The movie “Inside Out” is based on 5 different emotions a person is faced with from birth and throughout childhood. The first emotion shown as a baby is joy, quickly followed by sadness. The movie continues to show how the other emotions appear as we witness Riley, the main character, engage in different life experiences. Throughout the movie, we can see how emotions struggle with taking the lead and ultimate control over Riley. “Inside Out” does a phenomenal job illustrating the emotional conflicts children can go through. The constant battle between joy and sadness. As in real life, sadness is often misunderstood and disliked. The movie illustrates how other emotions do not see the value sadness has. By the end of the movie joy realizes how important sadness is and how sometimes we need to allow some sadness in order to experience joy.

“Inside Out” explains how vital and important emotions are. It allows a way to help children identify with 5 emotions including joy, sadness, disgust, fear and anger. However, adults should not underestimate this movie. The movie is not only intended for children but for adults as well. Many parents experienced some teary moments during the movie specifically when we witness how a child’s fundamental traits can easily fall apart. There are many lessons we can learn from this hit movie “Inside Out”.

Below are at least 4 Ways to Help Children Cope with Emotions Based on the Movie:

1. How to identify emotions: Even though the movie only focused on 5 main emotions, it is important to teach children how to identify their emotions. Children should understand that ALL emotions are needed and they are equally important. Emotions play an important role as they guide our perceptions of the world. It is important for children to understand that it is okay to have emotions and identifying them could help them better understand what is happening.

2. Validate emotions: Emotions are usually intense and for a child it could become overwhelming. To validate a child’s emotion allows the child to feel somewhat normal. It allows them an opportunity to accept their feelings and not repress them. As adults, especially parents, it is very important to offer this validation for the child. Validation would also encourage the child the safety to freely express himself in an effective way.

3. How to express emotions: Behavioral changes depend on emotions. Expressing your emotions can manifest in a negative or positive way. Most children, and sometimes adults, would act out their emotions because it is too overwhelming for them. Anger is a famous emotion that gets a negative connotation due to ineffective expression. Anger is a necessary emotion and is not a bad one. How we react to anger is usually what gets us in trouble. Teaching children effective ways to express emotions could lead to healthier relationships and social interactions. It could also avoid anxiety and increase communication skills.

4. How to regulate emotions: After children learn how to identify, validate and express our emotions, they can then regulate them allowing them to have control over impulses and behaviors. It is ok to teach children that emotions can dictate behaviors but we can regulate these behaviors. For instance, it ok to feel anger and manage it effectively allowing the body to calm down and regulate without harming anyone or anything. Regulating emotions allows a child to feel like they still have control even though they feel too overwhelmed and out of control. It is a friendly reminder that we will feel things and remain calm.

Emotions are part of our everyday life. As the movie illustrated, we experience them as soon as we are born. Children are too young to know what these emotions are and what they are capable of doing. An inability to cope with emotions can lead to problematic behavior problems during childhood and thereafter. There are many resources and tools adults can use to help children with emotions. Seek professional help if you feel a child is exhibiting extreme difficulties coping with situations or feelings.

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Author: Mayeling Angelastro, MA is an Orlando Winter Park Bilingual (Espanol) Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern providing help to couples, families, couples, children and teenagers with offices in Winter Park and East Orlando.  (407) 248-0030