Creative Child

Teaching Movies for Life’s Tough Dilemmas

by Erin J. Bernard

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The trouble:

Your third-grader is struggling to fit in. (Children who are shy or who have disabilities and delays are particularly vulnerable to peer rejection.) How to help your kid navigate social booby traps without meddling? 

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The flick to fix it:

Cue up “The Sandlot.” A ragtag bunch of kids joins forces to stand up to a cruel group of rivals. Along the way, they conquer giant slobbery dogs and a few key boyhood fears. On the surface, it’s a movie about backyard baseball, but this fantastic film also acknowledges a kid’s universal need to belong and to occasionally triumph despite the odds. 

The trouble:

Money is often an abstract for kids, but your fourth-grader’s taste for all things shiny and expensive has gotten out of hand. Birthday and holiday cash is gone in an instant, and you’ve grown weary of unending requests for the latest goods and gadgets. 

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The flick to fix it:

Impart a light lesson in money appreciation and the dangers of excess with a viewing of the original version of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” An eccentric candy maker invites five lucky children to tour his magical factory, where greed and selfishness usher in the demise of all save one — the impoverished yet abidingly generous Charlie Bucket, whose selflessness reaps him major rewards. 

Conflicts are bound to happen in life. We may as well, kick back, eat some popcorn and learn a lesson or two during that next family movie night.

Erin J. Bernard is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer from Portland, Oregon. Before becoming a writer, Erin worked as a nanny and an ESL classroom teacher. She taught English at a Montessori school in Mexico and then ran an after-school language program in South Korea. Erin is the editor of the parenting guide, “Instructions Not Included: A Pediatrician’s Prescription for Raising the Best Kids on the Block,” written by Irwin H. Berkowitz, MD.

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