Symbols of action hero favorites decorate shirts and pajamas, wallpaper and sheets. Heroes are huge with kids…both small and of the grown-up variety. A “hero” is anyone worthy of being respected and honored for his or her courage, noble exploits or outstanding qualities. On a TV screen or through a child at play cartoon characters and fictional action-figure heroes routinely exhibit great courage. But the contrived and scripted stages on which they act are so artificial their actions are usually of little value in guiding the real world behavior of kids. Children, though, don’t always draw this distinction clearly. So, it is a wise parent who builds “thought bridges” across which these heroic actions of fantasy champions can be translated into real life principles and acts a child can imitate on the stages of their own family, school, community and social relationships.
Use questions like these to help you and your children notice and value everyday heroes and heroics:
After you have watched a hero perform in a game, a movie, on a TV show, or in a newspaper or news report, ask:
- What do you think he/she was thinking at that moment?
- What is the lesson to be learned from what happened?
- What would prevent me from doing the same thing?
When a friend, neighbor or family member does something “heroic” (selfless, of true value and worthy of emulation), ask:
- How can I/we best applaud and truly appreciate what this person has done? (Imitation is the highest form of flattery.)
- Is jealousy or rivalry coloring the value of this act?
When your “hero” fails to perform, ask:
- Should this failure or mistake change my “hero’s” status?
- Did my hero have the character to express regret/apologize?