Taking a child to his or her first movie - Some things for parents to keep in mind

January 16, 1997

Taking a child to his or her first movie

Some things for parents to keep in mind


Staff Writer

Lou Radakovich knows that going to a theater to see a movie for the first time is a big deal for a little kid.

"I don't think adults appreciate what a big deal it is," says Radakovich, who has owned Waynesboro Theatre on Main Street in Waynesboro, Pa., for about 20 years. "They'll remember this forever."


Children will remember the experience whether it is good or bad, Radakovich adds.

What can you do to help make the experience a good one? Here are some things to think about.

Is your child old enough?

This, of course, depends on the child. Becky Weaver, co-owner/co-director of The Growing Tree preschool in Boonsboro believes 4-year-olds and kindergartners are ready to go to the movies.

It's hard for younger children to sit that long, she says.

Her partner, Sue Barnes, says it's good when the children are old enough to understand the difference between real and pretend.

Radakovich believes that 3 is a good age. Younger children may have difficulty concentrating. They also may be frightened by the noise.

Is the film appropriate for your child?

Although the movie rating system provides some guidance to parents, it's not foolproof. A G rating means no violence, no sexual innuendo and no profanity. But a G rating doesn't guarantee anything, according to Radakovich.

Jason Bartholow, manager at Hagerstown Cinema 10 on Leitersburg Pike in Hagerstown, says it's pretty much common sense. He and his staff try to guide adults bringing children to a movie that isn't suitable. He has pamphlets on the rating system available to his customers if they have questions.

Stephanie Smith of Rohrersville says her children have seen only Disney movies so far. They are short enough, and although the children enjoy them, they can be a little scary. She tells the children to close their eyes or turn their faces from offending scenes, and frequently reminds them that it's just a movie.

Should it be animation or live action?

Radakovich's experience tells him that young children prefer animated films. It's the color, movement, music and sound that is appealing.

"The story is really incidental to the small ones," he says.

Smith says her children, Olivia, 4, Nicholas, 3, and Audrey, 2, will watch action movies if there are kids in them, but they prefer animated films. Ten-month-old Abigail has yet to express a preference.

To snack or not to snack?

Again, preparation is key. Smith says sometimes she buys snacks and sometimes she doesn't, but the children know what to expect before they get to the theater.

Radakovich says that small children can be overwhelmed by the candy counter. Parents don't think about how excited the children are.

"We've had kids get sick," he adds.

On etiquette.

What do you do if your kid is screaming and crying and being really disruptive in the movie theater? Bartholow advises parents to be considerate of other audience members. His theater will offer a "rain check" if the child has to be removed from the theater within a reasonable amount of time of the film's beginning.

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