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Top 15 Movies About Change and Growth for Children

Top 15 Movies About Change and Growth for Children

Although change offers incredible opportunities for learning and growth, it isn’t easy, even for adults. Movies are an excellent tool to help children understand an optimistic approach to the big life changes we inevitably experience. We have put together a list of movies about change and growth with positive messages for children.

Watch these movies with your children, discuss them and enjoy the life lessons your children will learn in the process. You may also enjoy our lists of growth mindset movies and movies about friendship.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our FREE Your Words Matter Kit. With these 10 popular parenting guides, you will know exactly how to speak to your children to help them develop confidence, internal motivation, and a can-do attitude.

*Disclaimer: Parents, caregivers, and teachers are advised to watch or read about the movies to make sure they are appropriate for their children.

Top 15 Movies About Change and Growth for Children



Inside Out

Inside Out (2015)

11-year-old Riley’s life changes when her father’s job moves them from the Midwest to San Francisco. Her emotions -- Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger -- disagree over how to navigate the difficult experience. Although Riley struggles to adjust, she ultimately accepts life in San Francisco, even embracing new friends and new hobbies.

Rating PG

Happy Feet

Happy Feet (2006)

Emperor Penguins find their soulmates through song, which makes matters difficult for Mumble, who can only manage a croak. Mumble’s lack of singing skills eventually leads to his expulsion from the community. Fortunately, he meets new friends who help him discover that his true calling is tap dancing! This adorable movie has a great message about following your heart, even if it means dealing with some big changes.

Rating PG

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo (2003)

When the young clownfish Nemo is captured by scuba divers, his fearful father Marlin must venture outside of his comfort zone to find and save him. Meanwhile, Nemo determinedly plots to make his own escape. Children will love the beautiful animation while learning about overcoming life’s curveballs and obstacles.

Rating G

Secret Life of Pets  

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Max the terrier’s peaceful life is turned upside down when his owner takes in Duke, causing Max to struggle with jealousy. Max and Duke experience several misadventures together and ultimately form a true friendship. This movie is a fun way to speak to children about adjusting to new friendships or even a new addition to the family.

Rating PG

The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid (1984)

In this movie, perfect for older tweens and teens, Daniel and his mother move from New Jersey to California. At first, Daniel is harassed by a group of bullies. After Daniel learns karate from Mr. Miyagi, he earns the respect of the bullies. The movie teaches discipline, hard work, and perseverance in the face of challenges and change.

Rating PG

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 (2014)

A large inflatable robot and a child prodigy form a charming and unconventional friendship while teaming up with a band of high-tech heroes. Early in the film, the young prodigy’s older brother tragically dies. The movie provides the opportunity to speak about grief, love, loss, and healing. It also promotes the power of friendship and using your gifts to help others.

Rating PG


Piper (2016)

In this short animated film, a baby sandpiper is no longer being fed by her mother and must venture out to dig for food on her own. To get her own meals for the first time, Piper must overcome her fear of the ocean waves. At just six minutes long, it offers a short and sweet message about adapting to change, even when it feels scary.

Rating G


Brave (2012)

Free-spirited Princess Merida decides to create her own change by defying tradition (and her mother) and refusing to marry. When a witch gives her an enchanted cake to change her fate, Merida accidentally transforms her mother into a bear. Over the course of the movie, mother and daughter repair their bond and overcome their differences.

Rating PG

Toy Story

Toy Story (1995)

When a new spaceman toy arrives in a boy’s room, a cowboy doll, who is currently the boy’s favorite feels deeply threatened. By the end of the movie, the two toys have to come together to survive and make it back to the child they love. One of the most popular movies about growth and change, this film also depicts a positive experience of moving to a new house.

Rating G


Coco (2017)

Another animated film that addresses grief, Coco tells the story of an aspiring musician named Miguel. Desperate to confront his family’s ban on music, Miguel travels to the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a talented singer. In the end, Miguel’s relentless pursuit of his dream pays off.

Rating PG

The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

When a rainstorm washes Arlo the dinosaur downriver, he is separated from his parents and siblings. Miles from home, Arlo forms a surprising friendship with a Neanderthal boy named Spot. With Spot by his side, Arlo sets out on a journey to be reunited with his family. Along the way, he learns about friendship, self-discovery, confidence, and overcoming fear, no matter what life brings.

Rating PG


Zootopia (2016)

In the big city of Zootopia, a rural rabbit is fulfilling her dream of becoming a police officer. The rabbit does well at the academy but is assigned to parking duty by the police chief because she is a rabbit. Ultimately, she teams up with a con artist fox and they become a pair of unlikely heroes. In addition to teaching children about persevering in the face of change, the movie has a valuable message about fighting against stereotypes and prejudice.

Rating PG


Up (2009)

No list of movies about change and growth would be complete without this moving film about Carl, an elderly man who is ordered to move to a retirement home following the death of his wife. Instead, he sets out for Paradise Falls, a place he always dreamed of visiting with his wife Ellie. He’s accidentally joined by a young stowaway named Russell, and the two learn important lessons about love, life, and celebrating the small moments.

Rating PG

Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

A young witch in training, 13-year-old Kiki is required to move to a seaside town for a year of independent life. As she struggles to fit into a new community, Kiki starts her own flying courier service to support herself. Eventually, she begins doubting herself and losing her magical powers. To regain her skills, Kiki must learn to believe in herself again. This powerful story of change and growth also holds lessons about discovering our talents and passions and sharing them with others.

Rating G

Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe (2016)

This inspiring film follows the story of a young girl from the Ugandan village of Katwe, whose life forever changes when she discovers the game of chess. Based on a true story, the movie teaches valuable lessons about hope, strength, and overcoming adversity to achieve big dreams.

Rating PG


You can also check out the Big Life Journal Web TV Series, a collection of growth mindset videos on topics ranging from the power of perseverance to the importance of believing in yourself!


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