Nurture Self-control: 5 Movies to Do it

by Elnaz Nazeran

Have you ever tried to add a healthy habit to your daily life? Many of us are suffering from some bad habits. We all have been attempting to replace them once in a while, but we couldn’t succeed. Psychology says the main reason we can’t keep our commitment to change habits is a weakness of self-control. Self-control is the ability to regulate behaviors, emotions, and thoughts to avoid temptations, impulses and, in the end, to achieve our goals (1)(2).  We need to nurture self-control to develop a strong mindset.

As you know, the importance of self-control is undeniable, but how can we promote our self-control? Most of the things you should work on depending on your personality, but 27% of respondents in the research said the lack of willpower is the main reason that keeps them from reaching their goals (3). To nurture self-control and willpower, movies can play a very inspiring and informative role. 

Why is maintaining self-control important for my children’s development?

Self-control can be an essential skill for your children’s development since the researches show children with lower self-regulation experience depression, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors in school more likely (8). They also might make less academic progress than others (9). 

Also, children with higher impulse control are capable of thinking more before answering and have better critical thinking skills to face and solve problems. These children can tolerate frustration with problem-solving too. Anyway, the good news is self-control is a learned skill that you can teach your children and nurture self-control in them.

List of Movies That Nurture Self-control

So, here are some of the helpful movies to nurture self-control and suitable for children: 

Little Women (2019) 

Little Women for self-control

Little women is a novel-based movie that Jo March reflects on her and her other four sister’s life. March sisters enter womanhood, a new journey, and go through ups and downs. This movie can help to find that sometimes we should give away things we love or delay the gratification to attend to our goals and be successful in life (4). 

Anne of Green Gables the Movie (1985)

Anne of Green Gables for self-control

Anne is an orphan girl sent to a couple by mistake, but they accept her, and her life takes a turn. Movies about emotions help us know that anger, loneliness, and fear exist in everyone. Still, we need to learn how to manage and control our behavior to act mature, which we gain by promoting self-control (5). The subject has been handled many times. You can check the versions dated 1934 and 2016 as well.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag for self-control

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is a real-life story about an Olympian runner, Milkha Singh, who has overcome his fear, vulnerabilities, desires, and downfalls. He lost the biggest race of his life, but he finds his power through the darkness. Researchers say self-control is a limited source, but in the long-term, it will improve by self-control exercising tasks like what Milkha has done as a role model in this movie (6). 

Angry Birds the Movie (2016)

Angry Birds for self-control

This movie is about three birds named Red, Chuck, and Bomb who will find out what the green pigs are up to. As we see in this movie, the one who has good emotional self-control could know themselves to manage and control emotions and impulses to decide and think better in hard situations. Self-awareness also helps to understand weaknesses and strengths and then accept them as Red did and turn his weaknesses into strengths.

Thumbsucker (2005)

Thumbsucker for self-control

Justin is a 17-years old boy who is still addicted to sucking his thumb. He finds a therapist to get rid of this issue, but he makes more issues for himself and others. You can find the answer to why self-control is important in this movie because, as the research says, self-control has a higher score than IQ (7) since people can get rid of bad habits by promoting self-control.

However, the benefits of nurturing self-control are not limited to managing behaves and impulses because research showed that from childhood till adulthood, the one with higher self-control maintained more healthy behaviors (4). They will reach their long-term goals more than others as well. 


1-Duckworth A, Grant H, Loew B, Oettingen G, Gollwitzer P. Self‐regulation strategies improve self‐discipline in adolescents: Benefits of mental contrasting and implementation intentions. Educ Psychol (Lond). 2011;31(1):17-26. doi:10.1080/01443410.2010.506003
2- DeLisi M (2014). Chapter 10: Low Self-Control Is a Brain-Based Disorder. SAGE Publications Ltd. doi:10.4135/9781483349114. ISBN 9781452242255. Retrieved 4 May 2014
3-American Psychological Association. Stress in America: Our Health at Risk. Published January 11, 2012.
4– Moffitt TE, Arseneault L, Belsky D, et al. A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011;108(7):2693-8. doi:10.1073/pnas.1010076108
5– Timpano KR, Schmidt NB (February 2013). “The relationship between self-control deficits and hoarding: a multimethod investigation across three samples”. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 122 (1): 13–25. CiteSeerX
6-Hagger MS, Wood C, Stiff C, Chatzisarantis NL. Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull. 2010;136(4):495-525. doi:10.1037/a0019486
7 Duckworth AL, Seligman MEP. Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychol Sci. 2005;16(12):939-44.
8Martel et al 2007; Eisenberg et al 2010; Raaijmakers et al 2008; Ellis et al 2009.
9-McClelland et al 2007; Welsh et al 2010; McClelland et al 2014

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