Anyone reading/read Killing Monsters: Why Kids Need Superheroes, Bad Guys, and Imaginary Play (or something along those lines) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 12-18-2009, 03:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm having a mixed reaction to the book. On the one hand, it has helped me relax about my mild, sweet, darling 4yo boy suddenly fixating on weapons, bad guys, etc. I've wondered before about to what extent it's "safe" to try to steer his behavior when he's using his imagination. He's still almost always a gentle, reasonable, polite kid when interacting with others, so perhaps the fantasy play is serving its purpose. On the other hand, there were times when I felt the author was "boys will be boys"ing a little (though yes, he does discuss girls, and yes, girls might have the same interests as my boy) and sort of claiming that this or that was not harmful when I am still not so sure.

Full disclosure: I'm an only child with little exposure to the world of guys; my dad moved out when I was 11, and he was a violent man, so there is a part of me terrified that my son will be "bad." I'm also not a strong proponent of electronic media: we're very limited with screen time, and I'd like to hold off on video games and the like until DS is older or until I have had time to think things through more carefully.

Have you seen this book? What do you think?
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#2 of 14 Old 12-18-2009, 11:47 AM
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Hi! I haven't read the book, but wanted to let you know you might get more replies in the main Books, Music and Other Media forum.

I'm going to move your thread out there, so it will get more traffic and hopefully you will get somebody has read it.


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#3 of 14 Old 12-18-2009, 12:16 PM
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I haven't read (or even come across) that book, but it sounds like it might be inspired by Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth. The concept of the hero battling villains, and his own weaknesses, for victory is ubiquitous across cultures and through history. There are a lot of theories about the need for myth and storytelling and re-enactment, particularly about heroes and villains, to model and inspire social behaviour that is helpful to a culture.

I'm sorry that I can't comment on any details that author might offer in his book. I think you should follow your instincts about entertainment sources for your child. If you think it's important to avoid video games and limit screen time, you aren't alone!
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#4 of 14 Old 12-18-2009, 04:11 PM
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pepe i am sorry this is not what you are asking for but i had to write esp. as you wrote your background.

i have not read that book. i grew up with brothers and cousins. i was a tomboy and now my only dd is 7 but she has also grown up around boys.

i think there is some validity to boys will be boys and girls will be girls as well as their own personality.

i think its NOT one or the other. its a combination.

i have seen dd's boyfriends who have never been exposed to any kind of violence blow up toys and create guns and violence in their play. however her best friend is also a boy who is a total 'girl'. he just does not get along with other boys because he is nerdy. he totally isnt into superheroes or any of hte violence killing death games. he loves oceans and documentaries and baseball statistics. they are both 7 year olds. he does play baseball but does not really enjoy it.

and then take my dd. totally a boy. into superheroes. into bad guys and good guys. total spiderman fan. and yet a princess fan too. at 3 she was super princess spidergirl. so a combination. at 3 when she was trying to figure out about death because our cat miscarried and absorbed the kittens, dd made up these horribly violent games to figure out what was going on. terrible. i was shocked at what she could come up with from the air.

and so i have learnt - rather discovered, as i grow in parenting years as my dd gets older - that my attitudes and philosophies change.

one of the biggest disfavours we are doing our children is taking away any kind of violent play and even horsing around. that is a v. v. healthy way of getting their own aggression out. i see the impact horseplay and violent games have on my dd. i see what it did to me. i remember at one time i only wanted to be the bad guy so i could do the most pathetic dying scene. my ex does not do a lot of horsing around with my dd. but my friends dh thankfully does. and i see when dd has had a good wrestling match with him and his boys, it releases some stuff in her. she is a nicer kid without any tantrums. esp. for my dd who has anxieties and who is ubersensitive to things - i think violence has a huge part in their life.

i have never discouraged her violent play. neither has it turned her into a monster. i have not bought her guns. but how quick does a toy turn into a gun or bomb or sword. at 4 she questioned why we always kill of bad guys. she questioned death penalty. how can us killing bad guys be a good thing. you are doing hte same thing.

i think that's why as a parent its important that we look within us and find our own philosophies. read and listen a lot, but take whatever feels right for you. not on a superficial level. but a much deeper level. because that is what our kids need. not a blanket statement that 'this' is bad.

my dd in her 7 years has seen a LOT more and expereienced more stuff than a regular 7 year old here. it has definitely helped her gain her own perspective in life.

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#5 of 14 Old 12-19-2009, 02:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, all, and especially thanks to you, meemee.
You've given me a lot to think about and I appreciate it very much.

If anyone else is tempted to chime in but is not familiar with the book, PLEASE go ahead--I'm interested in its ideas, so I'd love to hear from anyone with a take on fantasy play, exposure to onscreen violence, bad guys, etc.
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#6 of 14 Old 12-19-2009, 12:21 PM
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I agree with meemee. To me the fact that he plays is very imporatnt because I so many children that don't know how to play. Play is a important part of learning. They can work out feeling and problem solving. So much of our learning and growing comes from play.

By the way. In Mothering mag there is an acticle about going outside to learn. No matter the weather. It really spoken to me and that is what we do. I got them outside and walk around and expore.

Mothering mag was from about a year ago.

Just my thoughts
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#7 of 14 Old 12-19-2009, 10:47 PM
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I'd be interested in hearing more about it. My ds is currently interested in fantasy and weapons. Urgh.

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#8 of 14 Old 02-09-2010, 12:59 PM
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I am not familar with the book but recently my mom forwarded me an article about 4 yos and fantasy play.

Our 4 yo DS is very into/concerned with bad guys, killing, guns, superheros/good guys right now. It is like it came out of no where.

DH is having a hard time with it, constantly correcting him, saying stuff like "we don't talk about killing in this house." I, on the other hand, just sort of nod and let DS rattle on about catching bad guys. I don't know that either of our reactions is right or wrong.

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#9 of 14 Old 02-11-2010, 10:10 PM
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Its not good to let your child be exposed to that kind of material at such a tender age. At a young age one should let their child be exposed to more positive material. Boys will be boys, yes that is true, but their are certain things that a child should learn. Whats bad and whats good. At a tender age if they are influenced by such negatives they will grow with that perception in their mind that its cool to be a bad guy. One surely does not want to be called in by a teacher one day complaining of your child behavior in class and his attitude towards other students, even at play.

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#10 of 14 Old 02-12-2010, 12:56 AM
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I'm not in sync with the majority of MDC on this particular topic. I have no issue with weapons play, aggressive play, rough-housing, etc. (as long as all parties are okay with it - "stop" means STOP). I let my kids watch screen violence that's not age appropriate, and my guideline for that is the child's comfort level. For ds1, that was pretty far out there. DD1 and ds2 have both seen all three of the original Star Wars movies, and all three LOTR movies. They're okay with that.

DS1 - almost 17 - is really into Spider-Man and has been since he was about 3 or 4. He also loved Power Rangers in their heyday. X-Men (cartoon). He goes and sees all the Marvel movies, and used to talk about ecoming a professional comic book illustrator (he probably could). He has a whole collection of plastic toy weapons (mostly swords, but also some battleaxes, knives and pitchforks) that has been growing since he was about 3 or 4, as well. He loves swords, especially. As a kid, many of his games involved being a ninja, a pirate, a knight, etc. and killing people.

I've been hearing aobut how kind, pleasant and respectful ds1 is since he was a kid. I hear it from teachers. I hear it from his friend's parents. I heard it from a parent who shared his cabin at Cub Camp. He's creative, imaginative, artistic, and mostly very gentle. He has three younger siblings, who climb on him, pester him, and occasionally hit him (ds2 has some impulse and aggression issues). The most I've ever seen him do is snap at them a little bit. He adores his little sister, and is a big fan of "cute" (stuffed animals, baby animals, babies, cute cartoon characters, whatever). He's had three steady girlfriends, one of whom lasted about a year, and has never crossed any lines with any of them, in terms of respecting their boundaries. He's still good friends with two of them. His only violent altercation in his life ended when he told the guy who jumped him to, "chill, dude - you don't wanna do this - go home and cool off", while blocking fists. (The guy in question had been going out with ds1's girlfriend and blamed ds1 for the breakup, and jumped him for "stealing [my] girlfriend". They were friends before and after.)

What I'm saying is that ds1 is the farthest thing from violent. It's just not the way he does things. He's pretty diplomatic, likes to smooth things over, and wants people to get along. He's been watching out for kids smaller and/or physically weaker than himself ever since he was old enough to understand that kids could be smaller or weaker. He still loves swords, wants to go back to Tae Kwon Do and watches movies that would make me puke.

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#11 of 14 Old 04-28-2010, 11:29 AM
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I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old (both boys). I've not read the book, but it sounds interesting. When DS1 was little, I definitely discouraged violent play and started out not allowing guns. Honestly, I think my bans stifled his ability to play - that is how he wanted to play, that is where his imagination was taking him, and mom said it was not OK, so he responded by just not playing.

I've since loosened up a lot. I don't want to say that this is the answer for everyont, but for us, it defintiely led to more creative play. My sons' favorite two games are still Star Wars and going on Bear/Zombie hunts (they pretend there are zombies hiding in the house, they try to find them, and when the zombies come, the shoot guns and throw bombs to defend their 'treehouse' (the bunk bed). I don't think either of them has any idea what a zombie is, except that it is something that eats brains.)

It is undoubtably violent, but I've noticed two things about the outcome of that play. 1) They feel so confident in themselves afterwards. They are proud of the fact that they were able to defend themselves and take care of themselves. If they were able to defend mom or dad, all the better. I think this is an important part of the process for them in learning to face their fears and realize that they are not helpless. 2) I am amazed at the childrens' ability to distinguish between make-believe and real life. Even the three year old differentiates between actions that are appropriate to take with a pretend zombie but not with friends.

Now, I tend to focus on listening to 'stop' and 'no'. It is OK to play the violent games, but if someone - anyone - who is playing wants out, we stop immediately.
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#12 of 14 Old 07-24-2010, 07:09 PM
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I think I need to read this book.

DS has been playing "Pirates of the Caribbean" with his father... and I nixed it. Too realistic with the sword killing real looking people at close range I think. He's been having some nightmares, although not specifically about this game. He plays a lot of video games but mostly the Lego ones, Crash, Sonic and other cartoon violence.

It's hard to know where to draw the line.
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#13 of 14 Old 07-25-2010, 01:41 AM
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Thank you Storm Bride. My son is only 11 y.o., but he seems to be having a similar experience.

Originally Posted by WorldsBestMom View Post
Its not good to let your child be exposed to that kind of material at such a tender age. At a young age one should let their child be exposed to more positive material. Boys will be boys, yes that is true, but their are certain things that a child should learn. Whats bad and whats good. At a tender age if they are influenced by such negatives they will grow with that perception in their mind that its cool to be a bad guy. One surely does not want to be called in by a teacher one day complaining of your child behavior in class and his attitude towards other students, even at play.
Can you please be specific about what you consider negative? I'm curious.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#14 of 14 Old 12-12-2011, 08:28 AM
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Can I revive this thread? I just asked about this book in the "Childhood Years" forum...


My almost-6yo is really into violent play. But he´s also very kind, loving, caring and sweet helper. But, he loves Ben 10 and can´t seem to get enough of these kids of games. 

Yesterday, a friend recomended the book, and I wanted to know if anyone has read it. 


Pepe, did you finish the book? How was it?



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