If your pint-sized child has been talking about going to the movies nonstop for weeks, you might be wondering if she will be able to sit through the entire film. So at what age can your toddler go to the movies? Because tears and tantrums (from you, not your child) isn't exactly the ideal movie going experience.
"It's tough to nail down the ‘right’ age to start taking kids to the movies,” Amanda K. Darnley, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist, tells Romper. “Some kids are ready when they are toddlers, while others will need to wait a bit longer.” If you want to take your child to a movie, contemplate all the potential issues that you might encounter. “If your child is afraid of the dark, or startles at loud noises, he might not be ready to go,” advises Dr. Darnley. After all, you don’t want to assume that your kid will be just fine once the lights go down and the music starts blaring before realizing that it might be too much for him.
When it comes to movies, timing is everything. If your kiddo can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes, he might not make it through a 90-minute movie. “Consider skipping the previews if you know your child will have difficulty sitting still for too long,” Sherianna Boyle, an adjunct psychology professor and author of The Conscious Parenting Guide to Childhood Anxiety, tells Romper. That way, you’ll buy yourself some more time — and hopefully the chance that your kid will sit tight for most of the movie. And if your child still naps, try to select movie show times that work for her sleep schedule.
No matter how many snacks or reassurances you offer your kid, she just might be done with her movie-going experience... 15 minutes into the film. “If your child starts hinting that she wants to leave by either becoming restless or by telling you it's scary, quietly remove her from the theater for a short break,” Sherrie MacLean, an early childhood education expert and National Director of Operations at Tiny Hoppers, tells Romper. If she's still unsettled, don’t get upset or frustrated with her. Just gather your belongings (and your kiddo) and head towards the exit.
Even if you're upset by your first movie outing (and maybe feel like you wasted your hard-earned dollars), try not to be disappointed. After all, it’s better to not force your kid to sit through a flick when she’s not ready for it. “You can reassure her that you’ll try again in the future,” says Dr. Darnley. So take a deep breath, head home, and put on a movie that you can watch comfortably together instead.
Before you buy those tickets online, consider these tips to determine if your child is really ready to go to the movie theater... and how to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone, including you.
Amanda K. Darnley, Psy.D., licensed psychologist
Sherianna Boyle, adjunct psychology professor and author
Sherrie MacLean, early childhood education expert and National Director of Operations at Tiny Hoppers