We started off last week talking about heroism with our Round Table Conference Ticket giveaway, but after looking back on that post I started to think about how heroism isn’t confined to age. Anyone any age can be a hero. So now would be the perfect time to start teaching heroism to our children, wouldn’t you think?
Phillip Zimbardo P.h.D., one of the speakers at the Hero Round Table Conference, also believes that heroism can be taught to children. He has recently started the HIP (Heroic Imagination Project) which follows a series of steps that he believes will help raise children to become heroes. During Zimbardo’s project, participants are taught to understand the darker side of human nature, learn empathy and study real hero’s.
Understanding Human Nature and Empathy
Depending on the age, teaching about the darker side of human nature can be tricky. There are many things I don’t really want my five year old to know. However, I do try and use situations that she has encountered to help teach her heroism. For example, when my daughter tells me about someone being mean or not letting her play with a toy, I always take the opportunity to talk to her about how the other child acted and how that made her feel. Teaching her to look at a situation, see what was wrong in it and give credibility to her feelings is a great first step. By stopping and recognizing our children’s feelings we are able to help encourage the growth of understanding and empathy.
Too many times in our present day and age, hero’s have been replaced by celebrities. Kids (and adults) worship them. We look up to them. . many times to only be let down in the end. But why? They are not hero’s. . what have they done? A great way to start teaching your kids to be a hero is to show them what a hero looks like. This can be done by using real life hero’s (like Martin Luther King) or fictional one’s (like Hugo). By replacing our children’s role models with heroic symbols we can help to spark the idea of heroism in them at a young age. Zimbardo believes that we need to replace the notion that heroism is reserved for only a select few and states that his programs “are designed to instill in the present generation – and in future ones – the notion of heroism not as something reserved for those rare individuals who do or achieve something extraordinary, but as a mindset or behavior possible for anyone who is capable of doing an extraordinary deed.”
This notion that “anyone can be a hero” is a powerful one. When beginning to teach young children about heroism a great place to start is with this mindset. Here is a book that I found that helps reiterate this thought in a kid friendly way. The book is called Hugo, the happy starfish, and the Last Bully.
This light-hearted book talks about how Hugo, a small little starfish, finds himself being bullied by the bigger fish in the sea. While Hugo is just a tiny starfish he decides to step up and take action. Hugo starts the first anti bullying club in the ocean. Throughout the story the bigger fish start to feel left out as all of the smaller fish are coming together to join the club. The “bully” fish realize that they can be much happier when they have a good attitude and show respect to others. In the end all of the fish are part of the anti bully club, even the “bully” fish who have had a change of heart due to the positive steps of Hugo. Even though Hugo was the smallest fish in the sea, he ended up having the biggest impact.
If you want to learn more about raising your kids to be hero’s check out the Round Table Conference on Heroism. Remember that you can still enter to win a ticket to the two day event on our blog at The Round Table Conference Giveaway.
Do you have any thoughts or stories you would like to share? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
<3 Dick and Jane
Disclosure: This is not a paid post, however I was provided with a free copy of the e-book mentioned above. All opinions are my own.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.