In psychology circles, the ability to avoid distractions and stay focused on your goals and intentions is called perseverance. Some children learn this vital skill early, but for others, perseverance can be a lifelong challenge. Researchers recently studied children between the ages of 4 to 6 years old in order to measure how well they were able to stay on task when completing a "boring" activity. They discovered that the youngsters were better able to focus and resist distractions such as iPads when they were allowed to dress up as popular fictional characters, as part of a perseverance strategy called "self-distancing."
When kids think they're superheroes:
- Self-distancing involves shifting one’s focus to a third-person point of view and thinking of yourself from an outsider’s perspective.
- The researchers found that when that third-person POV meant adopting the costumed persona of Batman or Dora the Explorer, the children were less likely to succumb to immediate gratification, so they concentrated better on the assigned tasks.
- Researchers Rachel E. White, Emily O. Prager, and their colleagues published “The Batman Effect: Improving Perseverance in Young Children” in the journal Child Development in 2017.