where does the significant sensitivity to tv/movies come from - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > where does the significant sensitivity to tv/movies come from
ahpo5's Avatar ahpo5 05:36 PM 02-18-2010
Both my boys (6 and 4) don't like to watch most movies/tv shows because of their dramatic content. By that, I mean when tv makes a big dramatic deal out of sadness/pain/fear/etc, my boys will literally hide under a blanket or run out of the room (can be a cartoon or regular movie). This is fine when we are in our house. But now that my 6 yr old is in K, he has been invited to pizza/movie parties where his friends will be watching a movie he doesn't like for the above reasons. So he won't go to the party and it makes him very upset; in the long run I know this won't dramatically effect his life, but in the present, it makes him sad that he can't go.

Do others have kids like this? Does anyone understand why it happens with some kids and not others? We watch tv or movies weekly but not daily (as in, we sometimes have Friday night family movie time, or the kids watch a show on 1 or 2 other days during the week, but none of that happened until the kids were well over 2 yrs old). I've wondered if its a sheltered response since we limit tv so they're not exposed to it. I've also seen others mention that some gifted kids have harder times watching tv/movies--if anyone has read about that, could you point me to a resource?

From a personal and common sense perspective, *I* have a hard time watching lots of things on tv, even the news. But I am likewise aware that some kids (even if they don't watch a lot of tv) don't experience the level of fear/sadness my kids do when they watch. I also wonder if over time it will ease up a bit.

Any thoughts? Thx

Marimami's Avatar Marimami 08:45 PM 02-18-2010
We've raised DD screen free, but since she was about 4 we loosened that a bit and she has seen some parts of movies at friends' houses. She has decided that she really doesn't like them. Her sensitive soul also doesn't like most fictional literature either. She universally prefers non-fiction, regardless of the media. She asks us to tell her the plots of books and movies and she has yet to discover a movie that she wants to see. She doesn't care at all that other kids watch them. Well, that's not entirely true. She finds it slightly annoying when other kids only want to play things based on movies.

For the gifted link, read up on overexcitabilities. Here is a good starting point:

We have the suspected gifted connection too. In fact, I came across the gifted connection as I was exploring her sensitivities and it when I put all the pieces together it made a lot more sense.

Honestly, I am quite comfortable with her being sensitive about movies. She's only 5.5 and it seems like far too young to need to be tough about these things. I am trying to work with her on the fictional literature, though. I think it is important that she eventually be able to handle conflict/resolution but, again, she's still quite young IMO.

ahpo5's Avatar ahpo5 09:12 PM 02-18-2010
Thanks Holli. I had forgotten to mention books in there too. There are books they don't like because someone is really sad or gets hurt. My eldest we've had suggestions about giftedness, but I wouldn't have necessarily thought that for my second...which is why I was curious about that link.

I'm not worried either, but it is actually interfering with my 6 yr olds life (in that he won't go to a movie/pizza party). He is a MEGA social kid. This has truly been the first time he's said no to hanging out with friends, and he was really sad about it. Also, family and friends are really noticing that my 2 boys won't watch most tv/movies, and I haven't really known what to say to them when asked (though they aren't in any way being rude, just curious).
lonegirl's Avatar lonegirl 11:18 PM 02-18-2010
Do you reacted similarly when watching a movie/tv? Do you remind them that it is just a movie and that it is make-believe? We do this. If he seems upset by something I remind him that it is just pretend. Most movies we watch have good endings so I remind him to watch and see what happens next.
Has he tried going to a movie night? Sometimes what you do at home and what you do in presence of friends is different.
LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 12:00 AM 02-19-2010
For us, it's clearly encoded in the genes. Many people in my family have trouble with books and movies that have strong emotional content or are scary. Dd is sensitive to both the content and the music. Ds to the content. Neither one has seen very many movies as a result. (Heck, I am still scared by Cruella DeVille!)

I strongly recommend the book: The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. It's a nice complement to the info from the Hoagie's Gifted site.
of2mindsmama's Avatar of2mindsmama 12:46 AM 02-19-2010
our daughters 7.5 and 4 are the same way, the 7 year old in particular. they are terrified of any suspenseful scenes, and even the creepy music sends them into panic. i love teasing my dh who brought home polar express and 20 minutes later both girls are clinging to me and screaming "turn it off turn it off turn it off!" LMAO at his expense!
(i'm definitely like that too, sensitive -- i hate horror films, and tragic imagery stays with me a LONG time. i am very careful about what i watch, and when i am pregnant i am SUPER sensitive, not wanting to watch anything but the happiest, lightest, most predictable films.)
our girls don't watch any live TV, just movies we carefully select. i've always figured that they haven't been desensitized to TV the way other kids who watch all the time have been? i've heard some parents talk about how it's a problem how easily scared their kids are, but i think of it as a good thing. their sensitivity is beautiful to me.
we find there are lots of films the girls love watching, but they are almost never the ones people think are for children. we don't want to hurry them out of this lovely, sensitive time in their lives. we always tell them those movies will be there 2 years, 5 years, 10 years from now and be more appropriate for them then.
our girls love watching old broadway shows with gene kelly and fred astaire, ginger rogers, ann ******, vera ellen. some of their favorites: annie get your gun, take me out to the ballgame, on the town, easter parade, american in paris, seven brides for seven brothers -- there are so many once one starts exploring the genre! and they have recently discovered gilbert and sullivan. they adore pirates of penzance and iolanthe both.
good luck!
ahpo5's Avatar ahpo5 11:53 AM 02-19-2010
The Polar Express went over the same way in this house too Thanks for the book rec, Lynn. Interesting about the gene theory...going through all this helps me understand myself as well, and why dh can watch Cops and I can't even LISTEN to it from anther room. Ugh, such an utter exploitation of the poor and disadvantaged; when I've heard kids on it, I cry!! (Of course, those kinds of shows have *only* been on in our house when all the kids are in bed).
Pat, dh and I have tried over and over again to help them understand its fake. You'd be surprised even when you limit tv in your own house, what you are exposed to everywhere else anyway (grandparents, going over to the neighbors to borrow butter, even while shopping in the stores!) My older boys will hide. I did try telling him to go to the movie party, and he could just stay upstairs while his friends watched or play with toys...but he's old enough to realize thats not the point of the party. Trully, I'm happy he's confident enough to know his limits. I just feel for the kid, and was hoping maybe it would get easier over time. Glad to know though my kid isn't the only one!
One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl 02:44 PM 02-19-2010
I think it comes in part from being sensitive and not truly understanding that the shows are imaginary. Movies are very intense and kids get wrapped up in them, I personally can't stand the intensity of suspense movies and I know that it isn't real. I would be horrified if I thought that someone was truly being hurt so I can understand how kids would be. One thing that has helped my dd is showing her the bloopers at the end of the movie and talking about how that was the part when the actor made a mistake. Most cartoons have fake bloopers.
Marimami's Avatar Marimami 07:58 PM 02-19-2010
In our case, DD understands quite clearly that it's fake and imaginary. It just doesn't matter. She feels such empathy for these characters. It's truly not as simple as just explaining the distinction between imaginary and real. She gets that, and has for a very long time.

Even as an infant she would become visibly upset and concerned if she saw or heard another infant or child cry--even in random places like restaurants, stores, etc. She is extraordinarily empathetic.

I know those of you who suggest just telling them that it's imaginary mean well, but it truly is not as simple as that.

LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 10:10 PM 02-19-2010
Originally Posted by Marimami View Post
In our case, DD understands quite clearly that it's fake and imaginary. It just doesn't matter. She feels such empathy for these characters. It's truly not as simple as just explaining the distinction between imaginary and real. She gets that, and has for a very long time.
Same here.

It's partly developmental, partly empathy, and partly a really good ability to suspend disbelief. People with less of a willing suspension of disbelief don't seem to have this issue. (Dh is like that.)

My sister was a young adult when she saw The Other Side of the Mountain (I think it was that movie) and at the end of the movie she was sobbing so hard that she attracted attention from other movie goers. She just puts herself so much into another person's shoes that she gets really involved. She's a brilliant person who can easily tell fiction from reality.
MAMom's Avatar MAMom 12:09 AM 02-22-2010
My DS (6.5) is very, very sensitive to media that he perceives as scary. At 3, he was having nightmares about the Curious George PBS cartoon show (the scary monkey , but he was to him), at 4 or 5 that we had to shut off the movie Cars 15 or 20 minutes in b/c he found it scary, at age 5, we had to leave the theater when we went to see the movie Space Chimps. Today, it was leaving the Harry Potter exhibit in Boston with his hands over his face not half way through - which he had BEGGED us to take him to (even after discussing over and over that it might be scary).

DD (4) has a completely different personality. She's always loved Curious George, threw a fit that we had to leave Space Chimps b/c DS didn't want to stay (and she was maybe 2.75 at the time), and wasn't in the least phased by the Harry Potter exhibit/film clips today.

We do very selective media exposure with both - mostly all PBS - so at least for my kids, the difference is their personalities, and not the amount/kind of media exposure they have.

I love DS's tender soul, and actually hope it's something that he doesn't outgrow
karemore's Avatar karemore 07:37 PM 02-22-2010
DD is highly sensitive to suspense/drama/danger in movies.

We had to skip a family movie night at church last week because a relatively tame movie for others would have been too much for her.

I was always the same way so I understand.

Most of her little friends are always going to the movies. One friend actually loves the Wizard of Oz, which to this day creeps me out.
sanguine_speed's Avatar sanguine_speed 11:07 PM 02-23-2010
Just sensitive.

I still cannot watch any scary movies, nor tv drama shows like CSI, etc.

My kids are similarly sensitive.
sbgrace's Avatar sbgrace 04:45 AM 02-24-2010
I do think it's genetic. I'm extremely sensitive myself. So are both my kids. One is probably more than I even. And both know it's pretend. They react the same way to books with "scary" or sad content.
Tuckoo's Avatar Tuckoo 02:58 PM 02-24-2010
DD is just like that too. She is 5. She gets anxious even from stories I tell her where something might go wrong for the characters. She asks me to stop and make the situation right for them. She doesn't want to hear any of the traditional fairy tales. It's kind of difficult at school, where a teacher or parent reads them stories and she can't handle it. She's cried at school or left the classroom because the story is too "scary". She's also cried at movies and we've had to leave the theater.

Funny thing is DH and I are huge movie fans and we loved our scary-violent films. I even loved scary movies as a child.

I found it interesting that there are many children here that react that way. In her classroom (in a pretty crunchy school) dd is probably the only one behaving that way.

Looking forward to reading more about this.
MJB's Avatar MJB 03:38 PM 02-24-2010
My kids aren't like that and I've wondered if they're under-empathetic, but they are very kind and thoughtful in real life. If I ask, during a movie, "Isn't that so sad?" they'll roll their eyes and go, "Mom, it's just a MOVIE." so I think it's definitely more a can't-suspend-their-disbelief issue.
We did no screen time til 2, we watch a movie once a week, and my 4yo is highly gifted but still, not affected by movie drama.
ahpo5's Avatar ahpo5 04:16 PM 02-24-2010
Tuckoo I feel like I'm still learning this all and musing on whats going on too. I wonder if raising a child in a more attachment-parented way (by means of attention to their needs, constant contact, respectful when disciplining, etc) actually puts emphasis on and/or teaches empathy. We teach by doing, even if we aren't actually saying "please feel for this character he is scared" haha. (By this I am NOT saying that if your child seems to have less empathy for characters they are not raised in that manner; I'm just wondering if the two could be correlated).

I see no end so far in sight for us. Ds is 5 and his K class was going to watch 101 Dalmations on the 101 day of school, and I've asked the teacher to find something else for ds to do--there is no way he said he'll watch that, however he will actually read the book. Luckily a few other kids in his class don't even LIKE the movie so he'll have company and will probably have fun doing something else.

CuckooMamma's Avatar CuckooMamma 02:27 AM 03-01-2010
We have two very sensitive girls (8.5 and 4.5). Both are definitely gifted, we watch only tame things on tv like food challenge, and we homeschool :-)
Smokering's Avatar Smokering 05:56 AM 03-01-2010
I was uber-sensitive to scary movies as a kidlet. I still am, kinda. I think the most hard-core "horror" (ie, mild thriller) I've ever watched was The Sixth Sense, which left me a gibbering wreck for weeks. As a child, I couldn't watch The Little Mermaid through because of Ursula. I also hated what I called "vulgar" humour, the silly slapstick bad-guy-gets-his-compeuppance pratfall type stuff. Like what happens to the Other Woman in The Parent Trap, or when the evil teacher was run out of the school in Matilda. It always made me intensely uncomfortable for some reason.

All grown I'm up I still don't watch things like Saw or Se7en, but I have a degree in film sooooo... yeah, it didn't ruin my life. She'll probably gradually grow out of it. Not that she needs to be acclimated to horror (one could make a good case for that being a bad thing, indeed), but I got over my fear of creepy/supernatural stuff to some degree by watching Buffy. It was camp enough with strong enough storylines that the odd scary episode was bearable, and the show got darker as the seasons progressed so I was kinda eased into it. All nine seasons of the X-Files later and my tolerance for drippy, oozing, slimy hybrid liver-eating mutant critters is greatly improved. I'm very proud.
Just1More's Avatar Just1More 04:07 AM 03-02-2010
Wow...I'm glad to see so many people have kids like mine!

Ds isn't bothered. He and dd were watching The 3 Stooges with my dad one day, and dd said, "Why are they doing that? He's HURTING him!" Ds says, "Hahaha. He whack him in da head. Hahaha. DAT funny." Just different kids.

Dd can't watch ANYTHING. She is so literal and so concrete, and so...internalizing? that she can't handle it. Little House episodes are too much for her. We watched an old Charlie Brown tonight, and that was pushing it. Dh told her that our dog would eventually die one day. . NEVER NEVER before bed drop a gem like that.

She's just a super sensitive kid. And that's okay.

Could you maybe, in some non-embarrassing way, make it known to the parents of your ds's closest friends that you don't watch TV or, if you do, that because of x, you very carefully screen his viewing, or something like that? Then he would be invited over to do non-TV things, but it wouldn't be because he was scared.