When I was teaching 9th grade English, we used to study a unit on heroes. To kick it off, we usually talked about who our favorite hero was and why. After all this time and all the answers I’ve heard to the question, one kid’s hero still stands out in my mind. “Spiderman,” he said. And this was after the 3rd Tobey Maguire Spidey flick.
Why Spiderman? “Because he’s the only comic book hero who has to struggle to pay rent. He’s real.” While I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of all comics ever and can’t really say if that’s technically true, that kid was definitely onto to something.
Peter Parker’s transition from awkward high schooler to superhero is what makes him easily relatable for all the kids out there who feel like they don’t really fit in, which is like 99% of everyone ever. As parents, we struggle all the time to teach kids how to find what’s special about them while doing the best we can to give them what they’ll need in life when we’re not around. What better teaching tool could there be than a kid just like them who grows comfortably into his own heroic skin while struggling with real problems like moral dilemmas, money, marriage and parenthood?
Grab a few Spidey comics, have a movie marathon, and use these various approaches to coax the hero out of your little Peter Parker.
Peter’s first love was always science. Setting kids up to find their academic groove will pay off enormously when they encounter increasingly specialized class choices in middle and high school and university, should they decide to take that route. Developing an early love for science will build academic confidence and shield against the social temptations of the high school warzone.
Start early with this one of a kind mad scientist alphabet block set. How cool is that? Steampunky and educational, little Peter will have no trouble falling in love with science as a toddler.
Of course, the best thing about science is experimenting. Pick up a kit like this one or Google a few experiments to do around the house with things you already have.
Photography and Journalism
Even though science is Peter’s passion, it seems that snapping photos for the Daily Bugle is what ends up paying his rent. If your junior Spidey isn’t super into science, try exposing them to the world of photography, journalism or both.
There are a ton of ways to approach journalism for kids from just journaling to more specific skill sets like vlogging and typography.
Of course, the easiest way to document life is to photograph it. Get a camera into that kid’s hands and see what happens. We wrote an article a while back talking about how to turn kids of all ages into shutterbugs.
An obvious wardrobe choice for little Peter Parkers in training would be a Spidey costume, but no one can be Spider Man all the time. That’s why there are adorable t-shirts like this one, highlighting your kid’s newfound love of the lens.
Getting the Look
As mentioned, Spider Man should have a costume for crime fighting. It’s pretty important for super heroes to keep their secret identities, you know, a secret. Besides protecting those they love from baddies who ALWAYS resort to kidnapping for some reason (how unoriginal, right?) keeping that real personae a secret keeps the hero grounded and humble. It also allows for all of those problems they gotta have like falling in love and keeping their day job, even though their boss is inevitably a huge jerk.
TL;DR: get your hands on a Spider Man costume but don’t forget the street clothes.
Peter always wears unassuming hoodies, jeans and sneakers, which we’re sure are already hanging around your little one’s closet in triplicate. But even if you’re trying to hide your little guy’s superhero identity, it’s ok to show a little Spidey pride with some custom painted Chuck Taylors.
Of course, the main thing to keep in mind when molding your little super hero is to help them build confidence in their own abilities and personality. Everything else will fall in line, and they’ll be able to tackle their future great responsibilities with ease.