With the majority of Aussie kids spending more than the recommended two hours per day looking at a screen, we’d say the more positives the better.

So, what can the humble movie really teach our kids?
Child and Educational Psychologist Andrew Greenfield shares the real lessons our kids can learn from a bit of screen time.

THE LESSONS LEARNT

Take the Grinch for example, while it’s a Christmas movie, the key themes of The Grinch extend themselves beyond the festive season, celebrating all that is good about generosity and kindness and all that is bad about self-centeredness and egocentricity.

As the movie plays out you see the famous green Grinch transition from a spiteful, sorrowful character to a cheerful member of the community with a new-found sense of belonging. This transition represents important lessons about inclusion and generosity, especially at a time that most children associate with receiving.

THE BENEFITS OF GENEROSITY AND KINDNESS
So, what are the benefits of children seeing a positive example and outcome of generosity and kindness, and how can this help in their personal development?

Greenfield argues that a positive example shown through a medium and storyline they can understand, can be beneficial in helping children to identify positive personal characteristics and actions and the impact they can have on themselves and others. “Children learn most of these skills from their parents but it is undoubtably beneficial to have a third party, who they are engaged with, reinforcing these messages in an entertaining way,” says Greenfield.

Studies suggest that the ‘warm glow’ that often follows the act of giving may be observed at a very early stage in a child’s development demonstrating that even at a young age, children can experience an increased sense of happiness as a result of a positive act. Kindness and generosity also help to improve a child’s self-esteem, with Greenfield explaining that children experience a ‘helper’s high’ when they do a good deed leading to an increased sense of pride and well-being and in turn self-esteem.

“Along with increased happiness and self-esteem, generosity and giving to others in particular helps to establish a sense of gratitude. By helping others, children begin to develop perspective on their situation verse others’, helping them to identify and appreciate the things the good things in their lives,” say Greenfield.

HOW TO TEACH YOUR KIDS
Taking the lessons learnt from The Grinch on the importance of generosity and kindness, Greenfield shares his tips on different approaches and methods to practice with your children:

• Demonstrate generosity yourself
Tell your child about efforts that you personally, or those that your workplace organizes to help out those in need. Share with your child the good feelings that you had in making that contribution happen.

• Practice small gestures
It is important to create small gestures to allow children to practice generosity and experience how it makes a positive impact on others and actually feels good. With repetition of these patterns, assisted by a parent, a child will start to see themselves as a generous person, and their actions will follow through.

• Act directly
While some children are naturally aware and generous, many are not. Like any other skill, generosity may need to be taught directly.

• Help them to establish a connection between doing good and feeling good
Open the door to generosity by making a connection they can understand. Help your child identify how they feel when they receive a gift and then ask for their help in making someone else feel like that.

• Managing self-centeredness
Although a difficult development trait, parents can assist children to manage egocentricity by practicing small amounts of disappointment. For example, every time you step into a store, they may expect that they are going to get a treat. Help your child learn to manage small amounts of disappointment by giving them a job to be your helper in the store.

• Phrasing is everything
Using positive language such as “yes” or “I understand that…” during the learning process will help your child to stay engaged and feel supported. Try to empathise with them and praise positive behaviour, while steering clear of negative language and tone.

The Grinch is yours to own on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Wednesday, 20 March.

Share your comments below

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  • This is great to read and quite helpful. KI will continue using the ones I know and start trying to use the other ways I wasn’t aware of.

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  • We just saw the Lego Movie 2 and my kids (who fight a lot) totally missed the point of the movie – it’s about siblings getting along. Once we deconstructed it and talked about it, they’ve been a little better…

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  • We took the children to the movie “Frozen” which they enjoyed. The youngest kid was only 15 months old. They had Mickey Mouse on first and we were a little surprised that he laughed all the way through it. He got a bit restless before “Frozen” finished but he was tired by then.

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  • There are some really good messages out there – you need to talk about them with your kids so they can really understand them!

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  • Same for shows there are some great ones and some less good.

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  • Yes, think it’s very important to look at the content of what our kids watch. I love a good kids movie with a message of love kindness forgiveness and generousity


    • I agree – these types of movies are a good introduction to movies and teach such good lessons.

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  • Some movies are of course good tools for teaching children life lessons and some movies are best avoided.

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  • Some really great information to take on board its not about the message but about delivery that can really change their view in life

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  • I love discussing movies with my teenage daughter and comparing views.

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  • Kids movies are the best, some of them have great messaging these days.

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  • I would agree with this. I watched a couple of movies with my 2 1/2 year old grandson recently and the things he picked up on were amazing. He identified and empathised with emotions, he recognised naughty things and good things. They really do pick up on things you don’t always expect them too

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  • Most kids movies have excellent messages for the kids watching.

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  • It really depends on the movie. Some are better than others.

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  • I love that kids movies often have an underlying message in there, and although some of the younger kids may not understand it, you can always engage them in a conversation and explain it to them using the movie as an example to help them

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  • Most kids movies have an underlying message. Although most kids probably wouldn’t grasp what the movies trying to say.

    Reply

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