So, I went to see the movie “Inside Out”. It was cute, fun, colorful and full jokes for the adults. But, when viewed through a therapist’s eyes, there are lots of lessons to be learned about social interaction and social emotional functioning. These are concepts you can discuss with your child, even if he or she does not have struggles in these areas.
Here is what I learned:
- It is OK to feel sad. It is OK to cry when you feel sad. You cannot ignore sad feelings by covering them up or replacing them with feelings of joy. Sad feelings are powerful feelings that can be a conduit for change. Encourage your child to express sadness and to grieve when appropriate. Help them to identify those feelings and feel them.
- Sadness and joy can happen simultaneously. That can be confusing, especially to those who are literal thinkers or see the world in black and white. Guiding your child to verbalize “I’m sad about _____, and I’m happy about _____” can help your him sort out the two emotions and recognize each for their full value. Remember when Sadness had to stand in her circle? Maybe a drawing of two circles, one filled with the sad things and the other filled with happy things could be another tool to help your little one understand these two feelings.
- Memories are powerful and life shaping. Use pictures, video, scrapbooks and story telling to solidify memories. Link memories of past events to current happenings, especially when you are working through something hard. A reminder of a past success can help your child gain confidence.
- Anger is a strong emotion. Letting anger be the boss can lead to bad decisions. I love the concept of picturing anger as a firey little man that needs to be controlled with rational thinking and calming strategies. I did a lesson today on anger, in fact. I compared anger to a bottle of soda (with eyes and a scowl much like that little firey man) that gets shaken and shaken. Eventually, all the shaking makes the soda explode. By using calming strategies (counting, deep pressure, leaving the area or deep breathing) we can keep the soda in the bottle.
- I loved the islands and I think that analogy would be a great way to teach about the important things in life or to help a child explore the things in which he or she excels. Believe it or not, many children have a very hard time listing what that they do well. Making a giant poster (or Lego model or clay sculpture) of their “islands” would be a super way to help them explore those things and appreciate them.
So, take your kids to see this movie. Watch it for the sheer entertainment of it. Then, talk about it to teach social emotional life skills. These are valuable lessons for ALL children. I’m looking forward to the DVD because I’ll be using clips from this movie in many social skills lessons in the future! One Skill At A Time.