Have you ever asked yourself what could possibly be going on inside your child’s head? Well now you can thanks to the new Disney movie Inside Out. The movie illustrates how a kid’s mind can be a pretty complicated place. The movie shows an 11 year old child, Riley growing up and learning how to handle her biggest emotions. Ultimately, Inside Out has important messages about needing to feel and express all of your emotions, whether happy or sad.
The essence of the story is to appreciate all of our emotions. The main character, Riley has the following emotions in her head that all of us have: joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger. Admittedly Fear, Disgust and Anger don’t come across quite as favorable as the other two do. Still, Sadness illustrated that life is full of a mixture of sentiments. That message will likely go over the heads of little ones who will be more entertained by the colorful animation and slapstick antics. Yet for older children and tweens, Inside Out can be a good way to begin a conversation about the importance of giving voice to all of our feelings.
What can parents to do to help their kids with their emotions?
- Ask them how they are feeling. For example, facilitate conversations about situations that occurred during the day the triggered a feeling in your child. This helps them not only practice talking about emotions but as they talk it out, they can also create meaning and understanding about how and why they feel that way.
- Parents can watch this movie, Inside out, with their kids and talk about it afterwards. Discuss if your child could relate to Riley. What did they learn from it? What can they try to do next time they feel sad, fear or disgust?
How to use this movie to facilitate dialogue with your child?
- After watching the movie, parents can talk to their kids about why it was hard for Riley to tell her parents how she’s feeling. Is it ok for them to ask her to be their “happy girl”? If Riley is not really in a happy state of mind, how do you think that makes her feel? Have you ever felt like you had to feel a certain way to please someone else? Did you feel that was fair?
- What does it mean to have “mixed emotions” about something? How do all of our different feelings relate to each other? For example, can you have joy without sadness? Why is it important to feel a range of emotions?
- In the movie, Riley was thinking of running away from home. What problem did she think running away will fix? Why is she wrong? What could have happened to her if she’d gone through with her plan? Parents, please talk to your kids about why Riley’s idea (and how she went about trying to accomplish it) is not an example to follow.
- Ask your kids what do you think your own emotions might look and talk like? What about those of your friends and family members? You could even ask your kids to draw what they think might be going on inside their own head for a fun activity together.
Reference: Adapted from the movie review of Inside Out written by Betsy Bozdech.