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momofsix 12:07 PM 04-23-2010
I'm going crazy here! I have 2 brothers, ages 5 and 3. All they EVER want to do is play superheroes (x-men mainly), which of course involves fighting and weapons. All they talk about is superheroes--the shows they watch and the video games they play(at home they watch superhoroes and play marvel games on the x-box all night long), telling me different powers and suits each one has, and on and on and on...I know dad is very into this kind of stuff too, so it's his way of spending time with his boys.
This week we're doing a farm theme--they were excited for the new toys and farm stuff that i had out, and I even got down with them to model how to play with the farm, but after 5 minutes the cow and the pig were in a cosmic battle. Is this normal boy stuff? Since I know I'm not used to boys, I try to not be too critical, but this is really getting on my nerves. It feels like I'm telling them every 5 minutes "you may not play that here, save it for home"
So I'm just wondering if am I overreacting to normal boy play or. if not, any ideas how to get them to stay interested in ANYTHING else?
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Michael 12:17 PM 04-23-2010
Normal boy stuff is what it is. I use the playing of these games as leverage to get them to earn time on them. They will do anything to play them. Its called "gaming".
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Daycare Mommy 12:40 PM 04-23-2010
"...after 5 minutes the cow and the pig were in a cosmic battle."

LOL! I love it.

Sounds like normal boy stuff to me. My son is into vehicles BIG TIME with some Spider-man on the side. I'd just take that interest and incorporate it into teaching them. Like, "If Wolverine has 5 cookies and he gives 1 to Jubilee, how many does he have left?" or make and print out a memory game using some clip art of X-Men characters from the internet. I love it when they have interests I can play off of. It's just that much easier to lure them into learning.
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AfterSchoolMom 01:04 PM 04-23-2010
Absolutely normal boy stuff. My son spent a year wearing a Spiderman costume everywhere he went. He went around shooting invisible webs and drew pictures of spiderman for every school assignment. I sympathize with you because it CAN drive a person crazy, but I wouldn't discourage them from playing superheroes unless they're getting physical with one another or using inappropriate language.
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MN Mom 01:06 PM 04-23-2010
My son and dcb's are into x-men, spiderman..any Marvel super hero, they know all there is to know. The first couple months that is ALL they would talk about or play. Until one day...I put on the movie Ghostbusters for them. Now that is all they talk about and use in their imaginary play. That is just how boys are. Some phases last longer than others. I'm sure the next week or two (since the new Iron Man movie is comming out May 7th) the new talk will be Iron Man.

Back in the 30's - 70's(until Star Wars came out) it used to be Cowboys and Indians with full out gun battles at high noon! Boys will be boys, I always say!
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sahm2three 01:30 PM 04-23-2010
Yep, all sounds completely normal to me. I myself have two boys ages 8 and almost 4. They live and breath super heros. Ben 10 and Star Wars mostly. I have some DCB's that are into Bakugan. My poor daughter, she is surrounded by boys. I have only 1 DCG and 5 DCB's! LOL! The only time I really try to redirect their play is if three of them are playing and two of them team up and the third gets left out. I pretend like I saw bad guys or someone that needed saved and all three of them then go off as a team. Good luck, lol!
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GretasLittleFriends 01:38 PM 04-23-2010
Originally Posted by MN Mom:
Back in the 30's - 70's(until Star Wars came out) it used to be Cowboys and Indians with full out gun battles at high noon! Boys will be boys, I always say!
Don't forget about Cops & Robbers!! I think that was about the same era?

I have to giggle that you mention Star Wars. First film was released in what... 1977? The most recent was released in May '05. My son was born Sept 04, and is one of the biggest Star Wars geeks I know. He'd wear his Darth Vader suit EVERY day if I'd let him. I had to explain to him why it wasn't appropriate attire to wear to a first communion celebration a couple of weeks ago. He doesn't get violent with it though, and rarely does he turn his other toys into light sabers.

I have a set of brothers in my care, on the other hand, who are just turned 4 and 5 1/2. They often try to play karate or wrestle. Fortunately they typically keep the moves to each other, but they actually hit, punch, choke hold, etc. I remind them CONSTANTLY that we don't play like that at my house. "But Dad lets us at home, and he wrestles with us and lets us watch wrestling too. Why don't you let us watch wrestling, or power rangers, or Fighting?" Hmmm... you tell me why.
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Vesta 01:39 PM 04-23-2010
We're going through Teen Titans/"Inja" turtles/Batman at the moment.
Awhile back there was a big Power Ranger Hoopla, but everyone wanted to be the pink power ranger (I have no idea why).
We ended up with pink, magenta, fuschia, and rose power rangers.
It is kind of entertaining when they meld the mommy/daddy game with the super hero games.
"Mommy, spiderman took my cup"
My own DD6 got upset the other day and declared herself "Everything Girl", we then had "Everything Else Girl" and "Lots of other stuff Girl".
As long as they are not whacking at each other I let it go. Try to only intervene when they need help with color choices.
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MT Momma 08:52 PM 04-23-2010
I disagree!! that is absolutely NOT allowed at my house. My house, My rules!! At my house we do not play violent games. There are no guns, no hitting etc. I make this very clear from the beginning. I tell the kids right off the bat that is not allowed, and warn them that if it continues they will go to time-out. It usually only takes one or two timeouts and then I don't have to worry about it anymore. There is lots of other things the kids can play.
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originalkat 09:30 PM 04-23-2010
I dont know if you are THIS interested in exploring the topic...but there is a book that covers this topic in depth for early chilhood. It is $24.95 on Amazon. Heroes, villains, and saving the day!

For as long as there have been heroes and villains in our books, on our TVs, and in our everyday lives, children have been imitating them. Superhero play remains a wonderful, developmentally appropriate way for children to explore power, experience adventure, and investigate big questions about the world. At the same time, many adults are understandably troubled by the effect of media storylines, stereotypes, and violence on children's superhero play.

Magic Capes, Amazing Powers takes an in-depth look at why children are so strongly attracted to superhero and weapons play, examines the concerns of parents and teachers, and suggests practical solutions that take into account the needs of children and adults.
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QualiTcare 10:39 PM 04-23-2010
although i think it's completely normal, i absolutely think it should be discouraged, and i'll tell you why:

back in the day, my cousins, friends, and i would play with toy guns, knives, etc. all the time and it was no big deal.

this was also before kids started killing classmates at school.

i do think it's sad that we have to discourage that type of play because of a few bad apples, but with the zero tolerance policies in school - we just have to. i've never allowed my own children to play with guns or knives for this same reason, and when my daughter was FOUR years old - her daycare director told me that she made a comment about shooting everyone, and if she had said that at school then she would've been kicked out. she took it very seriously - which actually shocked me. i've worked with preschoolers and kindergarteners who have said things about shooting or played pretend with guns and although it's not allowed at school, i also have half of a brain - so i would just tell them they couldn't do that, explain why, and forget it.

point being - although i think that type of play is natural and i did it as a kid - i know there are lots of people out there like that daycare director who take it very seriously. i don't even let my children play with water guns. i've explained to them that they can get in big trouble at school for even talking about guns - and it's just the new reality. i think anyone who allows that type of play (even if they don't mind it themselves) is doing a disservice to the children because of the new fears and policies in schools regarding weapons - including the mention of them.
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QualiTcare 10:43 PM 04-23-2010
also - i know you didn't mention guns, but there's a very fine line....

in the daycare i used to work for, we had to discourage all play involving violence or weapons (even guns or "lasers" made from legos) but at the same time we took field trips to play...dun dun dun.....LASER TAG!

i mentioned to my director how contradictory this was. it was a problem with school age kids because when i saw them building "guns" they would say, "it's not a gun, it's a laser." that was hard to argue when we allowed them to play laser tag - especially when i knew they were flat out lying, and were actually building guns.
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QualiTcare 01:08 AM 04-24-2010
ok, i'm embarrassed that i'm talking to myself at this point, but i keep thinking of things related to this issue!

i had a professor once who said she had a problem with a boy in her class that was very aggressive with other children. he would flat out run up to them and body slam them which he thought was wonderful fun - even though the other child would be scared and crying. she said she had a conference with the boy's parents and come to find out- the boy's dad wrestled with him all the time! that was their way of playing/bonding (much like you said). my prof. said she explained to the dad that she understood what they did at home, but it was really affecting his ability to socialize and make friends at school. that seemed to help the problem.

that hit home with me because my son (2 at the time i heard this story) and my husband wrestled and played WAY too rough in my opinion all the time! i told my husband about it (and thanks to this thread, i'm going to have another conversation) because my son is almost 4 and he's very aggressive. he doesn't do it so much with me or other females because he's learned there is a difference (ok, call me sexist) but he would jump on me and beat the crap out of me, and it hurt! he does it with his sister as well - he'll run up to her and give her a "bear hug" and he's laughing his butt off while she's crying. he is really hurting her and he thinks he's playing and it's fun!

i can see how some would let it slide since the boys are siblings and the parents are okay with it - but you need to think about the future. they may not always be together (when they start school) and they need to know other methods of approaching and interacting with playmates. it's a tough call. i enjoy watching my husband and son play rough because they have so much fun, and i want my son to be tough, of course. on the other hand, i don't want him to think that is the normal way to play.

thanks for bringing this up.
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sahm2three 09:38 AM 04-24-2010
I completely and respectfully disagree. I don't think the pretend play has anything to do with kids killing classmates. I think there has to be rules, but I think that is quite a stretch. Now if we were talking about 12 and 13 year old boys doing this, maybe that would raise a red flag, but at least in my home we are talking about 3 to 8 year old boys! They are fighting aliens and bad guys! I have rules like no pointing the toys guns at eachother, no hitting with the lightsabers/swords. I didn't have guns and swords and etc in my home for a LONG time. Then I just came to the conclusion that boys with make guns and swords out of ANYTHING! I remember one day when my first son was about 3 or 4 and he ate his sandwich into the shape of a gun! Sticks are guns and swords. My kids (and I am teaching my dck's) know the difference between right and wrong, and real and pretend. So I am going to let them be kids and have fun! Guidance and love is what I am there for!
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nannyde 10:48 AM 04-24-2010
ANY time you have fixation you are going to have problems. With this kind of play you have fixation on some form of violence or conflict in their play. I don't allow it. It jacks them up and most of all limits their mind set to hyper frentic high level stimulation.

I want them to play nicely with each other and have the focus of their play be fairness, co-operation, calmness, consideration, etc. I don't want conflict play and I want them to EASILY go from one type of play to the other and be able to COPE with all different kinds of self entertainment play.

I would much rather they be building towers and forts with blocks, setting up elaborate train tracks and making engine lines, doing puzzles, playing with doll houses or etch a sketches. I'm not interested in crashing, smashing, dominance, winning, etc. The themes of this type of play aren't conducive IMHO of a multi level age group of kids playing with one another.

Nan
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Daycare Mommy 11:33 AM 04-24-2010
You can do superhero play without fighting, guns, or other weapons. I think it's a great springboard to talk about right and wrong, justice, bravery, etc. in addition to incorporating it in the other teaching we do (reading, math, science, etc.) like I mentioned in my post near the beginnning of this thread.

This is what we do over here. I put limitations on it. We don't hurt or "kill" anyone real or imaginary. The kids here are all on the same side. They chase, capture, and take to jail any imaginary "bad guys". These villains are sometimes completely imaginary and invisible, they could be a prop from their toys, or a piece of furniture (my couch was once a mighty dragon!) Their methods of capture have been lassos, ice, water (ex. when dealing with fiery enemies like dragons), fire (not to burn, but in a magic circle around to trap them), fast growing vines, trees, traps, other magic or powers, etc.

Now I'm not telling anyone here their way is wrong. My siblings and I played with toy guns and swords. We "fought" each other, had enormous amounts of fun, and have wonderful memories of it all. We knew the difference between time to play and roughhouse and time to be serious and respectful of people's space. If I did not have a daycare I might not have done anything different than my parents did. This is just the system that I use to keep the group working in harmony and still able to follow their imaginations in play since not all of the kids I've had over the years can draw the line keep it pretend and fun without the rules in place.
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AfterSchoolMom 12:22 PM 04-24-2010
Everyone keeps mentioning guns, knives, hitting, punching, wrestling... I agree that those things should be discouraged in a daycare setting. I don't think that playing superheroes is something to discourage at all. You CAN have one without the other.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, and normally I am very non confrontational, but...

I don't understand why society began making all of boys' natural outlets for normal "boy" feelings and behaviors taboo and encouraging nothing but fluffy fuzzy cuddle time. If you ask me, I think THAT is what has caused this shift to kids becoming violent at young ages. Just because a little boy likes to pretend that he's a superhero does not mean that he'll grow up and shoot people. As long as you are discouraging him from hitting or wrestling, if he wants to stage a battle between the pigs and the cows, where's the harm?
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Vesta 01:20 PM 04-24-2010
I've put more thought into the super hero thing.... it seems my kids never get too far past the planning stages. They spend most of their time discussing who gets to be what and getting their capes (old aprons) on. Usually their game involves running up and down the garden paths and striking poses.
If they do get into it, it's a lot of rescuing from sharks and such.

I cannot recall a time I've had a problem indoors, because I have a very strict no horseplay policy and just no, not inside. We save it for outside, which, weather permitting is usually a good 3 hours a day.

I don't like the kids playing guns and tell them no guns at my house, but wow the things that can be done with a thumb and index finger. Usually I just ignore it and teach the other kids to turn away from it, and the behavior is typically extinguished.

It does make me a little sad that so much of the make believe play is based on what they see on television and video games, but I don't control what they watch at home.
They don't watch television here, and I don't let them tell me television super hero stories when I take dictations, but that's about all the control I feel comfortable exerting on their imaginative play (outside of physically or emotionally hurting each other).
Hell, I've had some kids who I would have been thrilled if they could have pretended anything without my direct instruction.
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nannyde 01:31 PM 04-24-2010
Originally Posted by AfterSchoolMom:
Everyone keeps mentioning guns, knives, hitting, punching, wrestling... I agree that those things should be discouraged in a daycare setting. I don't think that playing superheroes is something to discourage at all. You CAN have one without the other.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, and normally I am very non confrontational, but...

I don't understand why society began making all of boys' natural outlets for normal "boy" feelings and behaviors taboo and encouraging nothing but fluffy fuzzy cuddle time. If you ask me, I think THAT is what has caused this shift to kids becoming violent at young ages. Just because a little boy likes to pretend that he's a superhero does not mean that he'll grow up and shoot people. As long as you are discouraging him from hitting or wrestling, if he wants to stage a battle between the pigs and the cows, where's the harm?
See the problem is what the OP said in the begining. These two YOUNG boys won't do anything else. It shows that they are completely unable to be creative in their play. They aren't well rounded they are fixated on this type of play. It's highly stimulating to crash, fight, dominate, battle, war, etc. but it's NOT stimulating to build a block castle. I want kids who can BUILD there immagination not copy and reinact aggression that they see and play on video games.

I don't care if it's normal or not. I don't want them doing that at my house. They can spend their evenings and weekends doing it but here I expect a much higher level of self entertainment. I don't want kids entire play to be copying the stuff they see on violent video games and cartoons. They don't just pick and choose the "good" acts of the superhero's and base their play on that. These guys are picking the fighting part of the superhero's and fixating their play solely on that.

ANY time you have kids only being able to play one thing one way it's a problem. It always escalates to some kind of hitting, fighting, fake fighting, etc.

There's a reason why video games are SO popular. They are the highest level of entertainment to a child that leads to the least possible amount of imagination and creativity. I want kids who create their own happiness here. Happiness THEY come up with not happiness they copy from tv or video games.

If they did this kind of play five percent of the time they were free playing or even ten percent that would be different. These kids will accept nothing short of THAT level of play with everything they touch. It shows clearly that they do not know how to play. They don't know how to take simple childhood toys and play with them in the spirit they are intended to be played with. They have to turn everything they touch into a reincactment of the fighting they see in video games and TV. It's time for them to BUILD with the blocks, spin the wheels on the cars, put the babies in the strollers, make a lunch out of the fake food, bead the strings with the beads, mold the play doh into spaghetti. etc. etc.
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Daycare Mommy 02:57 PM 04-24-2010
Originally Posted by nannyde:
See the problem is what the OP said in the begining. These two YOUNG boys won't do anything else. It shows that they are completely unable to be creative in their play. They aren't well rounded they are fixated on this type of play. It's highly stimulating to crash, fight, dominate, battle, war, etc. but it's NOT stimulating to build a block castle. I want kids who can BUILD there immagination not copy and reinact aggression that they see and play on video games.

I don't care if it's normal or not. I don't want them doing that at my house. They can spend their evenings and weekends doing it but here I expect a much higher level of self entertainment. I don't want kids entire play to be copying the stuff they see on violent video games and cartoons. They don't just pick and choose the "good" acts of the superhero's and base their play on that. These guys are picking the fighting part of the superhero's and fixating their play solely on that.

ANY time you have kids only being able to play one thing one way it's a problem. It always escalates to some kind of hitting, fighting, fake fighting, etc.

There's a reason why video games are SO popular. They are the highest level of entertainment to a child that leads to the least possible amount of imagination and creativity. I want kids who create their own happiness here. Happiness THEY come up with not happiness they copy from tv or video games.

If they did this kind of play five percent of the time they were free playing or even ten percent that would be different. These kids will accept nothing short of THAT level of play with everything they touch. It shows clearly that they do not know how to play. They don't know how to take simple childhood toys and play with them in the spirit they are intended to be played with. They have to turn everything they touch into a reincactment of the fighting they see in video games and TV. It's time for them to BUILD with the blocks, spin the wheels on the cars, put the babies in the strollers, make a lunch out of the fake food, bead the strings with the beads, mold the play doh into spaghetti. etc. etc.
Well can't the provider just lead them into expanding their play without complete redirection? "Hey guys! I see an army of evil book-eating robots marching on the horizon! Quick! Help me build a fort to protect our books and keep them out!" To deter violence you could tell them that the robots are invincible except that they will short out if they get wet. So some kids may grab cups from the housekeeping center to throw water on the robots and another kid may choose to be Storm from the X-Men and make it rain on the robots and save the day. Now we're building with blocks, conveying that books are important, and we can branch off and talk about rain/clouds/weather and recite Jack and Jill. Just a silly example, but you get the general idea though. And through reading related or semi-related books that can help shift the play in different directions as well. It's not that big a leap from superhero to heroic knights in fairy tales. Then bam, they are into books and that is one of the best gifts we can give these guys in their early years. Not just the ability to read, but a love of books.
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DBug 04:46 PM 04-24-2010
I like to try to channel my boys' superhero tendencies towards real-life hero scenarios -- fire fighters, doctors, police officers. It doesn't always work, but they are naturally more active and looking for excitement for a reason -- they're born protectors. Instead of focusing on there being a bad guy, I like to focus on how they can help someone. Like "Oh no! The climber is on fire, and someone is trapped! We have to help them!".
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Daycare Mommy 05:02 PM 04-24-2010
Originally Posted by DBug:
I like to try to channel my boys' superhero tendencies towards real-life hero scenarios -- fire fighters, doctors, police officers. It doesn't always work, but they are naturally more active and looking for excitement for a reason -- they're born protectors. Instead of focusing on there being a bad guy, I like to focus on how they can help someone. Like "Oh no! The climber is on fire, and someone is trapped! We have to help them!".
Excellent point and great ideas!
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AfterSchoolMom 05:32 PM 04-24-2010
I second that! I think that's a great way to look at it - the best of both worlds.
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QualiTcare 08:19 PM 04-24-2010
Originally Posted by sahm2three:
I completely and respectfully disagree. I don't think the pretend play has anything to do with kids killing classmates. I think there has to be rules, but I think that is quite a stretch. Now if we were talking about 12 and 13 year old boys doing this, maybe that would raise a red flag, but at least in my home we are talking about 3 to 8 year old boys! They are fighting aliens and bad guys! I have rules like no pointing the toys guns at eachother, no hitting with the lightsabers/swords. I didn't have guns and swords and etc in my home for a LONG time. Then I just came to the conclusion that boys with make guns and swords out of ANYTHING! I remember one day when my first son was about 3 or 4 and he ate his sandwich into the shape of a gun! Sticks are guns and swords. My kids (and I am teaching my dck's) know the difference between right and wrong, and real and pretend. So I am going to let them be kids and have fun! Guidance and love is what I am there for!
actually, i don't think we do disagree completely. i don't think pretend play has anything to do with killing classmates either. i DO think that allowing kids to play cops and robbers or superheroes (involving weapons like the OP mentioned) is not the best idea if these children go to school or will be going. even talking about weapons, or making a comment about shooting another child (yes, even when playing) is taken very seriously since school shootings started. it might be ridiculous, but it's reality.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapi...suspended.html

i'd be having water gun fights with my kids all the time if it were up to me. well, i guess it is up to me, but for me it's just not an option to allow any kind of talk or play about guns. even still, i got warned by my daughter's daycare director about the shooting comment she made. i was shocked, and come to find out - another child had said to her, "i'll shoot you and your mom," to which she replied, "i'll shoot everyone." they didn't tell me the part about the other child saying what he said - just told me my daughter "threatened" to bring a gun and shoot everyone. it was hard explaining to her why she couldn't talk about guns or shooting ever after that even though she's never been exposed to weapons real or play. i can't imagine how hard it would be to make a child who was allowed to play pretend with weapons to understand that they couldn't do it anymore.
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momofsix 12:42 PM 04-26-2010
Thank you SO much for all the advice. I think I'll try letting them play their "boy" things and try not to let it get to me But I think I'll limit some things. We talked today about what they thought would be appropriate guidelines for their superhero selves while they are here, and they agreed that no fighting real people and no weapons were good (although since some superheros almost are weapons themselves I'm not sure about how that one will play out!) I guess I'm still learning about the boy things!
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sahm2three 12:56 PM 04-26-2010
Today my superhero's were dressed in there hero getup and pushing baby strollers around and carrying diaper bags and holding baby dolls. It isn't always getting the bad guys! LOL!
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momofsix 12:59 PM 04-26-2010
Too cute! One time my dc boys were playing dinosaurs, and I had a girl that day too. She wanted to play with them, and about two minutes later the dinos were having a wedding!
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