Mental health matters and talking about it at an early age is a great way to let kids know what’s going on in their head is important. Disney movies are a great way to talk about mental health with kids.
Just like every toddler household, Mila and I watch a lot of Disney. When we’re driving or talking at dinner, we talk about the message behind each movie.
No matter if it’s about grief, anxiety, or perseverance, Disney movies talk about it all.
Watching movies is also a fun way to practice self care. We usually watch a movie before bed to unwind. With any self care nights, there’s Disney movies playing too.
Disney movies and mental health just work.
Here are five of Mila’s favorite Disney movies with mental health messages I love.
Luca came out this past summer and Mila watched it repeatedly for days. The biggest message in this movie is “Silenzio Bruno.” She’s wearing that in the picture in the beginning of the post.
Luca seems to have a lot of anxiety in the movie. His friend, Alberto, helps him push through this anxiety by saying “Silenzio Bruno.”
The way I’ve explained it is it means for the little voice in your head to be quiet. You shouldn’t doubt yourself or think you’re not going to succeed. Silence those negative voices and conquer your goals.
Mila and I say this to each other now. We’ve talked about big emotions and feeling worried. Whenever Mila is scared I tell her this and she usually tries whatever.
The movie also talks about friendship, being yourself, and loss. It’s a great movie for those big topics, but it’s also really good too.
I’m pretty sure Frozen is Mila’s favorite movie of all time. It’s one she can always watch and never get bored of.
Since we’ve watched it so many times, there’s a few themes that I talk about with Mila.
First, we talk about how people manage grief… of course in an age appropriate way. Elsa and Anna’s parents die early in the movie. Elsa has already shut herself off from the world (conceal, don’t feel) and Anna wanted to outwards process her grief.
We’ve talked about healthy actions to do when we feel sad and mention both of her favorite characters.
The second thing we talk about is her favorite song, “Let It Go.”
Anytime Mila is having big emotions at home, we sing “Let It Go.” Mostly because dancing and singing always makes her feel better, but I also love the words to it.
I don’t want Mila to ever feel held back by her emotions. If she can let them go and not let them hold her back, she can conquer the world.
Admittedly, I think Moana moves me more than it does Mila, but she loves the island life.
I love the part where Te Kā turns back to Te Fiti. It makes me cry every single time. For me, it shows how anger, grief, and disappointment can change a person. It gives them a tough exterior, but they’re always a person underneath it all.
Mila might not grasp all of that now, but we talk a lot about Moana and her Dad’s relationship.
Moana wants to leave the island and voyage, but her dad wants her to stay safe on the island. By the end of the movie, he lets her go, but it was a struggle.
With this, I tell Mila she can be anything she wants to be. I will never try to pressure her or hold her back.
Of course she tries to be funny and bring me her whole snack drawer to eat after these talks…
If you ever have a conversation about Mila and ask about Jensen, she will let you know that he’s her brother and that he died. It can come off as a little creepy, but I’ve always talked about Jensen and grief with her.
When we watched Onward, she understood that their dad died and he couldn’t ever fully come back. Even when his legs came back, he could never stay or be the person that the boys needed.
It, again, shows how Ian and Barley both handle their grief. There’s no right way to grieve, but it seems they both have grieved in healthy ways.
As she gets older, I’m also going to point out that grief is a journey. Ian and Barley literally take a road trip to help process their grief, but that’s what we do when we’re really grieving too. There’s bumps in the roads and roads you take that you shouldn’t. It’s all a part of grieving.
I hope Mila will continue loving this movie and learn more lessons the older she gets.
5. Inside Out
If you’re looking to talk about emotions, Inside Out is a perfect way to introduce kids to emotions personified.
We love Joy and Sadness. Their journey through the movie let’s us know it’s okay to feel however we need. You can’t always be happy or sad, there’s a good mix in it all.
The other journey in the movie is Riley’s. Riley and her parents have moved and it’s hard on her. Her story is perfect for talking to kids about big life changed and the emotions felt afterwards. Again, it shows that it’s okay to miss something and have those feelings attached. It’s also okay to let yourself make room for new memories and emotions as well.
Like I stated before, I just love how this movie gives each emotion a personality. It helps kids visualize their emotions and how they could handle them too.
This is just a short list of Disney movies that talk about mental health. There are so many more that we love and can have great talks about too.
- The Princess and the Frog
- Frozen 2
I hope that you enjoy this list and can talk about these things with your child too. It’s an easy way to bring those talks up and dig deeper in what your little is thinking about.
What movies would you have added to this list? Or what are some ways you talk about mental health with your child?
I love this! I watched some of these Disney movies with my daughter, and next time I will use these ideas to talk about mental health and emotions. Her favorite movie recently is Luca. We haven’t seen Inside Out yet, so we’ll try that one next.
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It’s interesting to see if they’ve picked some of the emotions up! Inside Out is an amazing one!
These are all amazing movies that, as an adult, I’ve chosen to rewatch multiple times with my kids. I love how you analyzed them into ways a lot of us may not have fully thought in those ways! We could definitely have long conversations about each of them 👏🏻
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Thank you! We do and I think it’s important to keep going deeper into it the older she gets 🙂
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Disney is a great way to talk about a lot of different topics. This is a wonderful approach to discussing mental health.
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Yes! It bridges that gap.