Posted in Emotion Regulation

Superhero Powers and Anxiety/Fear

Fears are common and normal in children (as long as they don’t interfere with functioning).  Check out this chart of common fears by age, originally posted on https://www.anxioustoddlers.com/worries-by-age/.

 

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The activity I’m about to describe can be used with children when the fear is considered “typical” and doesn’t interfere with normal life.  However, it can be helpful for children whose fear is more severe and is causing substantial problems at home or school, or when it’s considered a phobia or anxiety.

Most kids love superheroes, though in my experience boys are usually more interested than girls.  Most kids I have worked with see superheroes as invincible and not afraid of anything ever.  So it’s perfect to engage kiddos in thinking about how superheroes are not afraid of anything and to pretend they are superheroes in order to help them face their fears.  I even give kiddos a template of a cape and shield (on paper) and have them design their own cape and shield.

Kids will still need age-appropriate coping strategies to help them deal with anxiety, but thinking about superheroes can help them be brave when being exposed to what they are afraid of.

I had one boy who was terrified of ALL bugs and it was a struggle for him to spend even a few minutes outside at recess without having a meltdown.  When I talked to him about his favorite superhero (Superman!) and asked if that superhero would be afraid of ants, he actually giggled and said “no.”  He was able to make a cape and shield drawing, then put them up in his locker, so that when he went to put his shoes on to go outside for recess, it was a reminder for him to be brave (like Superman) when he saw bugs.

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