Creative Child

Teaching Movies for Life’s Tough Dilemmas

By the start of elementary school, most children have already navigated their share of tricky social and moral dilemmas: Is it ever OK to leave somebody out? How should we deal with emotions like greed, jealousy, and disappointment? Must we share everything

Popping in a movie certainly won’t right the world’s stickiest moral fixes, but these films are fantastic starting points for beginning a conversation with your kids about ethics.


The trouble:

Your kindergartener has started to notice — and to comment on — the physical appearances of others, and his observations aren’t always kind. Sure, it’s normal for kids to note differences and even to point them out, but you’re worried the comments might hurt a friend’s or stranger’s feelings. 

The flick to fix it:

Try “Dumbo.” This classic animated film serves up a timeless lesson in seeing past appearances: a circus elephant is born with enormous ears and must learn to believe in himself despite constant teasing. Watch Dumbo rise to fame as the world’s first flying elephant, and talk with your child about the importance of looking beyond the physical. 

The trouble:

Coming in second (or third) is never fun, but your second-grader seems totally unable to cope with the disappointment of losing even during casual play. Board games, backyard sports, and competitions of any sort often devolve into crying sessions, and you’re tired of playing fixer. 


The flick to fix it:

Pop in “The Mighty Ducks.” Remind kids of the pitfalls of a winner-take-all mentality with this poignant sports movie: a sourpuss lawyer is tapped to coach a team of hockey rejects, and as they slowly advance to the playoffs, both coach and team learn some important lessons about how to win and lose gracefully.

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