Your Kiddo’s First Trip to the Movies (Tantrum-Free)

Chances are good that your child has seen their share of movies – in fact, they’d probably watch a favorite video on a constant loop until the cows came home, if you let them.

There is a difference though, between popping Toy Story or Big Hero 6 into the DVD player in the living room, and going to the movie theater to watch a film. Between the aroma of hot buttered popcorn wafting through the air, the dimly lit rows of seats, the massive screen, and the encompassing surround sound, it’s an experience that cannot be fully reproduced at home.

Before making that first trip to the movies, it is essential to determine whether your child is ready. If they can sit quietly through movies at home, possess a firm grasp on the “inside voice” concept, and typically display a consistent attention span, it might be worth a try. You can take several steps to make the most out of your child’s first movie theater experience.

Pick the Right Movie

Wait for a show that your kiddo is excited to see and that you believe will keep them engaged for most (if not all) of the film. An animated kids’ movie is probably your best bet, especially if it is a follow-up to a current favorite, or focuses on one of your child’s favorite topics. Check the running time of any flick you are considering as well. A shorter movie may be best for a first theater outing.

Choose an Appropriate Venue

For some children, a traditional theater setting is fun and exciting, but for others it can be overwhelming. If your child is sensitive to loud noises or especially fearful of the dark, consider an alternative. Check with your local theaters to see if any offer special showings, as some have established toddler times when the lights are not completely dimmed and the audio is more subdued. If you are fortunate enough to have a local drive-in theater, this can be an ideal spot for a first trip to the movies.

Time It Properly

Choosing the right time of day will ensure you both have a great time at the movies. Pick a time when your little one will not be tired, hungry, or otherwise prone to a meltdown. Between breakfast and lunch or after nap time, but prior to dinner are typically the best times. If you catch a matinee show, there will likely be fewer patrons, more kids and you get a discount – bonus!

Bring a Diversion

A favorite toy in your bag can be a lifesaver. Sensitive kids can become overwhelmed by everything, from changes in the background music to a sad part in the film, to an even slightly scary character (a certain little boy I know leaves the room every time Princess Unikitty gets angry in The Lego Movie). If you sense that your child is uncomfortable or even bored with a portion of the film, a fun distraction can help the time pass more smoothly.

Pack Snacks

Ordering (buttered!) popcorn during your child’s first trip to the movie theater is practically a rite of passage, but you may opt to forgo all of the sugary processed goodies that would otherwise have your tike bouncing in his seat. Tuck some healthier options in your purse to ward off the hungries that infamously turn angelic young children into raving maniacs. Whole grain crackers with nut butter, raisins, or string cheese can tide over their tummy. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

Skip the Previews

The trailers of upcoming shows can cause your kid to start fidgeting before the movie even begins. Take this time to hit the restrooms, to make sure you have enough snacks or drinks and to go over your rules and expectations for once the film comes on.

Select Seats Thoughtfully

Sitting close to the aisle with easy access to an exit will enable you to slip out of the theater more easily should your outing go pear-shaped. This spot is also ideal for potty break emergencies. In addition, try not to sit directly in front of or behind other theater patrons, in case your child should kick the seat ahead or turn around to look around behind them.  

Go with the Flow

Watch your child for cues throughout the movie. If they begin to seem bored, tired, or irritable, take a quick break to the lobby. Sometimes, the chance to stretch their legs for a few minutes will be enough and you can return to the theater to watch the remainder of the film.

Don’t feel defeated if the excursion is simply too much for your child. They may not be into the movie, may be a little tired, or might just not be ready yet. Praise them for making an effort, and try again in the future. Your time together is what is most important. Everything else is icing on the cake… or butter on the popcorn!

Planning on taking your kiddo to the movies soon? What movie will you be watching, at what’s the game plan for keeping other patrons from throwing you evil looks? Share with us!

Tags : everyday celebrations   family   bonding   activities   milestones   movies   toddlers   

No Comments.