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From Spiderman to Mom: How Kids Choose Heroes

Talking to Kids About Heroes: Tips for Parents

Children see in heroes what they yearn to see in themselves: the ability to overcome weaknesses, fear, or insecurity, and be brave, courageous, and kind.

In our media culture, it's very easy for children to confuse celebrities with heroes. Parents need to help kids identify inspiring role models, without judging or condemning their choices. Here are some tips:

Talk about your own heroes. Who inspired you when you were a kid? Was it Hank Aaron, Anne Frank, or your third-grade teacher? Sharing your childhood heroes is a way of sharing your dreams, and revealing some of what you were like as a child. It's also a nice way to tell your son or daughter that it's great for them to have dreams of their own!

Don't pass judgment on your child's choice of a hero. You may prefer Rosa Parks to Britney Spears as your child's choice of a hero, but it isn't your choice to make. Better to emphasize the more positive attributes of the hero your child has chosen ("Britney has certainly worked very hard to become a good dancer.").

Give "high-fives" for heroics. Congratulate your child when you see her living out a value or using behavior that she associates with a particular hero ("Today in gymnastics you worked just as hard on that balance beam as Britney Spears worked on her moves when we saw her in concert." or "You showed a lot of courage, sticking up for your brother when he was being picked on. That's the kind of courage Dr. King showed when people he cared about were being badly treated.").

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