Movies are filled with a wide variety of feelings and are a great tool to teach emotions. As with the other activities in this chapter, watching movies at home with your child must be a fun event, not a structured lesson for learning. Most children are talkative and inquisitive during movies, often asking, “Why did he do that?” “What’s he going to do next?” or “Why is he mad?” While this can be irritating if you are also trying to enjoy the movie, choose specific times when you can make the teaching of emotions your goal and you can answer all his questions.
Animated children’s movies can be an even better tool for teaching emotions than those with actors. Animation is usually done with dramatic facial expressions that are easy to read. The character’s faces are also left on the screen for a longer period of time, giving the child time to look at the face and think about what the character is feeling. The dialogue in children’s animation is also often very simple, and the other characters in the movie usually verbalize what the other characters are feeling, making it easier for children to follow the story. Disney and Pixar animations do an excellent job of showing emotions and teaching about friendship, loyalty, and empathy. Characters usually have many feelings that they openly share with another character. They also usually face a challenge they must overcome, but only if they seek the help of others.
You can occasionally make a comment about the character’s feelings to help aid your child in reading emotions. Comments such as, “Oh, he looks so sad!” or “Oh my, is he ever angry!” help label feelings and at the same time demonstrates your empathy for the characters.
Oftentimes children are so excited by a movie that they talk about it for days afterwards. This is a great opportunity to keep the feeling and the emotional message of the movie on your child’s mind. However, if he does not talk about it spontaneously, you can try a few times to start a conversation about it, but if he does not respond, let it go so he does not learn that each time he watches a movie with you it becomes a lesson.