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It's come to light that sitting the kids down to watch a Disney film – complete with a predictable death plot line – is actually beneficial to your little ones’ emotional growth.
For many adults, sitting down to watch a Disney movie means one of two things – they will be watching a main character either lose one or both of their parents or they are growing up without any at all.
Characters as case in point – Frozen’s Elsa and Anna lose both of their parents within one song of the film; Lion King where Mufasa loses his life; Belle in Beauty and the Beast grows up without a mothering influence.
Cinderella is also introduced to us without a mother from the get go, then loses her father in the early scenes of the film.
And perhaps the most famous ‘death scene’ that Disney offers up is that of Bambi’s mother, being shot by a hunter.
So it’s clear that death and Disney seem to go hand in hand. However, it seems there could be a very good reason for this…
According to an expert in end-of-life communication, old favourites like The Lion King, Bambi and even newer hit Frozen can help children and adults alike come to terms with the idea of death and how to cope with it.
A study by the Omega-Journal of Death and Dying looked into how death is shown in children’s films, and found that characters are more than twice as likely to die than in movies aimed at adults.
The study leader, Professor Kelly Tenzek of the University at Buffalo, told the Mail Online: ‘These films can be used as conversation starters for difficult and taboo topics like death and dying.’
Professor Tenzek explains that these are important conversations to have with children: ‘We believe Disney and Pixar films are popular and accessible for children and adults so a difficult conversation can begin in a less threatening way earlier in life.’
She concluded by saying that parents can easily use a Disney plot as an organic opportunity to discuss death with their children as they get older.
‘I teach end of life communication. My goal is to educate and help people become more comfortable with the end of life. One way to do that is through these films’, she said.
What do you think? Did you use Disney as a chance to talk about death with your kids? Let us know in the comments box below.