3 Classic Films to Teach Empathy in Boys

From toilet talk to gross-out jokes, your little five-year-old boy probably has a healthy sense of humor. And with his amazing karate kicks, super speed, and incredibly high jumps, he’s also likely well on his way to being the next superhero…

But what about empathy?

Wait, what?!? Is that even a thing for boys?

Well, one day this little five year-old boy is going to be someone’s boyfriend, a spouse, a boss, father to a child… and empathy will come in handy.

So if you’re in the camp that believes boys actually can cry, then you might be looking to balance out some of the daily bash ‘em up, boys-will-be-boys romps with something a little bit more… dare we say… um… sensitive.

Here are a few visually arresting films that not only continue to stand the test of time, but really work out a boy’s empathy muscle.

And if you see a few tears trickling out of the corner of his eye… don’t worry, he’s not hurt. It’s love that powers those tears.

The Snowman

1978, NR

Originally a picture book by Raymond Briggs, this stunning short film is a bit of a tear-jerker. Absolutely gorgeous thanks to Briggs’ dreamy illustrations, it’s a must-see during the winter holidays when the first snows fall.

This is a whimsical story of a little boy’s very special friendship with his newly built snowman. Your little ones will crack up as the pair has a series of misadventures throughout the house. They play dress up. They goof around. They go on a fabulous joyride through the forest, and fly up to visit Father Christmas.

Needless to say, the boy adores his snowman. And the snowman loves him back.

But all good things must come to an end and snow melts as it always does. Your child will love the snowman, just like the little boy in the film. And his loss will be felt.

But seconds later, you’re more than likely to see him out in the snow, building a friend of his own. So don’t be surprised if he’s up until the stroke of midnight, waiting for the magic to bring his friend to life. 

The Red Balloon

1956, NR

Kids will never look at a balloon the same again after watching this critically acclaimed, Oscar-winning film.

Set in Paris, this is a sweet story of a boy’s relationship with his newfound toy… a red balloon. But this isn’t just any balloon. It seems to have a mind and a will of its own.

Your children will be entranced as the balloon follows the boy wherever he goes, disobeys him like a naughty toddler, gets him in trouble, or sticks by his side like a good, good friend. The boy and his faithful balloon are the envy of all Paris. And your kids will be envious too.

Now enter the bullies. The narrow Parisian streets are ripe with them. And the boy struggles cleverly to keep his best friend out of their grasp… until a tragic hit from a slingshot soon destroys the balloon in a particularly heart wrenching scene.

But this film won’t have your kids crying for long. There is an uplifting ending as all the balloons in the city fly to comfort the boy and take him on a fantastic ride.

E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial

1978, PG

Sometimes, even if you love someone so deeply, it’s just not enough. You still may have to set them free. That’s the dilemma for a lonely 10-year old Elliot who finds a stranded alien botanist that turns out to be a best friend.

While Elliott and E.T. are busy building a deep emotional connection, a government task force is hot on the alien’s heels. To make matters worse, E.T.’s health is rapidly declining… and Elliot’s too.

Who doesn’t feel for the poor creature that just wants to go home? Tears will be flowing when all seems lost. But the alien’s parting words will ring true. “I’ll be right here,” he states, pointing to the boy’s head. So too, will the love your child feels live on.

Do you feel there is a place for love and empathy in five-year-old boys? Share your opinions with us!

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Tags : movies   film   emotional health   

Nicki Kanwal
This is wonderful. Putting all of these films on my Watch list on Amazon. Thank you!
Sandy Connor
Love this.
Hans-christian Troedsson
My boys love these films. I love especially the snowman and also the red balloon
Shirin Behnia
Also WALL-E needs to be on this list!
Shirin Behnia
I saw The Red Balloon on a rainy day in kindergarten and instantly fell in love. I thought it was the most beautiful movie I had ever seen. I watch it with the boys once a year. They love it so much, cry, and then call it the worse movie ever because they can't stop shedding the tears.