It’s not always easy finding a movie or TV show that doesn’t negatively impact a highly sensitive child. From years of advice passed from parents in the Happy Sensitive Kids Community here’s a list of movies and shows that have passed the highly sensitive kids test.
Please remember that each child is different and reacts differently to scenes in shows and movies – you know your own child best when it comes to suitable viewing material.
It is also worth noting that watching a movie in the cinema is a more intense experience for HSCs than watching at home. Here’s more on making it a successful trip to the movie theatre with a HSC: 7 Tips to Make a Highly Sensitive Child’s First Trip to the Cinema a Success.
TV Shows for Younger Children
Kipper the Dog
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Thomas the Tank Engine: Mine are now a bit old for Thomas but when they were little Thomas was a huge hit, in particular the films, which were played over and over.
The Magic School Bus: Emmy award winning educational series
Winnie the Pooh: A loveable classic that is as innocent as it gets on TV, if you accept that Pooh Bear thinks it wise to wear a T-shirt but no pants…….
Bob the Builder
Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs
Go Diego Go
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
TV Shows for Older Children
LEGO series: Huge hits with my three sons (ages 6, 8 and 11). The Lego Ninjago series is a particular favourite.
Sending Mit Der Maus: German series
Checkpoint: Dutch program which my three boys LOVE. There’s lots of crazy experiments and tests done, resulting in lots of explosions and things being blown up. A real hit. Aimed at children 9-12 but my 6 and 8 year old are as immersed in it as their elder brother.
Klokhuis: Dutch program on NPO Zapp explaining why and how on a wide range of topics.
Movies for Children
Toy Story: Some children may find Sid and his mutilated toys scary in the first Toy Story. I would put a caution warning on Toy Story 3 for younger children. In the Netherlands Toy Story is rated an AL, which means suitable for all ages. However the UK rates as a PG, which means parental guidance is advisable.
Storks: There is peril in this film but there is always a safe ending.
Boss Baby: Recommended for 6 and over, with some potentially scary scenes when one character imagines looming figures. Humour is probably more for older children and is about sibling rivalry.
The Secret Life of Pets: The animals in this movie are in peril. Common sense media states suitable for children 7-10, depending on whether you believe the kids or the parents.
Stuart Little: For kids aged 5 or 6 up, with small amounts of peril (Stuart is a mouse who is regularly chased by a cat).
Mary Poppins: An oldie but my goodness a goodie. Still trying to convince my sons to give this classic a go……
The Sound of Music: Watch out in the last ten minutes as some HSCs might find it too much.
Robin Hood (Disney)
My Neighbour Totoro
Sing: Contains characters in peril, but in general a fun, song filled movie for kids aged 6 up. My three have watched this a couple of times – and love the music.
Moomins on the Riviera
Cars: These movies can be loud, there is name calling in the first movie and the action is fast paced. Watch out for car crashes, the part where Lightening gets lost and another scene they are chased by Frank – all potential wobble moments for HSCs. In general though, my kids have loved all three of the Cars movies. Cars 2 is probably best left for older children – there’s a ‘torture’ scene at the beginning for a start and a fair bit of shooting and peril.
The Land Before Time: note that there are some sad scenes, young dinosaurs are chased by predators and natural disasters feature.
Given: This is about a family exploring different cultures.
Inside Out: A movie about big emotions and one that is possibly too complex for really young viewers. Aged 7 or 8 upwards is a good guide.
Despicable Me Films: Massive hits in our house. The minions are loved and my children often make lots of random minion noises…… 6+ rating but take care with adopted children watching the first movie. The second movie carries a HSC parent warning too – the minion turn into frenzied purple minions, which can be a bit scary for younger children.
Movies for Older Children (12+)
Star Wars: There is a great age by age guide on Common Sense Media for Star Wars fans.
The Hobbit: Rated as PG 13 though Common Sense Media states 11 as an appropriate viewing age. There’s violence and scary scenes so very child dependent.
Men in Black: A movie for tweens, but again violence and scary scenes so you are the best judge if it is something for your 12/13 year old.
Films That We Had to Switch Off and Try Again a Few Years Later…..
For what it’s worth we have had a few mishaps over the years, films we started but had to cut short as they were too scary, too intense, too emotional……. Often as a year or more go by it’s worth trying again. And as I have said more than once in this post: every child is different. One of my sons has found something way too much whilst his younger brother is totally unfazed. It’s a learning process!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: the Grinch freaked my eldest two out the first time we picked this film as the family Christmas movie. A year later they loved it.
The Boxtrolls: we recently watched this and it was enjoyed by all but we did try this previously and switched it off. Lots of scenes set at night, characters in peril, scary looking villains.
Pete’s Dragon (2016 remake version)
Evergreen List – Add Your Suggestions
This list will be continually updated and added to. If you have comments on any of the shows or movies listed here please let me know in the comments. If your HSC loves a movie or TV program that is not listed then get in touch and I will add it. Together we can create the ultimate HSC friendly list!