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Does your child want to be a superhero?
Kanchan Maslekar
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June 29, 2006

Once upon a time, there used to be Superman, Spiderman and Batman. Now, we have our very own Indian superhero, Krrish, who leaps from skyscraper to skyscraper and runs at lighting speed in a bid to save the world.
Krrish is a huge hit with the kids. But, when your 4-year-old tries to emulate his favourite superhero's antics and hurts him/ herself in the process, it's no longer amusing.
That's why Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan, who essays the role of Krrish in the film, wrote an open letter to children asking them not to copy the stunts performed in the movie.

Drawing the line between idolising and imitating a superhero often becomes a cumbersome task for any parent.

'Parents need awareness, good sense and courage to help their children get the best from the media and steer clear of the dangers,' says Dr Benjamin Spock in his book Baby And Child Care: The One Essential Parenting Book.

Here is what you can do to help your young child have fun even as he/ she stays safe.

Talk to your kids

Banning superheroes is NOT the solution; this will only serve to increase a child's curiosity.

Instead, an open dialogue is the key, says Rani Shirodkar, a preschool teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience.

"When you see actors pretending to leap out of windows or jumping over speeding cars, explain to children why they shouldn't try the same thing at home. For instance, remind your child of how they got hurt when they stumbled down the stairs. That should be convincing enough," she says.

Children below the age of five must be accompanied by an adult when viewing superhero films. S/ he may have lots of questions, and this is the perfect opportunity to answer them.

Set some ground rules too. S/he can dress up like Krrish, or Superman, Spiderman, Batman or Shaktiman (an Indian television superhero who's another favourite with kids), wear a mask or attend a superhero theme party for fun. But s/he must do nothing to jeopardise his/ her safety.

Teach values

Rani adds that parents must refrain from glorifying superheroes. However, dismissing them completely will only confuse the child.

Instead, show children that superheroes are not special just because they are physically powerful. For instance, children must be made to understand that Superman is a hero not because he can fly but because he uses his powers to help those in need, and is kind and generous to others.

Peer group watch

"Keep an eye out for any child in your child's peer group who is overtly zealous about superheroes to the point of emulating them. If such is the case, ensure you explain to your child that he should not follow suit," says Anita Mahajan, principal of Eurokids (a chain of preschools in India), Pune.

Also, as far as possible, let your child plays with kids his/ her own age. Playing with older children can often confuse kids. "Older children have different ideas about what is exciting and about danger which should not be introduced to younger children prematurely," she says.

Learn more

Use the concept of superheroes as an opportunity to teach your child some general knowledge. For instance, Spiderman or a Batman could be used as a peg to help your child learn more about spiders and bats.

Distract your child

"A child's interest often lasts for a short span of time. However if s/he gets too obsessed, try distractions like a new toy or another children's film with no super heroes," advises Anita. You could also involve your child in a fun new activity.

Real life heroes

Anita adds that parents need to introduce real life heroes like Sachin Tendulkar, who have reached where they are due to their hard work, perseverance and ideology and not because they have some superpowers.

Do you have kids affected by superhero mania? Share your tips and experiences.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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