We all need heroes to inspire us to be the best selves we can be. As adults we call them role models, as kids we call them heroes.
An interesting research by a group of researchers from Tel Aviv university illustrated just how powerful hero power can be for our kids.
Remember the famous marshmallow research?
In short, in the 1960s, a Stanford professor named Walter Mischel began conducting a series of important psychological studies with children aged 4-5 years old. The logic is simple: You can eat one marshmallow now or, if you can wait, you get to eat two marshmallows later.
Later follow up with these kids reviled that the kids who could wait for the second marshmallow were more successful in life in many areas. This became a very famous study for its astonishing results.
The superman study I want to tell you about is actually a version the marshmallow study with a twist. It shows how believing in a hero can help us become that hero.
The basic set up in pretty much the same as the marshmallow study, but before the experimenter leaves the room he tells only some of the children “superman is a superhero, he has very special powers. He is a hero with lots of patience and he knows to wait really well” and then they were given a superman cape and told they can pretend to be superman.
These children were able to wait much longer for their chosen treat, then the other groups of children that were not given the superman analogy.
The researchers conclusion: “positive superhero figures that have characteristics children themselves want to have, can encourage children to adopt these characteristics and become behaviorally more like these superheroes”.
Kids need heroes to inspire their inner hero. It can be a real person a fictional one. Books are a great medium to do that and to introduce them to heroes, so they find one that appeals to them and helps them become the best self they aspire to be.
This amazing story I came across illustrates just that. Rocky a 5 year old boy saved his mom after a car accident inspired by the little engine that could : “Rocky crawled out from under his mother, wriggled through the window of the driver’s side and tried to pull her out. …. “I kept trying to dig my fingers into the ground and pull myself up by the roots of the grass,” Kelly recalls. “I didn’t think I could do it; it hurt so bad.” But Rocky kept reminding her about the overburdened locomotive that climbed a mountain in the story The Little Engine That Could, repeating the engine’s refrain, “I think I can, I think I can.”
He added his own: “You can do it, you can do it.”
I read this book to my children and they loved it! especially Ariel when he was 4.5 years old. Its message is as relevant today as when it was first published amazingly a century ago.
You can hear it being read under confidence category or look for other books that will inspire you child’s inner hero.
If you have a book that inspired your kids please write me, so I can share it too :)
Why Superman Can Wait: Cognitive Self-Transformation
in the Delay of Gratification Paradigm