responsibility and clearly demonstrates the difference between right and wrong. Superheroes frequently put their own lives in danger to protect others.

3. Superheroes spark our children's imaginations

Any games children play which inspire their imaginations should be encouraged. Remember when you were little, how you'd spend hours, days and weeks inventing your own little world? This ability to create elaborate fantasies in with just their little minds is a beautiful thing and will help to use their minds in the most brilliant way which can benefit their play as well as their ability to learn.

4. Superheroes inspire physical games and activities

Any game that gets out kids outdoors is a good thing. Yes, they could stay glued to electronic superhero games but most children will be just as happy with costumes, pretend weapons or even old blankets and towels. They will practice spinning kicks, pretend to fly, mimic shooting webs and stop those bad guys in their tracks.

5. Superheroes help children to feel less scared of the unknown

Children's imaginations can also lead them down dark paths but those same minds can come up with scenarios where they protect themselves and save the day. If your child is afraid of the dark, remind them of those super powers that can protect them. They can even sleep with their costume nearby just in case they need it.

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Need more convincing? Here are some of our favourite superhero philosophies, which are repeated in associated books, movies, TV shows and all other forms of superhero merchandise.

"With great power comes great responsibility"

Spiderman, Marvel

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"Revenge won't make the pain go away"

Daredevil, Marvel

"People are afraid of what they don't understand"

Superman, DC Comics

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"A hero can be anyone"

Batman, DC Comics

"Don't give into fear. Fight it"

The Green Lantern, DC Comics

We'd love to see photos of your children dressed up as their favourite superhero. Send it to [email protected]

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