I watched the much-talked about movie Beauty and the Beast recently with some girlfriends and I can safely say the movie transcends time and takes you to a magical place. For me, this place was childhood. And in it, we can find a number of important Beauty and the Beast lessons for children.
When I was a little girl, Beauty and the Beast was one of my all-time favourite stories. I would get my father to read the Brothers Grimm version over and over again until I am sure he was sick of it, but I never was.
Revisiting all this in movie form as an adult was simply magical; but now, I see it through a new lens – that of motherhood. This enchanting story is so much more than a simple fairy tale with a happy ending. It has some incredibly valuable life lessons for adults and children alike.
If you are thinking of taking your children to watch Beauty and the Beast, make the movie so much more meaningful to them by talking about these wonderful life lessons to be learnt from it, that are as wise and timeless as the story itself.
Beauty and the Beast Lessons for Children
1. What’s on the inside matters
When they are still young, children usually are not influenced by outer appearances. They recognise a beautiful heart, no matter what they see on the outside.
But as they grow older and approach their tween/teen years, outward appearances, more often than not, start to matter.
Teach your child to never lose that acceptance of a beautiful soul. A rough exterior can hide a heart of gold, and an ugly grimace can be the most beautiful, heartfelt smile, if you can learn to see through it, as the Beast shows us.
Also, a pretty face can hide a selfish and cruel heart, as shown by Gaston – who really is the true ‘Beast’ of the story.
2. Break stereotypes
“She’s different from the rest of us, she’s nothing like the rest of us, that Belle!”
We may live in the 21st century but in some countries and cultures, certain attitudes towards women and girls are still from the Middle Ages.
Belle’s character does a wonderful job at breaking some of these stereotypes. She’s not your typical girl and she doesn’t care that she isn’t – in fact, she embraces her uniqueness and lets it lead her to a place where her world is redefined.
3. Loyalty and friendship
These two themes run strong through the whole movie and offer little ones an important life lesson. Loyalty is seen in Belle’s relationship with her father, in the adorably animated household ‘objects’ such as Lumiere and Cogsworth, to their grumpy master, as well as other relationships in the movie.
Good friendships are a-plenty too in this movie, showing that loyalty and friendship really do go hand-in-hand.
Children are born with natural curiosity about the world… about everything really. But often in our bid to make them conform to societal rules, we unintentionally kill this thirst for knowledge.
Teach your child to be curious about the world, like Belle, and this will facilitate a natural learning process.
Teach your child to think beyond whatever four walls restrict them from realising their dreams, and to visualise it in their mind’s eye (like Belle did before she ‘escaped’ to Paris), and to work towards breaking those boundaries in order to live their own life the way they want to, someday.
5. Believe in yourself
Belle shows us the power of believing in yourself and in others, and how this can truly create magic in your life. Through the portrayal of her character, kids will learn that there really is no limit to what you can do when you believe in yourself.
Believing in the goodness of others despite what others might say, brings out the best in that person and you might just forge yourself a friendship or relationship that lasts a lifetime.
6. The power of love
It is love that bonds a mother to her child, parents to each other, parents to their children. The power of this emotion is the ultimate lesson taught in this movie.
While the nuances you’ll see – such as letting go of someone you love – might be too complex to teach your children, they will certainly be able to understand the love that is portrayed between a daughter and her father, between a husband and wife and between friends.
Mums and dads, it’s rare that a movie comes along that ticks all the right boxes. If you haven’t watched Beauty and the Beast with your kids yet, now’s the time to do it. And if you are concerned about the ‘gay scene’ in the movie, don’t be – I won’t reveal more than that!
Have you taken your kids to watch Beauty and the Beast yet? Leave a comment below and tell us what you thought of it.