4 Movies to Build Resilience in Children

Resilience isn't an ability that children are born with. It's something that can and should be built. In this article, you'll discover how to build resilience with movies.
4 Movies to Build Resilience in Children
Azucena Fernández

Written and verified by the teacher Azucena Fernández.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Children have the ability to overcome problems and cope with stress. Resilience is the ability to recover from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. Today, we’ll talk about some movies to build resilience in children.

Resilience isn’t something that children have or don’t have – it’s a skill they develop as they grow. Children with this ability are better able to cope because they aren’t afraid to live up to expectations.

Resilient children are curious, brave, and are more self-confident. They know their limits and strive to leave their comfort zone. This helps them achieve their long-term goals and solve problems on their own.

We can say that resilience is the ability of humans to face and overcome crises.

How to build resilience in children

This requires two stages:

  • Resistance to adversity. To make sure that circumstances don’t get the best of them, the child must manage to maintain a positive attitude and deal with problems objectively, calmly, and with humor.
  • The ability to calm down and move on. For a child to know how to rebuild themselves after a painful situation, you must teach them to see negative situations as opportunities to improve and learn from their mistakes.
4 Movies to Build Resilience in Children

It’s important to instill these attitudes in children and help them develop them when they face a problem or difficulty. If you teach children to deal with difficulties this way, you’ll instill the ability of resilience in them.

The following movies tell stories of achievement and optimism and address the key issue of the importance of fighting for what you believe in. They can help build resilience in a fun way.

4 movies to build resilience in children

Life Is Beautiful

Roberto Benigni portrays the optimistic owner of an Italian Jewish bookstore, Guido Orefice. Benigni’s character manages to stay optimistic despite the tragedy that he faces. The story is partly based on the real experiences of Rubino Romeo Salmoni, a Jew who managed to survive the Nazi Holocaust.

The film received critical acclaim and Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film also won the Oscar for Best Original Score and Best Foreign Language Film.

The Pursuit of Happyness, one of the films to build resilience

The Pursuit of Happyness is a film based on Chris Gardner’s life. In 1981, Gardner (Will Smith) tries to support himself and his five-year-old son, Christopher (Jaden Smith). Life doesn’t make things easy for him.

Although adversity comes knocking at their door, both father and son teach us that, with perseverance and love, people can face adversity and achieve their dreams. Gardner never seeks to evoke pity in others. Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Actor due to his great performance.

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot is an 11-year-old boy who lives in a mining town in northeast England in 1984. In the movie, Billy rides the wave of curiosity, letting his instincts guide him. But he feels that dancing isn’t socially accepted.

4 Movies to Build Resilience in Children
© BBC Films

He faces many difficulties along the way and with others, including his own family, but works hard and gives himself completely. He focuses on his positive emotions, which are more powerful than the negative ones. In the end, his family supports him and he reaches his goal: to be accepted into the Royal Ballet School.

“Sorta feels good. Sorta stiff and that, but once I get going… then I like, forget everything. And… sorta disappear. Sorta disappear. Like I feel a change in my whole body. And I’ve got this fire in my body. I’m just there. Flyin’ like a bird. Like electricity. Yeah, like electricity.”

– Billy Elliot –


In Brave, we meet Princess Merida, who’s a great warrior. Merida fights stereotypes and is a firm advocate of self-confidence. This is the first Disney-Pixar film with a female hero.

Princess Merida does what she wants, following her instincts. This makes her face all kinds of adversity. Although she encounters problems, Merida knows that the most important thing for her is to be able to decide her own destiny.

Conclusions on these movies to build resilience in children

These movies to build resilience are the perfect tools to instill this ability in children. Remember that it’s very important to show children that you believe in them. Also, you should avoid overprotecting them, let them fall, and teach them ways to pick themselves up and move on.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Roberto Benigni. (1999). La vida es bella. Plaza & Janes.
  • Chris Gardner. (2018). En busca de la felicidad. Harper Collins.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.