I already know what you’re thinking.
*Groan* Not another Frozen article.
*Sigh* That was so 2013.
*Face palm* I mean, Let. It. Go. already.
Okay, okay. I hear you. Just one more though? You can consider it prep work for 2019.
Disney Movies and the Parenting Lens
My daughters are 4 and 2, so we’re just now entering this cultural phenomenon. We watch the movie at least twice a week, much like many of you I’m sure, and at all other times are singing “Elsa songs” and tripping over Her Majesty’s royal cape.
And I realized something the other day while I was watching Frozen for about the 73rd time.
It is really sad.
This is probably a telling sign that I have officially transitioned into a new life stage. Maybe you have too.
You might be a parent watching Frozen if…
- You find yourself thinking about how much differently you would have handled the discovery of Elsa’s powers.
- You want to adopt Anna into your home in order to spare her a childhood filled with isolation and loneliness.
- You think about how many psychological issues Elsa and Anna are going to have to work through in the end instead of smiling about everything being unfrozen.
I mean, I know I should be happy that everything becomes summer again, but what about all those lost years?!
The silver lining is this: While my girls are singing along to “The First Time in Forever” and watching Anna ultimately save the day, I’m seeing a deeper narrative at play.
And, the things I’m paying attention to beneath the surface have given me some good parenting tips that I’ve tucked away and actually used.
Here are just a few hidden messages I’ve slipped into my “Good Parenting Toolkit.”
Frozen Parenting Tip #1:
Celebrate Your Kids’ Unique Qualities
Elsa, without question, has some unique qualities.
At least, I think the ability to produce snow and ice from nothing would fit under that umbrella.
And just as she begins to explore her abilities and figure out what she is capable of, something goes wrong.
Her parents, in those moments after she strikes Anna in the head, had three choices:
- Rally around her as a family and support her unique abilities. Coach, train, and encourage her to use them well.
- Hide her in a room and teach her to suppress her powers.
- Introduce her to Professor X.
They, of course, chose to hide her away, and, well, it just didn’t turn out well. For anyone.
As parents, we must know our kids.
- What are their strengths?
- What makes them different and unique?
- In what ways do they feel most loved?
- What motivates them?
What a charge, to know our kids.
I find that a lot of this comes down to paying attention, really. I learn the most from my kids when I watch them complete tasks, interact with other kids, or transition from one activity to the next.
I am also a lover of outside resources and expert opinions, though, so books like Your Child’s Strengths and Strengths-Based Parenting have been especially helpful in my attempts to understand my kids’ unique abilities.
But, here’s the thing: It doesn’t stop with knowledge.
Elsa’s parents, after all, knew what she was capable of.
We must know and celebrate our kids, and then we must teach them to know and celebrate themselves.
For instance, maybe you have an especially perceptive child. Point this out to her. Say things like, “I love how you notice things others don’t.” Then, talk about how she can use that quality to impact others: “You always notice how others are feeling. If you notice someone is feeling sad, I bet you could come up with some awesome ways to make him or her feel better!”
Or, maybe you have a child who feels things very deeply. You can make him aware of this quality by saying something like, “I’m thankful that you show your feelings when you feel sad or mad or happy.” The impact quality is there for this one too: “Your feelings will help you understand when your friends are feeling sad or mad or happy. That will help you to be a great friend!”
Our kids will not just innately know and understand themselves. We must teach them who they are and celebrate their strengths in the process.
Frozen Parenting Tip #2:
Teach Your Kids How to Handle Strong Emotions
Conceal it. Don’t feel it. Don’t let it show.
The saddest nine words of the movie, if you ask me.
Elsa’s parents’ attempts to hide her abilities, while likely well-intentioned, created a monster of fear so great that it eventually couldn’t be contained any longer.
Good parenting teaches kids to deal with big emotions.
One of my girls feels things on a very deep level. She’s incredibly sensitive and perceptive, and maybe that’s why those nine words Elsa’s father speaks slice into my heart.
Our kids will not innately know how to handle their emotions.
Shoot, our kids will not even know what their emotions are if we don’t label them.
Because of all this, we talk about feelings a lot in our house.
- You seem sad. Can you tell me what’s wrong?
- I can tell that you’re starting to get mad because your sister isn’t sharing with you.
- I think the sound of the thunder is making you feel scared.
But again, it doesn’t stop with the word knowledge. It’s about teaching our kids to deal with those emotions that they feel on such a deep level.
- You seem sad. When you’re sad, it’s okay to cry and want a hug.
- I can tell that you’re starting to get mad. It’s okay to feel mad and frustrated. It’s not okay to hit your sister.
- I think you’re scared. Let’s say a prayer and ask God to help you feel less afraid.
I find that children’s books are incredibly helpful conversation starters. The WorryWoo Book Series has lots of different books covering lots of different emotions as well as a companion series specifically written to help parents help their kids manage frustration and anger.
And that’s a great place to start.
Frozen Parenting Tip #3:
Utilize Your Village
I can’t be the only one who cringes every time I watch them close the gates to Arendelle.
You need them! I want to yell each time. You need your village!
Elsa learns from this example. She learns to shut people out.
It’s Anna who knows there is a better way. She’s the one who embraces people and utilizes help, and she’s so much better off because she welcomes people into her life.
Anna’s example is one we can learn from as parents.
Sure, I suppose we could do this parenting thing on our own, but why would we want to?
It’s so. much. harder. that way.
When we open up the doors of our lives, we welcome in things like support, wisdom, and generosity. We learn from those who have gone before us and help those who come after.
We live together. And that is the better way.
Frozen Parenting Tip #4:
Teach Your Kids to Value Love and Sacrifice
I do love Frozen. I really do! And my favorite part?
Sacrifice wins the day.
Anna isn’t saved because of True Love’s Kiss. She’s saved because she sacrifices herself for her sister. Her sister who shut her out for almost her entire childhood!
Sacrifice wins the day.
This is something I want my children to believe and act on daily.
It’s something I want to model for my kids, so they will, in turn, live it out themselves.
Of course I want them to be strong and confident individuals (you know, know themselves), but I also want them to recognize the importance of putting the needs of others before their own.
- I want them to willingly share with younger siblings.
- I want them to be okay with changes in plans if someone needs our assistance.
- I want them to step out of their comfort zones to love other people well.
I want sacrifice to win the day in their own lives. Again and again and again.
Oh, you were wondering if there were any great children’s books to help you talk to your kids about sacrifice? Might I suggest starting with The Mitten Tree or, one of my personal favorites, The Rainbow Fish.
No More Hidden Messages:
Good Parenting Starts with You
We’re not kids anymore.
And while our own kids are in awe of the trolls and their grand musical number, we’re left wondering how Kristoff and Sven ended up alone.
And that’s okay.
I’m okay with my new perspective. I’m okay with my parenting lens.
I’m okay with feeling a teensy bit sad every time Frozen ends because of all the missteps and questionable parenting decisions.
These movie moments have given me some good parenting tips and reminders in return.
You and I don’t have to parent like the King and Queen of Arendelle, but we can learn from them.
We can do better.
And the life application is worth watching the movie 587 times.
Have You Read These Yet?
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- Dad Parenting: The Good, the Bad, and the Hilarious
- Do You Struggle with the Baby + Toddler Balancing Act?
- 8 Fascinating Tickle Games Your Preschooler Will Love
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