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  • Writer's pictureRay Diffley

The Unexpected Value of Home Movies on Child Development

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

It never fails, when our whole family is together (in one room with one TV) and there is a choice (argument?!) about what to watch, the hands down winner: home movies. That is assuming each child (of the three we have) makes at least a cameo appearance in the chosen video.

I used to watch these movies purely for the laughs and fun, you know, the haircuts, the fashion, the antics and even for the humor of (usually me) taping ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for stretches of time because there was really no editing ability.

But somewhere along the line, I started making the connection between these movies and child #development, particularly confidence and perspective. I began to see what I believe my kids saw, though they didn’t label it in psych 101 class terminology. My kids might comment while watching a video: “Oh my gosh I can’t believe I was like that!” Sometimes my wife and I would look at each other and think “Was I like that?” and other times we’d see that yes, they went through a phase and they outgrew it. That is a powerful thing to understand. There was something liberating about a 12-, 16- or 19-year-old looking back on themselves as a 2-, 4-, 8- or 10-year-old and seeing how one can be, and how one can change, or simply evolve into a bigger version of oneself. In all cases there is a perspective gained that can’t be “seen,” even by the precious grandparent relaying a story. You have to see it on video.

Ironically, I have been championing the use of video for #development of athletes for years. In fact, alternatively, I have asked, perhaps rhetorically, why YouTube isn’t full of “great classroom teaching moments.” Seems such a shame that academia hasn’t figured out a way to share what it “looks and sounds like” when a great teaching moment occurs; somehow we’ve left that to Hollywood (e.g. Dead Poet’s Society).

In fact, my final thought is this. When my son came across a “home movie” (in this case a local cable broadcast my own father had recorded) of me playing college hockey, he quickly saw I was not doing ANYTHING I was teaching him to do! Busted! Totally busted! While I quickly introduced him to the phrase ”Do as I say not as I do,” it was clear the relief and joy he took in knowing I was not (far from it, in fact) perfect. I quickly shared a feeble (but in a way, true) response, “If I only had someone to break down the video for me.”

The power of video on child #development, especially home movies seen in the comfort of a safe environment, is not to be underestimated. Bring on the popcorn! Want to learn more?  Email me at

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