Geeky Homeschool: Six Character Building Lessons Kids Can Learn From Iron Man

So last week I posted the “Are Superheroes Bad Role Models For Kids?” post (click here to read), and it appears that in the child psychology world – where superheroes can be harmful role models – Iron Man got the worst rap.
Tony Stark’s irresponsible, disrespectful and man-whorish ways are seen as unforgivable sins that forever taint him as a positive role model for any young man, some say.
Now, as I said in last week’s post, I have no problem raising my kids on the comic book classics – Iron Man included. While it never hurts to be mindful that kids may be fixating on the WRONG qualities to idolize, I feel it is our jobs as parents to help point out the qualities and life lessons worth emulating in whatever media our children happen to be consuming. (Being wise, of course, to shield them from the downright vile and negative. No gangsta rap for baby Tessa!)
So in the face of a slew of child therapists saying Iron Man should be verboten in a child’s universe, I decided to fully illustrate my point and whip up a couple of character building lessons that kids can learn from Iron Man. Nudge those little minds in the right direction, and Tony Stark can be a healthy role model for kids, in all his flaws and triumphs.
Kids are smart, and I truly believe that with help from mum and dad, they can glean the life lessons worth learning with this recently deemed controversial superhero. It’s all about the parenting people, come on!


Character Building Lesson #1: You don’t have to be perfect to be a hero.

As Tony Stark is being interviewed by the press (who are relatively clueless that Iron Man IS Tony Stark), Stark rambles: “I’m just not the hero type. Clearly. With this laundry list of character defects, all the mistakes I’ve made, largely public.”
Tony Stark knows he’s not perfect. He’s got a lot of bad qualities. (Make sure your kids know which qualities are NOT worth emulating!) But just because Stark is not perfect, (and no one is) that does not mean he can’t accomplish great things. One of the most important lessons kids need to learn is that they should not strive for perfection, because that is an unattainable goal as finite beings.
The true beauty of heroism is that you, as an imperfect person, have the potential to do heroic things. Your imperfections and past mistakes don’t define you. You are hero material, just as you are.


Character Building Lesson #2: Always push yourself to greater and greater heights.

Tony Stark: “Okay, let’s see what this thing can do. What’s SR-71’s record?”
Jarvis: “The altitude record for fixed wing flight is 85,000 feet, sir.”
Tony Stark: “Records are made to be broken! Come on!”
Part of the reason Iron Man has such a captivating appeal to kids, is precisely that defiant spirit that child psychologists so dread. The innate desire to cross that forbidden line, to venture into the unknown, to break that unbreakable record – this is a rare power of childhood that if harnessed and channeled into the appropriate outlets, is simply awe-inspiring!
In the above scene, as Stark is barreling up through the sky, testing his limits and breaking a world record on a whim in his very first flight at Iron Man, he’s embodying the childlike spirit that says, “I can do anything!” And that’s not a bad thing!
Only those who strive for greatness can achieve greatness. When Iron Man is your role model, there is no excuse to say, ‘But it’s too hard.” “I can’t do that.” “So’n’so is way better than me at that, so why try?”


Character Building Lesson #3: If at first you don’t succeed , try and try again.

So your child takes Lesson #2 to heart. He tries with all his might and he fails. What then?
While most comic book movies have a “becoming a hero montage” that’s pretty inspiring, Iron Man has a series of engineering flops, failures and mistakes that are pretty hilarious.. and eye opening. They provide a dose of realism in a fantasy world that illustrates to children that you won’t always get it right. The road to success is paved with failures.
After the above scene from Lesson #2, even as Stark breaks the record, his suit freezes up from the atmospheric ice. He has a thrilling near death experience as his suit struggles to power up in time before he hits the ground, and in the finale scene of Iron Man, his solving of the icing problem is what inevitably saves the day.
Looking at the big picture, kids can learn that a failure is just another step toward success, and in fact, is an essential part of the journey to success. As Malcolm Forbes says, “Failure is success if we learn from it.”


Character Building Lesson #4: Never stop learning, growing and improving yourself.

Of all role models a young kid can choose, Iron Man -who had to WORK at educating himself, studying and being book smart – is a good one to have when it comes to encouraging your kids to focus on their school work!
While we’re introduced to Tony Stark when he’s already inherited his father’s business and achieved world fame as a science guru and engineering genius, evidence of his “never stop learning, growing and improving” attitude is everywhere.
A good example is in Iron Man’s armor. The original Mark I was built with a limited amount of supplies when Stark was held prisoner in a cave, and it worked pretty well. But he didn’t stop there. He built the Mark II, improving the suit’s flight capabilities and adding more features. (And the film gives plenty of imagery of late night studying and working to make that happen.) The suits keep evolving and in the latest film, the Mark XLII can be summoned remotely.
Tony Stark knows that there are always new ways to be better. While homework may not seem as exciting as, say, building a flying Iron Man suit, remind your children that you have to get the basics down as a firm foundation first.. I mean, Tony Stark had to!


Character Building Lesson #5: Never be afraid to do what is right.

One thing worth loving about Iron Man, is that he is not afraid to fight for what is right. When he realizes he no longer believes in his father’s mission for Stark Industries (indiscriminate weapons manufacturing), he declares a change. And he doesn’t hesitate to institute that change. Only stopping long enough to eat a cheeseburger, once stateside he gathers a press meeting to declare to the world that Stark Industries will no longer produce weapons.
This provides a great lesson for kids about integrity, social activism and standing up for what is right. Our decisions affect others, and even if we didn’t mean to hurt somebody with our actions or words, if we did, it’s our job to admit we were wrong and make it right.
Even if the “wrong” we’ve discovered isn’t our fault, once a hero finds a noble cause, he works to see justice done, and is not afraid to do what is right – no matter the cost.


Character Building Lesson #6: Never feel the need to hide who you are.

“I am Iron Man.”
That’s just about everyone’s favorite line in the first Iron Man movie, and for good reason. One thing that sets Tony Stark apart from every other superhero on planet earth, is his confidence in who he is and his desire to be open and to show the world his true face.
No pretending, no sneaking around, no acting one way with one crowd and another way with someone else.
Tony Stark is straightforward with the people who know and love him, which establishes trust. This is consistent with his actions earlier in the film when he sits down at his press conference and talks about his beliefs for the future of Stark Industries.
Good people are honest about their intentions, their plans and who they are. This sense of transparency and personal pride is one every parent should instill in their children. Don’t ever feel like you need to hide who you are!

Are there any character lessons I missed? Still think Iron Man is an irredeemable role model for kids? Share below!

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at or via the contact form on her website at

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at or via the contact form on her website at

11 thoughts on “Geeky Homeschool: Six Character Building Lessons Kids Can Learn From Iron Man

  • 3 April, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Very well done! I think for me, one of the biggest draws for Iron Man is knowing Robert Downey Jr.’s life story. For older kids, that could be a teaching point too. He grew up in a very unstable home & turned to drugs very young. He’s always been super talented, but he nearly lost his career, and possibly his life. When he finally kicked his addiction, he came back bigger, stronger and better than before. Older kids could take note that getting help when you need it, striving to better yourself personally, and fighting to get healthy make the actor as much a hero as the character he plays.

    • 13 April, 2014 at 3:12 am

      I remember when I had a crush on Robert Downey Jr after seeing him in Heart and Soul and you were like, “Yeah, but he’s a druggie” and I was sooooo sad. Now that he’s big I’m like, “I LOVED HIM BACK WHEN HE WAS IN REHAB SO THERE”

  • 3 April, 2014 at 8:39 am

    You forgot to add “he is hunky fine”

    • 13 April, 2014 at 3:13 am

      I can see how that would be a great character building quality… sexify yoself.

  • 4 April, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    I love this article. I think it’s great that you can look at so many different angles of a topic. o many people only want what they think, and exactly as they think too.

    • 13 April, 2014 at 3:14 am

      Glad you liked! I worked way harder on this post than I should have, lol

  • 30 April, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Good lessons to learn

  • 27 May, 2014 at 7:40 am

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  • 22 October, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Sacrifice. In Avengers he took the nuke into space without hesitation even knowing he likely wouldn’t come back.

  • 14 August, 2015 at 1:28 am

    This is awesome. I’m going to use the same lessons for my team at work. It’s all so true no matter how old one is.

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