Getting past the Superhero and Princess play

This is a follow up on the pretend play post to yesterdays: Getting past superheros and princesses



Photo credit: Dalla*

What to do?

React and get rid of all commercial pretend play dressing up clothes
I don’t think this would teach them anything but to covet and long for these items even more.
Limit the amount of play with commercial dressing up clothes from licensed products
This I now do more intentionally. Those items just disappear from their boxes for a time and the drs, vets, jesters,firemen, king costumes etc that are now lurking at the bottom get an air out and play. Yes they do ask me where their other costumes have gone with worried faces. They are old enough and used to rotation of toys that they understand that they will be back. They do come back.
Introduce pretend play ideas
It is never too late, in my opinion to introduce fun and new ways to play. You can turn a child’s fascination and joy into another direction by showing them new ways. Now they may not want to do or continue to do what you suggest but the willingness of you to suggest and play with themĀ  usually is enough for them to give it a try out.

You have to get into it and really go with your best acting skills. Your child knows you so knows when you’re being half-hearted, as we know with them. Bluff and enthusiasm covers so much doubt and our feelings of inadequacy as parents. They don’t care that your voice is off key or that your costume is lame or your story making needs more structure…………we cripple ourselves with that worry. They love the interaction.

Here’s what I am going to try

  • Note 3 books that they love in the next week that are not to do with a superhero, which shouldn’t be too difficult given that less than 3% of our books are like that.
  • Think about the characters in those stories
  • Think about what I have around the house that I could use for the characters. With these 3 rules. Everyday items, keep it simple and easy to reproduce again.
  • When we/they read those books I’ll introduce my character with a new voice. Perhaps I’ll continue the story or go before the story.
  • Now since it’s not a mum show I’ll ask lots of questions to get them into the story. “What will happen to him next?” Where should he go? How should she do that? show me where the secret house is located? Tell me what happens next…… gradually easing out of the story and letting them continue.

Now they have a framework of a story and how to get there from a common storybook to pretend playing in costume and role. It’s not my story and neither will I say, that’s not how it goes.

Other things to encourage a range of role playing pretend play ideas I wish I had done at the beginning

  • Added sheets, pillow cases and lengths of material to their boxes. Shown them how the green duvet is grass today and magic carpet tomorrow.
  • Bought some ends of materials with various textures or visited the charity shops for sheets, curtains, ropes.
  • Visit the charity shops and allowed them to browse with story telling in mind. That funny shaped cup could have held a secret. Bought unusual things to add to their box.
  • Discovered Sarah’s Silks
  • Encouraged any of the places we visited like the Parent coop and preschool to encourage dressing up as characters from stories. The only dress ups actively encouraged was Halloween. Kids did come all the time dressed up in wellies or other costumes but there wasn’t a special day like World book day or a specific broad theme, like the nativity that you couldn’t sneak a superhero costume in. Although I’m sure there were a few princess costumes doubling as angel costumes.
  • Read The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World

I do worry about their story telling abilities if they are left to play superheroes and princesses all the time.

As parents and carers we need to be active encouraging a range of play opportunities. I’m looking for ideas. How would you and how do you deal with the Superhero/Princess invasion into their pretend play.

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