How to Teach a Child to Become a Superhero

Superheroes.  Every child wants to be a Superhero.  Ask a child, “What does a Superhero do?” and you will hear everything from “save the day” to “help people” to “get the bad guys.”  These are good things, and Superheros are icons of goodness.

In a child’s eyes, that means doing the right thing.

The problem is, their whole life–all four years–has stressed “Do the right thing!”  A constant reminder of what to do, and what not to do, can often make children feel frustrated.  Even worse, feelings of not measuring up creep in.

I assume, right off the bat, that a child is filled with goodness.  And much more:

Kindness, check.

Helpfulness, check.

Bravery, check.

The check list goes on and on.

Whether or not these are true, a child lives up to our expectations. Knowing that a teacher thinks they measure up with all the “right stuff” is nothing short of a golden key, a free pass, and a warm blanket.

And that is the start of teaching a child to become a Superhero.

Positive affirmations slowly become part of everyday, like grains of sand collecting to make a sandcastle.  Then, the hard work begins– teaching children to overcome obstacles.  Resiliency and Persistence.  I become the cheerleader along the way.  “You can’t…yet.  But you can if you keep trying.”

“Yet” is a powerful word.

Remember The Little Engine That Could?  I think I can…I know I can…I can.

Now, children feel empowered.  Powerful.  They naturally want to spread their wings, or capes, and do good things.  Once their bucket is filled, they become bucket fillers, or Superheroes.

And what about the child who is angry or mean?  That is merely a layer of mud over gold.  Children aren’t born that way.  They’re golden at birth.  I just have to wash off the mud.  I know that they’re already filled with goodness.  Remember that checklist?  That makes it easy to wash away the anger.  I’m a champion of good, and so are children at heart.

We wrote picture stories about being Superheroes.  In doing so, it validated each child’s accomplishments.  Children decorated their stories and wore capes for a photo.

From the oldest:

To the youngest:

We are all Superheroes!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in behavior, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Imagination, Inspiration, Kindness, picture stories, self esteem, Teaching young children, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to How to Teach a Child to Become a Superhero

  1. L. Marie says:

    Love this Jennie. I can’t help thinking how appropriate this is with The Incredibles 2 debuting in the summer. Now kids will be able to see themselves in a superhero role.

  2. Very Powerful, Jennie.

  3. Dan Antion says:

    One simple word and a life of possibilities.

  4. Tina Frisco says:

    I love this line: ‘Once their bucket is filled, they become bucket fillers, or Superheroes.’ Receiving, giving, receiving, giving ~ the circle of a good and kind life. You’re wonderful, Jennie. You inspire me ❤

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Tina. That’s really how it goes; bucket filling, receiving and giving. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of that circle of life with children. Your words make my head and heart nod knowingly, and make me smile.

  5. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Jennie, this is wonderful!!!

  6. This packs a wallop, Jennie! ♥

  7. Yet is a powerful word 👌

  8. delphini510 says:

    A wonderful and inspiring post for us all. Teachers, parents, everyone dealing with children
    I do love the words..” They are golden at birth ” . Absolutely.
    Thanks Jennie

  9. Another inspiring post Jennie, such important lessons in a young child’s growth. Loved the photos.. All are Super Heroes .. And you are a Super Teacher!!!!… 🙂

  10. beetleypete says:

    This took me straight back to the original black and white Superman series in the 1950s. I am stood watching it, with one of our bath towels as a cape, and pretending to be able to fly, to catch the bad guys. Nice to see nothing has changed in sixty years.
    Bets wishes, Pete.

  11. kowkla123 says:

    toll, sehr anregend, KLaus

  12. “That is merely a layer of mud over gold.”
    Lovely visual…lovely application.

  13. I love this post, Jennie! I have often wondered how self esteem was built and now I know. You are a super hero in your own way. A Super Teacher! Wish they could clone you. As your students grow into adulthood, I’m betting you are seeing some amazing young people ready to make the world better from a place of real strength.

    • Jennie says:

      The only way to teach self esteem is to believe in children, and they will believe in themselves. You hit the nail on the head, Marlene. Thanks so much for reading, enjoying, and commenting. Your kind words are always the best! And, I do see children years later down the road. They visit and have great memories. My next blog post will be on one such child, now in grad school. It is wonderful to see what they have become! 🙂

  14. reocochran says:

    You really create a supportive environment, Jennie! Hopefully, your students have plenty of “Shine!” ✨ (under the “mud”) given by their parents already.
    I do know busy parents tend to forget to listen or use positive words, at times. . . 💕

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks so much, Robin. They do have shine, and I do have to occasionally wash off the mud. Ha! Busy parents need as much guidance as the children. Listening is so important. 🙂

  15. Every year, we have a unit called “From Zero to Hero” which is about superheroes, in all shapes and sizes. My students made comics on the topic. Love this empowering idea.

  16. sjhigbee says:

    What a wonderful, wise person you are – I wish we could bottle you and pour your inspiration all through Reception classrooms throughout the world…

  17. This is so wonderful Jennie, I just wish we could clone you about a million times, for all the little children in the world. I know there are many wonderful teachers out there, including my own twin sister, but you are, indeed, rare. Thank you, Karen

  18. Aw, how adorably wonderful!

  19. You have a wonderful way of making children feel special and setting them on the right path, Jennie.

  20. A lesson for us all Jennie… not just for children.. as always a terrific post. x

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  22. Jennie, this is purely marvelous. A good lesson for the adults too! Maybe this is not 100% relevant, but I thought of this video right away. Stand like a superhero for 2 minutes a day. Here we come to save the day!
    Hugs on the wing!

    • Jennie says:

      Many thanks, Teagan! Yes, good for adults. We can get there much more easily if we have these roots in childhood. A great video- Amy is right. Hugs to you! 🙂

  23. Bernadette says:

    Wonderful post and teaching Jennie. All children should grow up knowing they can pull out their cape and be the superhero of their own lives.

  24. PaulAndruss says:

    Jennie a lovely lovely post…. I kept thinking of Aristotle — ‘Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.’ You are so right to give children the confidence that their natural impulse to love and Trust is not weakness could change the world.

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, Paul (and Aristotle’s words), as that is how young children truly are. Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      • PaulAndruss says:

        I did Jennie, we need to keep positivity and inclusivity alive in children for as long as possible, It is our species only hope. Pxx

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, we do! Children are our future. They are “us”, down the road. Helping shape them with positivity and more makes all the difference in the world. I know that first hand. Thanks so much, Paul. 🙂

  25. Annika Perry says:

    It really is that simple to be a superhero!! Wonderful post, Jennie – you inspire not only your students but us all too! I love how ‘friends’ feature in all their work, playing together, sharing, hugging. They have their priorities right and long may it be so! 😃

  26. Norah says:

    Jennie, this is so lovely. Of course, I agree with “yet”. There’s power in that word. And “The Little Engine that Could” is a favourite story, from as far back as my childhood. I love the children’s recognition of the superhero in themselves. Kindness and helping others is what being a superhero is all about. You bring out the best in children – scrape away the mud to find the gold. That’s worth getting one’s hands muddy for.

  27. jjspina says:

    I love this, Jennie! My grandson loves Superheroes and thinks of himself as one. I encourage him to be good, listen to me and his parents, and be kind. He is extraordinarily kind to me. He knows that Mimi (me) can’t sit too long on the floor, getting up is hard, back hurts and knees aren’t what they used to be at almost 70. He tells me to rest and sit on the couch while he plays in front of me and I can watch him. So sweet! I love this little guy so much! I babysit twice a week. He is kind and considerate at all times. He is my superhero! Hugs xx

  28. Wonderful project, Jennie!

  29. Erika says:

    I love this! ❤

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  31. One of my most favorite duties at the bookstore is cashiering on days when kids come in dressed up as superheroes. I always address the child AS the superhero…”Why thank you, Batman, for making the world a safer place…” I think treating a child who is pretending to be someone or something better than average deserves recognition for the effort. It teaches them that “wearing the uniform” is part of the respect, and doing the job, standing for principles is another part of it…

    • Jennie says:

      Yes. YES! You get it, KC. You are giving children the recognition and validation they need when they’re dressed as superhero’s. It doesn’t have to be a lot of fanfare, just honest recognition and respect. That goes a long, long way. Thank YOU!

  32. Ritu says:

    Oh I love this idea Jennie! I may just magpie it!!!!

  33. Love the wisdom and kindness in this post, and the power of ‘yet.’ If only every child could be seen as ‘good’ by those who surround them, what a great start in life it would be!

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