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Six Ways Big Hero 6 Can Help Your Family Talk About Giftedness

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Last fall, I went with Sara to see the new Disney film upon recommendation by a friend.  Having not had kids yet, Sara and I had both lost track of current children’s movies over the course of our adulthood. We’re now expecting our first child, so it seems especially appropriate to get back into the PG-rated groove.

(As a side note, Sara and I were pretty excited, even emotional, as we watched the lineup of previews before the movie began. I’m looking forward to more date nights… or more likely, afternoons).

I brought a notebook with me to the theater, and I found myself wildly taking notes during some of the best scenes of the movie. I kept thinking about all the incredible potential conversations that could come up within families after viewing this movie together.

And so, I have taken my messy scrawled notes and drafted Six Ways Big Hero 6 Can Help Your Family Talk about Giftedness.

1. Have your child imagine a place like Nerd School, where science is exalted and food allergies understood. Imagine belonging and safety without effort and vigilance.

Children need places of trust to play with their powers as they develop the discernment of how to engage with the world. How much time and energy does your child spend trying to belong? How much time is spent attending to safety?

2. Have your child inventory their true peers and mentors.

One hero Hiro, with abundant generosity and talent, receives guidance on the right and accurate use of his powers by an older brother, Tadashi. Throughout the movie, Hiro is surrounded by peer-mentors that keep an eye on him, back his vision and check that he is not proceeding at any cost. Who do your children turn to to sort out feelings of stuckness? Can they name five adults who understand and back them?

3. Talk with your kids about giving and receiving feedback.

The developing characters in Big Hero 6 have a variety of asynchronous development; they often know more than they know what to do with. Hiro’s mentors handled their concerns about Hiro’s behavior with grace and kindness.

Feedback skills in all directions can reduce battles, and these skills are teachable. How does your child take feedback from peers and adults? How does your child offer feedback?

4. Reflect with your child on what happens when they don’t get exactly what they want exactly when they want it.

We all have our moments of struggle when things don’t go our way. And there may be a time for anger, which can rouse energy to fight for things that matter, like safety. In Big Hero 6, robots, kids and adults work to control their switch. Sometimes it’s not about what choice you make; it’s how much control you have over your own choices. How do you, the parent or caregiver, handle it when you don’t get what you want? And what has your child learned from you?

5. Discuss with your child what their superpowers are.

The characters in Big Hero 6 very quickly reveal that they are not impostors: they have the privilege of self-awareness and confidence, enhanced by time spent with true peers. This self-inquiry is nearly always developmentally appropriate, but we often need permission to think about our strengths and gifts so explicitly. Self-understanding is the root of effective use of powers. How can we create a safe environment for exploring our gifts?

6. Help your child learn how to handle their genius, instead of solely and repeatedly displaying it.

During an action scene in Big Hero 6, one character exhorts another to “Use those big brains of yours and …” Once we know our gifts, we need to know when and how to activate them. Of course kids want recognition of their abilities. We all do. These kids also want to be met in shared power, to have their push matched with push back.  A fire doesn’t resent a fireplace for its containment. How does your household manage to cultivate both self-understanding and appropriate timing and containment?

So go watch Big Hero 6 with your family, and watch with an eye for moments of freedom and moments of guidance.

Now, in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you. Have you seen Big Hero 6 yet? What discussions did you have with your children afterwards?

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Paula Prober November 10, 2014, 7:57 pm

    This movie sounds worth watching! I’d love to see more of your reviews of TV and movies that show healthy depictions of giftedness. It’s so hard to find them. If you’re interested, perhaps you could also review good books on giftedness, too. Thanks, Bob.

    • byamtich November 10, 2014, 11:02 pm

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Paula! I’m really enjoying watching and writing about these shows and movies, and I like the idea of looking at books as well.

  • Caitie November 11, 2014, 1:11 am

    Bob, what a fun take on this film! Now I have to go see it. Our eldest is asynchronous (to say the least) and now, at 6.5, he’s finally watching some movies. Talk about needing to catch up! 🙂

    • byamtich November 11, 2014, 4:04 am

      There are so many movies to see! I hope you (plural) like it. GHF has a fun blog hop called “Gifted in Reel Life” with more movies and reviews.

  • Desiree November 11, 2014, 5:42 am

    Thanks for that Bob, I can’t wait till it comes to NZ! Great to have a new movie to watch with our ds7. And great tips. We’re all soaking it all up 🙂

  • Susan November 12, 2014, 2:21 am

    We went this past weekend and loved the movie! Overall, our 6.5 year old found it exciting and emotional at times. Part of giftedness is the intense emotionality we help him manage. Don’t want to give away the movie but our little guy was very sad and talked a lot about reasons how Hero should have saved –///!

    • byamtich November 12, 2014, 4:00 am

      Awesome! Feel free to hit me up for a free initial consultation if you ever want to discuss managing intense emotions. We can accomplish a lot in 15 minutes.

  • Mark November 12, 2014, 5:36 pm

    Congratulations to you and yours Bob!

  • Erin November 14, 2014, 6:00 am

    it was a brilliant film for gifted children…my son came home bubbling over about nerd school and CAD and robotics. And he said rather wistfully, “I wish I had friends who cared about all that stuff…Hiro is so LUCKY.” He’s had disappointments time and again in his social circle where he’s tried to interest friends in CAD, stop motion movie making or Clue board games (he’s eight and imagines himself to be Sherlock Homes with computer knowledge) and he’s always had most friends get bored, wander away and eventually snap at him about how he liked boring stuff.

    • byamtich November 14, 2014, 1:53 pm

      He clearly values engagement, and it is certainly desirable to have true peers with which to share their interests. However, even if not aligned specifically at the level of interest, a network of peers with similar intensity of passion can be rich for the soul. Check out my article “The Importance of Peers for Gifted Children and Adolescents.”

  • Brianne November 14, 2014, 1:40 pm

    Now I’m really interested in seeing this movie with my kids! Both are asynchronous, but my oldest (8) is really the one who struggles with it the most. His gifts are largely verbal and musical, so we talk a tremendous amount about “belonging” and finding those places where you fit. He’s already recognized that the conservatory school where he spends his Saturdays is a better “fit” for him, despite mixed ages, than his regular classroom. He often wishes for a school environment that would embrace all the things that are important to him and where he wouldn’t have to “pass” with peers. This movie sounds like a great one to add to our list of books, shows, and films that contain lessons he can draw on! Thanks for the write-up. I would have passed this one by if I hadn’t read this.

  • byamtich November 14, 2014, 2:12 pm

    I hope you enjoy it! I’m glad he is assessing quality of fit for different environments; it can get tricky to honestly assess distinctions between age-mates and true peers. And, with asynchronous development and a variety of ages within oneself, the range of true peers may be complicated as well.

    It’s not about having a perfect solution, but about being able to consistently check in with open communication, both self-talk and discussions within the family. One priority I have when I work with families is to dig deep into the needs and values that come up in order to increase creativity to attend to those needs.

  • Tami November 14, 2014, 6:41 pm

    Thank you so much for putting into words what we were thinking during and after the movie. The most rewarding moment was when our daughter (9) leaned over and said that Honey Lemon was just like her best friend. I recognized it, too, and was thrilled to see her making personal connections. She was also very emotionally touched by
    Baymax which prompted some rare, raw conversations.

    • byamtich November 16, 2014, 4:46 am

      Nice! I’m glad to see the movie stirred up such connections and conversations.

  • Jennifer November 14, 2014, 7:07 pm

    This is great information. Another great movie you may want to watch (since you said you had become out of touch with children’s movies) is Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. The main theme in the movie is “Keep Moving Forward.” In it they talk about mistakes or failures are something we can learn from and then move on.

    • byamtich November 16, 2014, 4:46 am

      Thanks, Jennifer! I’m excited to check it out.

  • Erin November 19, 2014, 4:45 pm

    I saw the movie last night and LOVED it! As a female engineer, I hope it inspires kids to use their “superpowers” (brains!) to develop technology, and love science! The characters clearly worked hard and leveraged their special skills to become their best selves. If only we all had a “nerd school” environment to cultivate our talent and interests with supportive family and friends.

    • byamtich November 19, 2014, 4:49 pm

      Yay! One unexpected impact of my review reaching so many people is that I may get to visit some real-life “nerd schools.” They are out there, but I know many families are compelled to homeschool or develop their own micro-schools. As far as unschooling goes, that tradition has so much respect for autonomy and freedom that you may not even need to use the “nerd” modifier.

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