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?