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Pixar's Inside Out is a perfect way to talk to kids about their feelings

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

Girls Leadership helps parents ask kids: #HowDoYouFeel?

Pixar's latest film, Inside Out, is following in the footsteps of those before it, quickly captivating both children and parents alike. However, this film — which follows the adventures of an 11-year-old-girl and the feelings inside her mind — also offers the chance for parents and their children to have meaningful and impactful conversations surrounding emotional health.

Inside Out shares the story of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who loves hockey, being silly, her friends and her family. When Riley's family moves out of state, we see how it impacts her emotions and the important role each of those emotions plays. We meet each of Riley's core emotions — Joy, Disgust, Fear, Anger and Sadness — personified and brought to life by a delightful cast and creative team. Being able to see emotions like this is not only entertaining; it's an opportunity for education and awareness as well.

Rachel Simmons, co-founder of Girls Leadership, says Inside Out is the perfect opportunity for parents to expand the conversation about emotions and to help their children recognize and express what they're feeling.

"One of the best parts of this film is the way it turns emotions into characters," Simmons tells SheKnows. "Kids learn that our feelings help us act — in ways that we're proud of and in ways we may regret."

Emotional intelligence — knowing, respecting and communicating what you feel — is a crucial developmental skill, and Girls Leadership is using Inside Out to help parents talk about it with their children. Studies have shown that parents are the No. 1 influencers of girls all the way through high school, so having conversations about emotional health and intelligence can help create and strengthen important skills for the future. To help support families, Girls Leadership has developed a discussion guide that goes along with the movie and that offers opportunities to get children talking about their feelings in a healthy and helpful way. The discussion guide works for both girls and boys and is a template to help families talk about emotions in a healthy way.

"We want our kids to see emotions as something not just to pay attention to but respect," Simmons stresses. "When kids take their feelings seriously, they feel more confident about speaking up, taking on challenges and making changes in their lives."

Simmons was on Good Morning America earlier today, talking about Inside Out, and offered three tips for parents when it comes to dealing with their kid's emotions:

  1. Don't minimize or deny your child's feelings.

  2. Acknowledge that all feelings matter.

  3. Use "emotion" words in your own conversations to help kids develop their ability to express themselves.

You can continue the conversation on emotional intelligence and Inside Out with @RachelJSimmons and @GirlsLeadership this Friday, June 26, 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST with their #HowDoYouFeel and #InsideOut Twitter chat!

More on kids and emotions

How to help kids manage their emotions
Help your child understand emotions
Helping your teen deal with life fears

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