Taking Kids to the Movie Theater...

Updated on November 27, 2011
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
16 answers

My kids will be 4 and 6 in January.... We did take them to see Kung Fu Panda 2 a few months ago and they did OK. We went today to see Happy Feet Too (Very cute movie BTW). They started having problems sitting in their seats big time. We made it through the movie, but frankly I was frustrated. We fed them right before we went to the movie. We went to the first morning movie where it wasn't crowded. I brought a sippy cup for my youngest and a water bottle for my oldest. It was an IMAX 3D movie, so it was much more interactive. This was a HUGE treat for us to go to this. The IMAX 3D movies are $12 per ticket. I'd love to be able to do a movie every so often as a treat, but I definitely don't want to spend the entire time trying to get my kids to stay in their seats. What am I doing wrong here? Am I just expecting too much for them to be able to sit through an entire movie? I can remember going to movies at this age....

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answers from Denver on

I think it's totally normal. Don't give up - they will have their bad days. Maybe go to a "cheapie" movie, and tell them if they don't stay in their seats, you will leave. If they don't sit still, then leave. The consequences may do more of the teaching. Also, on a lesser level, maybe bring some healthy snacks for them.



answers from Nashville on

That might just be a one time event. You did say you took them to the other movie and they did ok, so Happy Feet might have taken longer than expected. I took my kids to see Happy feet 2 and they were also getting antsy toward the end...

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answers from Savannah on

My kids do GREAT at movies at 2 and 5 (the oldest first went when he was 2 and the youngest at 1). The secret is to do what you probably don't want to: give them popcorn! I bring along my own containers to pour the theater's popcorn into to "ration" it so they eat a little slower. As long as there's popcorn, there's a couple happy, content kids. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My 5 year old son and I just got back from the Muppets movie :) We haven't been to a theater since June so it's a great treat for us. We have been going to movies together since he was 3.

I think a lot of it depends on the kid, but what works for us is to get clear about the ground rules before hand. And practice in a way that doesn't cost a fortune while they're learning.

We try to follow our movie theater rules when we watch movies at HOME. He can do what he wants when he watches his own shows and stuff, but when we sit down as a family to watch a movie, we turn out the lights and watch like we're in a theater. We can laugh at funny parts etc., but if we have questions we DON'T talk during the movie. We just keep watching and hope to figure it out, or ask when the movie is over.

Why not try some movie nights at home until they are good at sitting still through a full movie? Then go back to the theater. Skip the 3D (the extra stimuli can make it even harder for kids to stay still) and opt for a cheap matinee so you won't be afraid to leave if it's not working for you.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Like a lot of these ladies are saying, it really depends on the child. My son was watching movies in theaters at 2 (and sitting like a little statue through them). And he's turned out to be a total movie freak now that he's 14. But my brother couldn't sit through a movie to save his life and as an adult, STILL gets antsy during movies. You can do everything right (and it sounds like you did) and some kids will still not be able to make it through movies. You could keep taking them, they may *learn* to sit though them, but that could be an expensive way for them to learn. Maybe for now it would be best to do movie nights at home. When they can get through those with no problem, it may be time to take them back to the theater.



answers from Orlando on

I think it depends on the kids and the movie. My little one is a tv junkie (as much as we limit her viewing time, if the tv is on, she is glued). She has always loved the movie theatre. We took her to her first movie at 15 months (the free summer movie camp) She went to two or three movies that summer. Last November we took her to see Tangled (our first paid movie with a kiddo- she is still free though) and I don't think she blinked the entire movie. She is still in love with Rapunzel.
The free summer movie camp cost a dollar this past summer but daddy would take her and I stayed home with her new baby sister. My husband is a teacher so this was some special time that they had each week. It was worth the dollar each week (plus usually lunch date after the movie)

On Thanksgiving my parents watched our 8 month old and we took our 2 1/2 year old to see The Muppets. She LOVED it. This was our first live action movie in a LONG time (alivin and the chipmunks didn't go too well a couple sumemrs ago) We couldn't believe how well she liked it. The only time she got up was to go potty once.

I would wait and do the low cost movies, it's just like anything they have to learn how to behave. If it's not something they can sit through and enjoy, it might not be worth it for a little while. :)



answers from Atlanta on

My kids hate 3D movies! They're 3 and 5 and we just go to the regular ones because they don't like the glasses or the feel of the 3D. I also give both of mine their favorite candy to eat with their popcorn, and they sit there mesmerized. Depending on the length of the film though, kids that age usually get squirmy. 90 minutes is a long time for them to sit still, so we shoot for movies closer to an hour.



answers from Tampa on

ok, well first of all, I have a hard time sitting through IMAX without getting antsy. Something about it makes me far more exciteable and I just have this uncontrollable urge to MOVE. LOL! Second, your kids are totally NORMAL! They are doing fine, and I would continue to take them to movies, maybe not imax ones, but still movies, and enjoy time with them. Remind them of the "rules" before you go, and they will eventually get it. It's hard. I would do as the other posters suggested, and follow the same type of "rules" while watching movies at home together. Lights off, snacks with you, bathroom before it starts, and then no talking duringf the movie if you can help it. Sit still for the whole movie. I guarentee with age they will get it. They are NOT too young. Really, when I go to a theatre showing a childrens movie I do NOT expect it to be silent the whole time, and I expect a child or 2 to say something funny or cute. It adds to my movie experience in my opinion. (Not saying that they should have a full conversation, but I have heard parents going OFF on their kids for saying something out loud in theatres and I thought it was adorable) As long as your child isn't disrupting the movie for all the other patrons, I am certain that the other parents could care less how well they sit and watch. We all have little ones, and understand how it is to teach them movie etiquitte. Oh, one last note.............. I still TO THIS DAY, cannot get MY MOTHER to sit and watch en entire movie with me at home or in a theatre. SHE is the worst at this. She will ask me what is going to happen next, or who is that, etc. It's SOOOO funny because I have NO IDEA why she thinks I know. Usually I am seeing the movie for the 1st time as well! AAARGH! I love my Mom SO much, but that is so frustrating! We took her to see Dolphin tale with my 8 and 10 yr old, and THEY had to ask her to please be quiet. :) Gotta LOVE kids!



answers from Washington DC on

If they are used to watching movies on TV (or even just TV programs that are shorter) at home, then they are also used to being able to move around, to talking and reacting out loud, to being able to stop and start the program if it's on DVD, etc. They have no real concept that in a theatre you cannot be popping up and down, going to the bathroom several times (and missing things, because the film won't stop for you), talking out loud, etc. I would for now check the movies you see in theatres carefully and ensure they are short (the latest Winnie the Pooh was just a few minutes over an hour long, for instance, but many animated movies these days are a full 90 minutes or more) and that they really are appropriate. A lot of movies are SO full of loud music, loud noise, constant action that I don't see how anyone can stand them for more than 15 minutes. The huge screen and especially the IMAX versions can totally overwhelm some kids and make them upset if not just restless.

Check out all movies beforehand. One mom posted on here about how shocked she was at the "violence" in "Puss In Boots" when she took her young daughter (whom I think was about 4), but she should have checked all the reviews and paid more attention; it's a movie we all loved, but clearly it's not appropriate for a kid that young in length or subject matter or amount of action. (My daughter's 10 and it's more for that age.) There are plenty of online review sites aimed at parents choosing films for kids to see.

You can remember going to movies at this age and I can too, but the movies back then were nowhere near as loud, action-packed, busy, in-your-face or halfway aimed at grownups as "kids" movies are today. I am not against them at all but I think kids may need to be older to really understand or appreciate a lot of today's kids' movies, and parents may need to forego many of the PG ones in favor of straight G movies -- which is more boring for parents but maybe better for little ones.

Also - be sure you are not getting there so early that the kids have to wait through the long advertisements and other junk they put on the screen before the actual film begins. We sat for a full 25 minutes of advertisements and film ads before seeing "Puss in Boots." Imagine your younger kids having to sit through all that BEFORE the movie even starts.



answers from Dallas on

Is there anyway you can feed them during the movie? We have dining theaters by us, so we take our two boys (age 2 and 4) near a meal time and get them fruit and grilled cheese sandwiches. It seems to help the younger one.



answers from Chicago on

We do "movie night" at out house in the fall and winter. We turn off the lights, make popcorn and "rent" a new release for the kids we haven't seen or get one from the library.

I think movie theatres are hard for lots of little kids. They're pricey, it's usually really loud, I've found popcorn to be oversalted and they're expected to SIT for a long period of time.

I say skip the theatre, definitely the $12 tickets! We go to "cheap shows" where it's never a brand new release, never more than $5 for the kids and usually that early time slot where kids are expected to act perfect.

Best wishes.


answers from Medford on

They might not like all the wild interaction that happens in those IMAX 3D movies and it was way more than they can handle and still sit still. Or the food they had just before going kicked in and gave them a burst of energy..lol, cant win sometimes huh? My daughter takes her 4 yr old to the $1 movies here and lets her have popcorn. She does pretty well and if not, they havent spent a ton of money and can walk out as a punishment to help her learn how to behave better the next time. You just have to try and see how it goes. Dont waste big money on taking them until they have practiced a few times at less expensive places.



answers from Seattle on

This is the "all kids are different" thing again.

Some 2yos can sit through a 3 hour movie RAPT... and some 10yos can't stay in their seat to save their lives.

My son (and the other adhd kids) in my family have been in the first category... completely and totally absorbed in the film from toddlers on and all but superglued to their seats (may seem counterintuitive, but adhd kids have a thing called 'hyperfocus' that normal kids don't... it allows them to be completely absorbed for HOURS while their peers struggle with 30 minutes. NOT ALL adhd kids have a thing for the movies, but our family runs pretty strong with visual and audio attention grabbing). The non-adhd kids, it's really 50/50, and pretty much depends on the movie.

Just because YOU were rapt at this age, doesn't mean THEY are going to be. :(

Strong 2nd for the discount theatre that shows films when they're coming out on DVD. Ours is $3. Love, love, love and adore it.


answers from Washington DC on

All kids are different. I worked at a theater for a few years, so my oldest is really good at theaters because she was 3 and would go in and watch all the time (it's on base and she'd sit with my friend who was watching). My youngest, 4, has been doing really well for about 2 years also...before that it was awful.

My kids are 4, 6, and 8 and they know if they act up in movies we won't go back. But it took a lot of walking out for them to get it.

Your kids will get it too :).



answers from Los Angeles on

In a way I think you started too late. You really kind of have to take them when they are young and "train" them how to behave. In the summer see if any of your local theatres do a summer movie special. The movies are already on dvd sure but you pay like $5/person for a weekly pass to see 10 movies. Then you can train your kids. we get there early so we can go potty. I bring snacks (totally the norm for these movies) and we get a discount pass for popcorn. If they kids do not behave we leave and we skip the next week. If the movie is boring we will leave too. Occasionally we leave because it is bring but it only takes one or two times that we have left for behavior before my kids get the idea. It is a new experience so one they will have to get used to


answers from Chicago on

Depends on your kids. I know of kids that at two could do it at two, my son was better around 4 but sometimes two is harder than one. I would try the older one alone then the younger and go from there.

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