My family just finished watching Zootopia together. What a brilliant film for teaching children to keep focusing on their goals and never quit! There is a lot of other wisdom in this film as well including prejudice, the law of reaping what we sew, and that the key to strong, deep relationships is vulnerability. Disney has begun to put out some really worthwhile films in the last few years that have moved away from overly simplified love stories and toward themes that every person wrestles with. Without ruining the plot, today I’ll provide a few tips on how to help your children learn from the wisdom the story offers.
While there are many worthwhile themes in Zootopia, the first that stands out to me is that you can accomplish seemingly impossible feats if you are laser focused on your goals. Part of this lesson, that wasn’t covered in the film, is that you must know yourself well in order to reach your highest potential. Are you willing to get to know your children and yourself well enough to understand what deeply motivates you? If not, this is an opportunity to begin. When you understand your children, you are better prepared to offer them great advice when they are thinking about their future. When you understand yourself, you show your children that it is a worthwhile pursuit and that they do not need to fear themselves or their faults.
A second theme is that prejudice hurts everyone involved either directly or indirectly. When you judge and assume that people fit into categories and beliefs you’ve grown up with, you are limiting yourself and the person you are judging. You will also judge yourself far harsher than you need to because you will constantly be measuring yourself up to those same categories and beliefs.
Thirdly, throughout the story, the main character consistently receives the matured fruit of the plants that she previously put into the ground as seeds. I don’t believe this theme can be overstated in life. While every seed has its own germination period, each seed will produce a certain type of plant over time. In life, you reap what you sew! Maybe not in every single short-term circumstance, but definitely over long term periods of time and character building.
Fourth, apologies and vulnerability are priceless for healthy, strong, deep relationships. If you know this well, your kids probably already understand it. If this is something you don’t understand well… Time to watch the movie and practice these ideas in life. At some point, remind me to write a post about the relationship between vulnerability and healthy relationships.
Lastly, failure equals growth and learning. If you are not growing as a human being it is most likely because you aren’t failing. Human beings learn through failure and mistakes. Here’s a key point, however… you must make use of failures in order to learn rather than simply repeating the same mistakes day after day without learning (remember the definition of insanity?). I encourage you to become a person who puts all of these ideas together and begins seeing failure as an opportunity for growth rather than pointing to something inferior in yourself.
Here are a few tips to help your kids believe in their dreams and actually chase them:
1. Watch Zootopia as a family and spend a lot of time pausing the film and discussing what is happening and why. I’ve outlined the themes that stand out most to me, but if you ask your kids questions they will pull out other important themes as well.
2. Find times in daily life when you can celebrate people’s failures. This may begin by seeing it in others, but eventually you want to begin having failure celebrations at home for your own failures. This is not really a celebration of failure. It is a celebration of learning and growth.
3. Download the theme song from Zootopia “Try Everything”by Shakira. Download the lyrics as well and then listen to it often with your kids. It is a catchy song with fantastic thoughts on the relationship between failure and growth. You will most likely get tired of hearing it long before your kids do (even if they’re a little older) and the repetition of the words will have a significant impact on how your kids think. An added bonus is that it will help you with your own mindset 🙂
Here’s to the hope that our kids will be far healthier in mindset than ourselves and will have the ability to make this world so much better because of it!