The Batman Effect

We recently wrote an article for ANLP International “Be More Batman”

In 2016 a scientific experiment referred to as the Batman effect was carried out by a professor and director of research at the Institute of Child Development, Dr Stephanie Carlson, this research made a big impression on me.  

Dr Carlson studies the management systems of the brain used in problem solving and finds ways to help children and young people strengthen these skills.   

During the Batman effect study the researchers sat 4-year-old children in front of a glass box, which contained a toy. They were then given a bunch of keys (none of which worked) and set the impossible task to find the right key to open the box so they could play with the toy. The researchers wanted to see how long the children would keep trying to open the box. To help the children they offered them a few different strategies to use, one of which was to pretend they were Batman; they even gave them a Batman cape.  

Interestingly researchers found that the children who pretended to be Batman were more flexible in their approach; they spent more time trying to open the box, they tried more keys, and they were calmer. These results intrigued me and set me thinking about how I could combine this research with my NLP and coaching skills to help children & young people to navigate challenges within the world around them.   

I began to adapt NLP tools specifically to use with children & young people incorporating the batman effect into my sessions, which produced fantastic results. These tools have now helped and continue to help thousands of our young clients both in 1-2-1 coaching sessions and group workshops with transformational results. They are now part of a tool kit at Happy Confident Kids that we teach coaches all over the world to support children and young people.  

“In less than twelve months I’ve made lots of changes in my life to put me on an amazing new path. Our workshops help children and young people to explore and challenge who they are, what they feel, how they communicate with the world around them, and to listen to their minds and bodies. These new life skills have had a huge impact on me and my family, and I’m so inspired to offer them to young people, and create amazing new opportunities for them!“
Happy Confident Kids Coach | In the Wild Leader – Luke 

Helping children and young people to gain new perspectives on situations can be incredibly powerful. Sometimes they can’t see how to navigate situations, the tools we have developed allow them to do so, teaching them skills for life.  

Supporting Teenagers  

A passion of mine and a culture embedded in Happy Confident kids is supporting as many children and young people as we can; enabling them to have the tools to be resilient and to access calm and confidence whenever they need. These skills are incredibly powerful for teenagers and especially support those that are having challenging times or have not been attending school due to high levels of anxiety. 

School attendance in senior schools is a huge issue across the country with the most recent Government figures showing that there are currently approximately 770,000 persistent school absentees in England; this number is continuing to rise. This is in part due to an increase in the emotional needs of young people. 

I regularly work two mornings a week in a local academy supporting young people, all funded by the academy, helping them to return to the classroom. The tools that I use in these sessions regularly incorporate the Batman effect and the results have been transformational. It’s been great to work with an academy that is so supportive of their students and open to new ways of thinking. 

“The feedback from these students has been overwhelmingly positive. They have not only thoroughly enjoyed their sessions but have also expressed, that the tools they’ve learned are different to anything they’ve had before. They feel that their anxiety has reduced from the very first session. 

Building emotional resilience is key, in supporting young people following the widespread impact of the pandemic. The Happy Confident Kids’ strategies are powerful, with immediate positive impact. As a result of the intervention, we have seen non-attenders return to school and students return to mainstream lessons. The increase in students’ confidence is palpable.” Academy Head of Safeguarding Team 
We have a core three-week coaching  programme for teens which our coaches use to support these clients, as other NLP coaches will know the results of using NLP can often be transformational very quickly.   

Case Study Supporting Client back to the classroom – Teen age 14 

The following case study shows practical use of the Batman effect with a client:  

A school approached me to support a girl who was really struggling with school attendance.  At the time she was incredibly low on confidence and experiencing high levels of anxiety; coupled with living in a very challenging family environment. 

As is the case for all our coaches, before the session I researched positive and popular role models for the client’s age group and printed pictures of these to be used in one of our activities; the activity in part discusses role models and experience has shown that this can be a great way to start conversations especially with teenagers.   

During this particular coaching session upon seeing one of the pictures my client instantly lit up. It was a picture of pop star Billie Eilish, who alongside being an iconic pop star has been involved in campaigns to empower teenagers to talk about mental health and an ambassador for the prevention of suicide (after her own personal journey) and is a trail blazer when it comes to promoting body positivity.  

I regularly refer to Billie in my sessions with young people and have found that finding current role models that they can relate to is a huge part of building client rapport and opening conversations. Billie makes an excellent Batman substitute to generate the Batman effect. With younger clients Bluey, Matilda and black panther are currently very popular.  

During my sessions with this client, I used a combination of Happy Confident Kids NLP tools and was able to help my client to tap into the “Billie Effect”. I used it to help her build her own confidence and self-esteem. Stepping into Billie’s shoes put a totally different perspective on things for my client, giving her the power to have important and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, to stand up for herself and put her own self-care as a priority which was a huge change for her.  

“Thank you for finally showing me how to feel calm again. I have never felt so calm without the help of music.”  

I have seen first hand the impact the sessions had with this client and her school attendance has also vastly improved with her now regularly attending lessons.   

Working closely with young people I have found that one of the most important areas when working with them is to help them to feel empowered (like their positive role models do), teaching them tools they can use themselves to help change their own state.  

It’s a huge privilege to be able support children & young people with these amazing NLP tools that equip them with transformational tools for life; with a focus on building confidence and emotional resilience.  

It’s our goal to help as many children and young people as possible if you would like to be on this journey with us please come say hello. 






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