Empowering Kids to Be the Hero in Their Life Journey

What if instead of thinking of our lives as a random series of events, we thought of our lives as a story with each of us as the hero faced with challenges, triumphs and opportunities for growth?

What if we not only shared this concept with students, but taught them the power of seeing themselves at cause in their own lives, rather than functioning as a bystander or even worse as a victim?

Our role then as counselors becomes that of the guide who helps our young heroes in recognizing their potential to overcome obstacles and emerge victorious. Challenges then are not something to be avoided but rather something that helps us learn and grow.

For several years now, I’ve drawn inspiration (as well as received coaching) from Donald Miller who created the Storybrand framework as a way to become the story tellers and heroes of our own lives.

Here are ways that we can empower children to embrace their inner heroism:

Understanding the Hero’s Journey:

In the Storybrand framework, the hero is the central figure whose journey drives the narrative forward. The hero faces challenges, learns from mentors or guides, and ultimately transforms through their experiences. Similarly, in the journey of life, children are the heroes of their own stories, navigating obstacles and discovering their strengths along the way.

The Importance of Facing Challenges:

Challenges for all of us develop character and personal growth while building resilience. By confronting obstacles, children learn valuable lessons, develop problem-solving skills, and cultivate inner strength. Rather than viewing challenges as barriers, they become opportunities for transformation.

Characteristics of Story Characters:

Every story not only has a hero but a cast of at least three other characters.

  1. The Villain: Represents the obstacles, adversities, or negative influences that the hero must overcome. This could be anything from self-doubt and fear to external challenges such as bullying or academic struggles.
  2. The Guide: Mentors, guides, or supportive figures who provide guidance, wisdom, and encouragement to the hero. Guides could include parents, teachers, counselors, or even fictional characters from books and media.
  3. The Victim: Individuals who succumb to challenges without actively seeking solutions or taking control of their narrative. Victims often feel powerless and overwhelmed by circumstances, lacking the resilience and agency of heroes.

Strategies for Empowering Children as Heroes:

  1. Promote Self-Empowerment: Encourage children to see themselves as the protagonists of their own stories, capable of overcoming challenges and achieving their goals. Emphasize the power of mindset, resilience, and determination.
  2. Provide Role Models: Introduce children to stories of real-life heroes who have overcome adversity to achieve success. Highlight the qualities of perseverance, courage, and resilience demonstrated by these individuals.
  3. Teach Problem-Solving Skills: Equip children with practical strategies for facing challenges, such as breaking problems into smaller steps, seeking support from trusted adults, and maintaining a positive outlook.
  4. Celebrate Growth and Resilience: Recognize and celebrate children’s efforts and achievements, no matter how small. Emphasize the value of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Some Great Books on Real-Life Heroes:

  1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba This inspiring true story follows a young boy in Malawi who overcomes adversity by building a windmill to bring electricity to his village.
  2. Malala’s Magic Pencil” by Malala Yousafzai Based on the life of Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, this book tells the story of a young girl who bravely advocates for education and girls’ rights in the face of adversity.
  3. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson Follow the remarkable journey of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a young man from Ghana born with only one leg, who bicycles across his country to raise awareness about disability rights.
  4. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai This adaptation of Malala Yousafzai’s memoir is written for young readers and recounts her courageous fight for education and equality in Pakistan.

As we guide our young heroes on their journey of self-discovery and empowerment, let’s instill in them the belief that they have the power to shape their own narratives, overcome obstacles, and emerge as resilient, courageous individuals.

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