Have you ever wondered why superheroes are so popular with children? Is it the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, shoot webs from your wrists and take down the bad guys? Or is it the cool costume?
Many think the clout is in the cape but I suggest the real power comes from the pose. You know the one – hands on hips, chest out, chin up. The pose that says, “I’ve got this! I can handle anything that comes my way.”
Science has now proven supportive brain chemicals are released through intentional body positioning. Amy Cuddy, a researcher at Harvard University, and her team have identified that holding a ‘high power’ body position for just two minutes can increase testosterone (boosting confidence) and decrease cortisol (reducing stress) by as much as 25%.
So that hands on hips, ‘Wonder Woman’ superhero pose literally signals the brain to release helpful hormones which increase belief in our ability to succeed. Happily this pose works for either gender.
Another ‘high power’ position is the ‘Victory’ pose – chin up, fists closed with hands thrown triumphantly in the air in the shape of the letter V.
This energizing stance is so innately wired into the human body that even people blind from birth make this gesture when winning.
Our actions do affect how we think and feel about ourselves. When stressed or anxious our body naturally tucks smaller to protect vital organs. ‘Low power’ positions involve folding the body, crossing arms or legs and taking up less space.
Conversely, deliberately holding ‘high power’, open and expansive postures benefit children and adults alike. Invite children to practice posing in the mirror before a big test or game. Encourage them to start the day with a big ‘V” stretch. By pre-loading positive emotions before facing every day stressful situations – from school to recitals, talks to sporting events – we improve the likelihood of success.
Power posing provides a two minute supercharge, potentially changing not only how children feel inside but how they are perceived as well.
As Amy Cuddy states in her TED Talk, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.”
Power poses may be just the stimulus needed to help your child soar…cape optional.