The Batman Effect refers to the finding that children perform better on a challenging task if they pretend to be someone else, such as Batman. Self-distancing helps them focus on the bigger picture. Thinking as a separate entity (someone other than oneself) can reduce anxiety. Even some famous actors and singers do this. Beyoncé, for example, uses Sasha Fierce.

'Sasha Fierce' allows her to perform with extra self-confidence and sensuality. She told Oprah, "Usually when I hear the chords, when I put on my stilettos, like the moment right before when you're nervous… then Sasha Fierce appears, and my posture and the way I speak and everything is different." It was a strategy that she continued to use until 2010, when she felt she had finally matured enough to avoid the psychological crutch.

Beyoncé is not the only one, a lot of celebrities have or have had alter egos. Lady Gaga, Eminem, Garth Brooks, Madonna, and Adele; just to name a few. The Batman Effect is very similar to this. Alter egos or alternative personalities allow celebrities to express themselves in a way that is different from their public persona. It's empowering for them, and it's empowering for children, too.

Related:Preparing Kids To Pass Tests When Distraction & Anxiety Overcome Them

How Is The Batman Effect Done?

superhero kids

It can sometimes be hard for children to stick with difficult tasks. They have a shorter attention span and less mental strength. Psychology Today says this is due to children growing up in a world of instant gratification through technology. They are easily bored when having to work on a longer task. The following strategies are a fun way to teach children perseverance, so you and others can count on them to follow through.

  • Choosing a character: Having children think of a hard-working character they connect with, like a superhero or a protagonist from their favorite book series.
  • Play dress-up: Parents can help children find items around the house to use as props for a costume. Make a mask out of a paper plate, for example. Maybe even wear an old Halloween costume.
  • Get Started: Once the child is in character, they can get started on whatever their task might be. A project for school, reading a few chapters in a book, even cleaning their room.
  • Checking in: Parents will want to check in on and encourage their superhero. Connect with them, "Is Batman doing a good job?" This helps to build their perseverance.

What Research Says About The Batman Effect

kid superhero costumes

When using the Batman Effect, children are essentially using a form of self-distancing. According to The Society for Research in Child Development children perform better on a challenging task if they pretend to be someone else, such as Batman, who would be good at the task. They persist longer on boring tasks as well as make better use of their executive functioning skills than children who think about themselves from a first-person perspective.

The self-distancing approach allows kids to reflect on their problems and think about them from different angles. It's like a mental space that separates them from the challenging task. They can now see it with less emotion. Taking the frustration and stress away from a moment or task could make almost anybody succeed at it. Therefore, having children adopt an alter ego is a powerful way to get them out from under the problem. They can then step away to reevaluate it.

The University of Minnesota did a study that showcased the perks of self-distancing. Looking at one's own situation from an outsider's perspective; on kids' perseverance. A group of six-year-olds and four-year-olds were asked to accomplish a recurring task for 10 minutes while having the choice to take breaks and play an enticing video game. Across both the age groups, kids using the Batman Effect (simulating a role model) dedicated most of the time to the recurring task. This was followed by a third person and eventually a first-person perspective.

Why Is Perseverance Important For Children?

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When children are given tasks that are new to them, like cutting with scissors, it may be a struggle for them. Sitting back and watching the child get frustrated trying to figure it out can be a struggle, too. Solving a problem on their own without an adult interfering is an important lesson, though. Children don't truly learn something when someone else does it for them. They can study how the person does it, but unless they can use trial and error, their own hands, and make mistakes; it doesn't really sink in. Yes, children typically need to try something more than once before they master it. This is where fostering perseverance pays off. It is what keeps them going back and trying again, and eventually succeeding.

All children are truly unique. It is important that they are treated as individuals. Children look to adults in their lives to guide them and teach them how to live and own their lives. Nothing is more important or meaningful than bringing up emotionally whole, healthy, and happy children. They are the future.

Sources: Oprah, Psychology Today, Society for Research in Child Development, University of Minnesota