Superheroes and Security
Besides having an awful lot of fun, what do preschoolers gain by being in a Superheroes or Princess class at Romp n’ Roll? The obvious answer is “the opportunity to exercise and enhance their imaginations.” But there is something else they achieve that may be less obvious but is equally if not more important. That is a sense of security.
Infants and toddlers are largely concerned with comfort. They want to be warm, clean, and well fed. But as they get older and their cognitive development progresses, children become painfully aware that they are very weak, little people in a very large and sometimes rather scary world.
While mothers and fathers can assuage their fears to a significant extent by providing plenty of love, care, and protection, the fact is that there is not much the children can do for themselves. At least not in reality. And that is where fantasy becomes critical for their mental health.
Pretending to be a superhero or a princess allows a preschooler to feel powerful and in control, even if it is only in the form of an ephemeral illusion. And these respites from their inevitable feelings of inferiority and helplessness go a long way toward reducing their psychological discomfort and giving them faith in and practice for the future when they will be genuinely big and strong.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.