Even a superhero needs a little help sometimes

Kids can often idolize their parents like superheroes: Mind-readers and invincible. Sharing your vulnerability and how you overcome challenges with help can lead to greater resilience in children and teens.

By Monika Roots, MD

November 17, 2021

Superheroes

Have you ever stopped to think about what all superheroes have in common? They have all had to overcome a personal challenge. Spiderman lost his uncle, Captain America overcame ill health and Batman lost his parents. 

These were big changes and challenges for them and they had to figure out a way forward. They each ultimately used an adverse or negative event to learn new ways of coping. These new ways of copying showed up in their drive and passion for making a difference in the world. 

And you know what? Even though these superheroes have overcome challenges, they still have vulnerabilities and sometimes need help fighting battles. Think about their squad that supports them both physically and emotionally such as the Justice League, Avengers or the X-Men. 

Your little superhero may need some help, too, and they often look to their parents for that assistance. Parents are often seen as superheroes in the eyes of their children. They look up to you and also look to you to help solve their challenges and difficulties. However, we don’t always clue them into the challenges that we have overcome, our own vulnerabilities or imperfections, and the things we have done to overcome those challenges.

When you tell your child or teen how you overcame a challenge, it can help them learn to be more resourceful and resilient during tough times
. Think about the last challenge you had. Maybe it was an illness, losing a loved one, moving or losing a job. How did you overcome that challenge? What techniques did you learn or use to overcome the emotional toll that the event took? Telling your child or teen (in age appropriate language) of a time that you had a challenge and how you learned to overcome it has two immediate benefits:

So, just like superheroes, we can learn to identify a challenge, change how we think about that challenge, and explore ways of behaving or coping so we come out the other side stronger. Thinking like a superhero gives your child or teen confidence and a new perspective to help them develop. 

Challenges in life for your teen or child are not things you want to protect them from or shy away from. Instead, think of challenges as opportunities to learn new skills and support them in learning ways to make them stronger. Because even superheroes need help sometimes.

Citations

1. “Research without Barriers” Accessed November 2021 https://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/news/national/15895043.mums-dads-childrens-superheroes-poll-finds/

2. Burstein, M., & Ginsburg, G. S. (2010). The effect of parental modeling of anxious behaviors and cognitions in school-aged children: An experimental pilot study. Behaviour research and therapy, 48(6), 506-515.Drake, K. L., & Ginsburg, G. S. (2012).

3.Family factors in the development, treatment, and prevention of childhood anxiety disorders. Clinical child and family psychology review, 15(2), 144-162.

4. Wei, C., & Kendall, P. C. (2014). Parental involvement: Contribution to childhood anxiety and its treatment. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 17(4), 319-339.

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