Thinking back to your own childhood for a few moments will help empower you as a parent and connect with your child. So let’s take a trip down memory lane and see what comes up. Think back to when you were a child, who were your Heroes? Who did you look up to? They could be real people, fictional characters, current or from the past. As you start to turn the wheels and identify one, two, or three Heroes identify their characteristics and see what they have in common. When I think back as a child I remember having three different Heroes. I came to this conclusion after realizing these were characters that I obsessed about. My first was Annie, yes that is right little orphan Annie. I can still remember going to the theater with my mom to see the movie, and her telling me years later how she was amazed that I actually sat in my seat and watched the whole movie at 2 years old. The next BIG thing for me was Rainbow Bright. I of course had to have everything Rainbow Bright for a long time I am talking dolls, hair accessories, figurines, bed sheets, pajamas, Halloween costume, yep I had it. The next Hero I remember having was Catwoman. I was defiantly a little older then about 12 but Michelle Pfeiffer really got me. So let’s talk about their characteristics and what they have to do with who I am.
Little orphan Annie her character overcame great odds, was contagiously optimistic, compassionate, generous, strong, and had an intuitive sense of morality. Rainbow Bright was always putting work first using the colors of the rainbow to make our world brighter and our hearts lighter. Then there is Catwoman she lets her passion drive her, is witty, versatile, courageous, and of course wears great heals. These are all reflections of pieces who make up me and who I am today. Most of people who know me would probably use a lot of those characteristics to describe me.
When we identify characters or people in life as a Hero there is part of them that we see in ourselves that we want to make bigger and stronger. We are constantly seeing reflections of our self in the world weather that be something we like and admire or something we dislike it is all a reflection of our self.
Let’s link this to parenting and connecting with your child. As a parent when we embrace our Heroes and their characteristics you may notice yourself feeling more confident, proud, strong, and courageous. In fact, research has shown that even when we stand in what is called a superhero pose, think Superman feet wide, chest up and hands on hips. We alter the chemicals in our body releasing more testosterone which is associated with feelings of power and decreasing cortisol which is associated with stress and powerlessness (psychologytoday.com). Being confident and proud of our decisions and actions as a parent is no small task. Dan Siegel states “Our messy, human, parental responses give kids opportunities to deal with difficult situations and therefore develop new skills.” (Siegel, 2015) All Heroes overcome challenges, in fact it makes them stronger. In reality, “It doesn’t make you a bad parent if you do your best, and your child stays upset” (Siegel, 2015). As parents we are Heroes every day.
Connecting with your child. Just as we did as children our children have Heroes and characters that they love. So take a minute and identify what characteristics your child’s Hero has. Take note of what they like about them, why it makes them so ‘cool’. Their words, actions, and play usually tell you what they connect with. Are they brave and strong, are they fearless, optimistic, up for any challenge? When your child is role playing their favorite Hero they are taking on a character trait they want to empower. So, if you have a little Jedi at home and they are constantly ‘fighting’ change your perspective and notice they want to be brave, strong, fearless, and that no challenge is too great.