Watching children whizzing around the house with a cape flapping behind them or dressed in an all-in-one Lycra outfit as they try to save the world, is a pretty typical sight for most parents. Superheroes have a special place in the hearts of youngsters and even when they grow up some can’t let go of their fantasy figures. Blockbuster superhero films continue to take millions at the box office, fans flock to conventions and even Dubai has a hugely anticipated Marvel Superheroes Theme Park under construction.
Many look up to superheroes as they fight evil and stand for good. As a kid, pretending to be a superhero can make you feel fearless, out of the ordinary and ultimately just plain good as you help people in need. Who doesn’t want to be an adored hero?
Without even realising it, acting as a superhero can help kids develop superpowers of their own to help them cope with the challenges of life. Being young can seem like a powerless time, and superheroes stand for more than just wearing pants on the outside of tights for kids. They represent justice and integrity; they defend the innocent and face their enemies even when the odds are stacked against them because it’s the right thing to do.
Celebrity life coach Sloan Sheridan-Williams says that superheroes are good role models for children because they are driven into action by the unjust nature of their society and their aim is to create a better future. ‘This inspires and motivates children to do what is right and stand up to that which adults class as bad influences or unacceptable behaviour,’ she explains. ‘Children can learn to stand up to bullies while realising that people who are purportedly mean are often living in the track of fear and are not as powerful as they may seem. Superhero culture also demonstrates to us that negative forces in our lives can be overcome with strength, determination, motivation and passion.’
The great thing about superheroes is that you don’t have to be born with special powers; plenty had help along the way. Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive arachnid; Batman got himself a protective bodysuit. Celebrity life coach Sloan says these characters are an example to children that superpowers are not essential to be a hero. ‘They prove that the power of the mind is the most important thing in determining success and a positive outcome,’ Sloan says. ‘Such self-determination and unshakable belief in oneself is all that a real hero needs rather than to be born with special gifts. This is also a lesson that no matter what their background or challenges they face, anything can be overcome if you’re focused and motivated to succeed.’ Thor gained his powers through merit, not from birth – it’s a mighty lesson in success.
Superman had to steer clear of Kryptonite and Iron Man had an electromagnet to stop shrapnel plunging into his heart but it didn’t stop either of them being strong. Even in the world of fantasy, no one is perfect and everyone has their weakness, even those on the pages of comic books. ‘With strength comes great responsibility but even the strongest superhero has flaws,’ celebrity life coach Sloan says. ‘This is an important lesson to children that the key to life is the need for balance and the fact that nobody is perfect.
‘Superheroes are special because they overcome severe challenges by shifting focus and changing their perception of a difficult situation, and this teaches young people to face their obstacles in a similar way.’ Superman doesn’t let his weakness define him and even when Kryptonite is used against him, he somehow manages to find a way to free himself and regain his strength. ‘Children can learn to make themselves as strong as possible but also realise that when ‘enemies’ do know your weakness, you have to shift your focus from the negative to the positive and build a network of allies,’ Sloan says.
‘It’s important that children learn who to trust when sharing weaknesses and to not let them define who they are or who they could be.’