Heroes play an important role in a child’s development. They can be a source of inspiration and support as kids work to acquire for themselves the qualities that they admire in others.
These are some suggestions for how you can you help your children to pick worthy role models and learn from them.
Helping Your Kids Choose a Hero
1. Expect young kids to stick close to home. Small children are likely to regard the people they know best as hot stuff. Parents, teachers and baby sitters are likely candidates. Enjoy the adulation and live up to their trust.
2. Be prepared for peer influences among tweens. Around the middle school years, peer influences become stronger. From Beatle mania to Justin Bieber fever, this will be the age when many kids get attached to celebrity icons. Watch TV and listen to music together. Talk about the effects of advertising.
3. Welcome your teen’s independence. As your teen struggles to assert their own identity, they may become attracted to unconventional entertainment personalities and other figures. Respect their need to explore while looking out for their safety.
4. Talk about your own heroes. Share your own experiences. You and your kids may laugh about the outdated haircut on your old matinee idol and grow closer over family stories about the kind and courageous things your parents did when you were growing up.
5. Read great literature. Classic fiction is full of characters that deserve our esteem. Give your kids a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
6. Be a good role model. Your example will have a big impact on the kind of heroes your children choose. Use your powers for good.
Helping Your Kids Learn From Their Heroes
1. Accentuate the positive. Even if your child goes wild for a celebrity who seems famous for just being famous, you can find a bright side. Look into their background or charitable activities to discover hidden assets.
2. Examine the consequences of actions. Guide kids in making the connection between causes and results. Look at how much practice Olympic athletes and concert pianists need to succeed.
3. Encourage compassion. Superheroes and ordinary mortals all have their weaknesses and strengths. When the person your child idolizes gets caught up in a scandal or has a bad hair day, talk about the importance of learning from your mistakes.
4. Discuss media stories. Society today is saturated with advertising and celebrity news. Go online or watch TV with your kids. Discuss the role of the media and commercial pressures. Share your opinions and listen to your children’s concerns.
5. Point out every day heroes. Look around your own community and home for the small acts that are actually heroic. Maybe your school has an outstanding teacher who really knows how to communicate with kids. Ask your kids to describe what makes her special.
6. Offer targeted praise. Take advantage of the hold that heroes have over kids. You can reinforce positive behavior by noticing similarities between your child and the person they want to be like.
7. Discuss values. Most importantly, approach the subject of heroes as one part of a larger discussion about values. Your kids want and need your guidance to sort out the things they hear in the media and at school. Help keep them on the right path.
By looking up to people who set a good example, your child will have more opportunities to observe and emulate life choices that will increase their happiness and well being. Talk with your kids about the effects of celebrity culture and help them pick heroes who are notable for their good deeds.