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Pulling a power pose could help children feel more confident, new research has suggested.
Parents will often be looking for ways to instil some self-confidence into children, but simply changing their body posture could help kids lacking in confidence feel braver.
The study by psychologists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg and published in the journal School Psychology International found that simple poses can boost the self-confidence of students at school.
The researchers analysed the effects of changing poses on 108 fourth graders (aged 9 or 10). While one research group took up two open and expansive postures for one minute each, the other group posed with their arms folded in front of them and their heads down.
The children were then asked to complete a series of psychological tests.
Interestingly, the children who had previously assumed an open posture reported a better mood and higher self-esteem than the children who posed with their arms folded and head down.
“Body language is not just about expressing feelings, it can also shape how a person feels,” explains Robert Körner from the Institute of Psychology at MLU.
Researchers said the effects were particularly noticeable when it came to the children answering questions concerning school.
“Here, power posing had the strongest effect on the children's self-esteem,” Körner says.
He suggests teachers could try and see whether this method helps their students struggling with self-confidence.
But before we tell kids to pull their best superhero pose before heading into class, Körner is keen to manage expectations by pointing out the study limitations.
He explains that the effects shown in the research were only short-term, so any serious self-confidence problems or mental illness will need to be assessed and treated by trained professionals.
While it is the first study of its kind to examine children, the research findings are consistent with earlier findings on power posing.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy previously demonstrated that “power posing,” or holding a posture that appears confident even when you don’t actually feel that way, can have a positive effect inducing changes in hormones which could in turn lead to positive work outcomes such as successful pay rise talks and job interviews.
And it’s certainly good enough for Grey’s Anatomy character Amelia Shepherd. Before performing an operation, the surgeon takes a moment to pull her best superhero pose after discovering research suggesting that standing in superhero pose before a really hard task, makes you feel more confident.
While critics have questioned the science behind the theory of power posing, if you do have a child with self-confidence issues, can encouraging them to pull their best Superman or Wonder Woman pose really do any harm?