How Superheroes Empower Kids

How Superheroes Empower Kids_v2 

*National Superhero Day is April 28th

“I believe there is a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, and makes us noble” – Aunt May, Spiderman

What is a superhero?

A superhero, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; an exceptionally skillful or successful person.

Benefits of Superhero Play

As kids, we all played some sort of make-believe, whether we were superheroes scaling buildings to save someone in distress or princesses protecting their family and fighting for their dreams.

This make-believe play allowed us to be someone else: to be bigger, older, and stronger.

We were able to overcome obstacles we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to; we became fearless, courageous, and confident.

While many parents may disapprove of superheroes because of the action imagery, superheroes give kids a way to believe that they can achieve greatness and conquer their struggles just as their favorite superheroes do.

Pretending to be a superhero helps kids learn to see things from other people’s perspectives. It helps them form empathy and understanding, a skill highly correlated with success in adulthood.

It gives them an outlet for creativity and a chance to learn and investigate right versus wrong.

Putting on that symbolic cape and mask transforms that child into someone else: someone they believe to possess great confidence, strength, courage, and bravery.

As batman said, “I wear a mask, and that mask is not to hide who I am, but to create who I am.”

Children are dressing up as superheroes to give themselves the superpowers they need to conquer whatever struggles they may face.

One of the struggles that many superheroes faced and some kids unfortunately face is bullying. In superhero comic books and movies, we see superheroes stand up to their bullies.

Spiderman, a bookish teen called “puny Parker,” found the courage to stand up to his bullies and help others who were in the same situation.

Captain America, a scrawny asthmatic, was not afraid to stand up to bullies either. He is even quoted saying “I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they came from.”

The Huffington Post’s article, 12-Year-Old Bully Victim Who Was Inspired By Captain America Finally Gets to Meet His Hero, told the story of Troy Sandella, a young boy diagnosed with Functional Delay, who was attacked and beaten up by two bullies.

He is quoted telling his dad “Daddy, I kept getting up just like Captain America.”

Troy is just one example of kids who turned to superheroes for inspiration when faced with bullies.

The superhero costumes that kids put on, whether real or imaginary, give kids the confidence and courage to be brave and stand up for what is right.

“When you decide not to be afraid, you can find friends in super unexpected places.” – Ms. Marvel

Once you put aside the action involved, you can see that many of these superheroes have countless positive characteristics that make them good role models for kids.

Captain America

Captain America represents the good in human beings. He has a sound moral center, always trying to do the right thing even when it may be difficult. Some even consider him a moral exemplar. Staying true to himself, he doesn’t let the opinions of others sway his beliefs.

While some superheroes become conceited once they discover their powers, Captain America has been consistently modest, giving as much praise as he can to his team. His exceptional loyalty and commitment to his team is shown through his actions of constantly trying to protect them.

“So no matter what, I promise you, If you need us – If you need me – I’ll be there.” – Captain America

Spiderman

Spiderman, a top honors student and exceptional photographer, is one of the most relatable superheroes. He faces many of the normal adolescent struggles, but when he puts on his suit, he instantly gains more confidence and fights to protect the city.

His intelligence really shines through as one of his top qualities when he makes a suit that complements his other powers. Not only is he courageous in his battles, but he focuses on his mistakes and learns from them.

Black Widow

Black Widow, while she lacks superhuman powers, is an ideal superhero. Her intelligence is truly one of her greatest powers. Not only is she able to outsmart many of her enemies but she also outclasses many of the other superheroes. Her selflessness and team dedication are quite aspirational.

Superhero play also helps kids preserve at boring tasks and become more patient, both of which are linked to better SAT scores, grades, and social skills.

A study done in 2011 reported that preschoolers who wore superhero capes and believed they had special powers were 7 times more likely to have the patience to wait 20 minutes before receiving their snack.

The Wall Street Journal article, Superhero Costumes Come to Parents’ Rescue, discusses additional benefits from and studies on superhero costumes.

How You Can Help

While superhero play has many benefits, it is important that you take the time to talk with your child about some important aspects of superheroes.

After watching the movie or reading the book, ask your child why the superhero is a hero, and help them understand what makes someone a hero and what makes someone a villain. It is also important to discuss the differences between the real world and the fictional world.

Kids typically think of heroes only as fictional characters with superhuman powers. Share with your child some of your heroes and how they have inspired you.

It is essential to help your child understand that everyone can be a hero, no matter how old or how big.

Acts of heroism also don’t need to be grand or monumental, a small act of bravery or just a simple good deed are heroic.

“You’re going to make a difference. A lot of times it won’t be huge, it won’t be visible even. But it will matter just the same.” – Commissioner James Gordon, Batman

*This post was written by Caitlin, a member of the MarbleSpark team.*

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