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Do you have to wrestle your kiddo out of a superhero costume on laundry day? According to a recent study, your little cosplayer is likely on the track to developing a real-life super power: the ability to persevere in the most boring of situations.

The "Batman Effect" was described in a 2016 report published in the journal Child Development, with the researchers discovering that young kids who pretend to impersonate a cool character stick to monotonous tasks for longer periods of time.

For the study, researchers asked 180 kids between the ages of 4 and 6 to complete a mundane but "important" task for 10 minutes. Before getting to work, the group was split into three with one bunch of kids instructed to do the job as themselves, one bunch to think of themselves in the third-person when doing the task and the final bunch told to think of themselves as a character like Batman or Dora the Explorer.

An outsider's perspective helps kids focus 

Across the board, the ones who thought of themselves as a cool character proved to have more focus.

"This research shows that taking an outsider's perspective on one's own behavior can improve perseverance in the face of entertaining distraction," say the study's authors in their analysis.

Although, predictably, the 4-year-old kids in the group had shorter attention spans than the older participants, even the little ones performed better when they pretended to be a character.

The researchers suggest this could be related to theories on self-distancing, which say disengaging from a situation can actually reduce susceptibility to temptations.

Just don't set your expectations too high: The 4-year-olds who were simply themselves stayed on task 20% of the time while the 4-year-olds in character were focused for 35% of the 10 minutes.

"What would Batman do?" 

Nonetheless, that's pretty cool news to parents who struggle to keep little ones focused—or, at least, by your side while navigating a busy grocery store. Next time, just ask them what Batman would do! (To truly replicate the research, you'll have to repeat this question every minute.)

Writing for Psychology Today, Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, offered some tips for how parents can do this without sounding like a researcher.

"Identify one of your child's favorite characters—make sure it's someone who is hard working, like Rapunzel. Then say, 'Pretend to be Rapunzel and do your work the same way Rapunzel would do it,'" Morin wrote.

"Check in on her periodically by asking, 'How's it going in there, Rapunzel?' You'll likely find she's able to perform better than usual," the social worker explained.

There is one big caveat: Because the children seemed to assume the traits of the characters they were impersonating, don't encourage your child to pretend to be, say, The Hulk if you don't want her to go around smashing things.

[Update, September 3, 2018: This post was originally published December 14, 2017. It has been updated to include more information and a link to Amy Morin's article for Psychology Today.]

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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