Watching movies together with your kids can be incredibly rewarding. I’m not talking about popping a film on to keep them occupied while you finish off the ironing and keep half an eye on them. I’m talking about a big event. A treasured memory. Well invested familytime. I’m talking of course, about a movie night.
Making movie night a big deal
There are a couple of things you can do to make sure movie night is something special. One is to develop good general viewing habits, the other is one off preparations.
Develop good viewing habits: First, don’t keep the TV set turned on all the time. Don’t leave it on in the background when you’re doing other things. If possible, avoid channel hopping too. Instead, choose in advance what you’re going to watch, watch it and then turn the TV off again. For your home computer or tablet, use parental control apps to limit the amount of time spent on YouTube.
As well as encouraging intentional media consumption habits, this should also make it much easier to plan movie time in advance.
I’d also suggest that before you allow your child to watch a movie (or play a game), it’s best to preview it (or at least check out some other parent reviews). A quick warning from my own experience though: you may need to ask someone to lock Your gadget after a while, as it’s easy to wind up “previewing” a game for an hour or two.
One off preparations: First off, choose the show or movie you want to watch in advance and set a specific time to start. This builds anticipation. Talk about what you think might happen. We try to turn our living room into a movie theater as much as we can by buying in popcorn and soda and being sure to close curtains if our movie ‘night’ happens to be during daylight hours.
Right now we’re going through a “superheroes period” in our movie preferences which very often limits our discussion to questions like “who is faster – Flash or Zoom? Or Superman?” And so on.
But there’s always something you can learn, regardless of the movie. Recently we were reminded of modern day philosopher-in-chief Spider-Man’s inspirational quote for parents that, “With great power comes great responsibility!” One of those responsibilities is to make our familytime a great adventure and develop deeper relations with our child – a truly great responsibility which I wish I had some super-powers to help accomplish.
You might be surprised by the depth of some of your kid’s thoughts and observations though. I was speechless when I heard the following from my 7-year old: “I like Tony Stark but he’s not a man of honour”. And then came a short comment about his selfishness, friendship and relations with Pepper.
Use simple questions like:
- Who is your favourite character?
- Why do you like him/her?
- What is your favourite scene?
- Was there anything scary in the movie?
- What superhero would you like to be or what superpower would you like to have? (or other genre specific questions)
It’s better to ask questions after the movie is over. Otherwise, under the pressure of our parental authority the child can form an opinion about this or that movie character in advance. When we do this, we deprive them of the opportunity to learn and draw their own conclusions.
When the movie is over, it’s great for the child to share their opinion first. Let them express their feelings and emotions with you. We all need to learn how to create a relaxed and comfortable environment so that our children are willing to speak and share their impressions of what they’ve seen.
Spend time with your child. Whenever possible, watch movies and TV shows together with your child and talk about what you’ve seen. I think we are capable of doing this. As Nick Fury said, “I still believe in superheroes”.