Role Models for Children – Why Do We Identify With Heroes?

Heroes are remembered and loved by many people for their great deeds and heroic actions. For many people’s heroes are the ideal hero or role models to follow. Heroes embody the best of human nature, overcoming adversity, struggling against evil, making an impact on the world, and working with minimal resources, but achieving great things. In literature, heroes are usually described as brave, self-sacrificing, and sometimes just plain old honest. Some literature portrays heroes as great writers, great athletes, or great artists.


A hero is usually a primary fictional character or an original character created by a writer for the purpose of presenting the adventures of the hero to the audience. Just like other previously only gender-specific words, a hero can be used to describe any gender, although hero usually only refers to girls. In popular culture, heroes are usually defined as ordinary, flawed humans with extraordinary traits that set them apart from the rest of the population. Many modern people identify with heroes because of their characteristics-such as bravery, honesty, and compassion-they possess that make them special. In literature, heroes are usually depicted as infallible, almost super-intelligent characters, very strong willed, and above all, they have great moral virtue.

The word “hero” itself comes from a Greek word meaning “a hero.” While this definition is widely accepted, it is not the only one. In many cultures, heroes can also be identified as demigods or supernatural beings. This can be compared to modern people’s concept of gods or superheroes. The word “social” can also be used as another way of describing what we consider to be heroes; individuals who are considered to be good examples for children to emulate.

In popular culture, heroes are usually depicted as the strong, capable, independent individuals who stand up for what they believe in. To children growing up with positive social expectations, heroes are role models who demonstrate strength, independence, and responsibility. Young boys love to see young women act out romantically with a hero; boys love to see their favorite sports teams play with heroes on television; and, most boys enjoy hearing about a new super hero being brought into their lives. All of these stories give young people an image of what heroes do, and give children a clear example of how to behave.

Not only do adults identify with heroes, but children also tend to identify with heroes-particularly those they admire. For instance, if young boys idolize Superman and his powers, or if they identify with Iron Man, they are likely to follow a hero. Children who idolize Disney characters may try to be like their heroes, and role models are likely to imitate heroes that they admire.

The only problem with identifying with a hero is that being a hero comes with some dangers. In order to overcome the potential dangers that come with heroes, children need to be shown characters that have overcome those potential dangers. That means that in addition to reading stories of heroic acts, children need to learn about realistic conflicts and challenges. It may take time, but heroes may eventually become a safe role model for children.

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