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My 3.5-year-old son is obsessed with Spiderman comics, games and movies. He thinks he is Spiderman. He even has a 'girlfriend' in school whom he calls Mary Jane.

Is this normal? Or should I be concerned?

  • 15
    Normal? It's AWESOME. The kid is thinking big. – DA01 Jun 25 '12 at 14:52
  • It's normal, but show him the difference between real and life and fantasy... – kokbira Jun 25 '12 at 18:47
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My son is the same, as was I. It's pretty normal. So normal that when I showed up to daycare with my mouth duct taped shut (because Spider-man doesn't have a mouth), the social workers understood. The teachers still had to call them in- probably some kind of policy regarding duct tape on children's mouths- but it was more hilarious than anything else, apparently.

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This role playing is normal, common, and essential for skills building. In imaginative role play children get to practice dialog, politeness, meanness, being the authority (parent), and all sort of other social interactions they have been exposed to. They also will seek out and gain knowledge on the subject of their role play to enable it to be more fun and accurate.

Spiderman is pretty famous around our house as well. My son and nephews frequently play as Spiderman.

  1. If you are concerned that there is too much emphasis on Spiderman, first look at the media, TV shows, movies, commercials, coloring books, books, backpacks, shoes, etc. that he is exposed to and decide if Spiderman is over represented. Take appropriate action.
  2. Consider introducing other roles for your son to play. Firefighter, cook, construction worker... It is helpful if you can create an environment that supports the new roles. A fireman's hat, a toy kitchen (or some unbreakables from your own kitchen), if you have a sandbox prompt him to play construction, and since he already loves it and the movie is being heavily promoted you should find a Spiderman costume for him.

If you feel he is too obsessive, if his focus on Spiderman causes disruptions or inappropriate behavior, start by coaching him on when he is free to play Spiderman and when he shouldn't. If it persists as a problem after this, find local help to advise you; a teacher, or doctor, or counselor, etc. But remember not to stigmatize the play. Keep a positive tone about the play and have negative comments about inappropriate times. An example from another context: "I love your singing son, you are so good, but let's not sing at dinnertime."

Some resources:

Pretend Play: The Magical Benefits of Role Play

How Children Benefit From Role Play

Imaginative and pretend play

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Very worrying, Batman is way cooler. Every kid needs to be Batman.

But seriously, this is normal and will pass. We've had all of the Lego Ninjago characters, storm troopers, Darth Vader, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, several dinosaurs, Gruffalo, the list goes on.

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