By Goldie Millar and Lisa A. Berger, coauthors of F Is for Feelings
Children’s feelings are enjoying some time in the spotlight this summer! With the recent release of Pixar Studio’s animated feature film Inside Out, children’s feelings are being explored and celebrated.
Inside Out is the story of eleven-year-old Riley, a happy, hockey-loving girl from the Midwest. When her family moves to San Francisco, Riley’s emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—help her navigate the stress and difficulty from this new and challenging experience. The cute, personified emotions run a control booth in Riley’s mind, and we see how they react to everything that happens to Riley, react to each other, and affect what she does next.
This movie is proving to be a summer blockbuster with its amazing animation, celebrity character voice-overs, and witty quips and jokes for all ages—and it is all about feelings! As parents and caring adults, we can feel good about spending time with the children in our lives talking, learning, and sharing feelings.
In the movie, we not only learn about Riley’s feelings, but also her parents’. Everyone has feelings: children, parents, grandparents, and all other caring adults. Feelings are normal and part of being human. They drive our thinking, behavior, reactions, and experiences. They are a part of who we are. The more we can pay attention to our feelings, the better they are able to guide us in our lives and help us in difficult circumstances.
It can be helpful to remember that all feelings are okay, natural, and important. Riley experiences Joy, a comfortable emotion. We all love the feeling of being happy and excited. Talking about positive feelings is usually easy, comfortable, and socially acceptable, but happiness is not the whole picture. All feelings are important and part of being human. Riley also feels Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These feelings tend to be less comfortable and can be painful and hard to experience. They can be difficult to talk about and traditionally less socially acceptable. However, all of our feelings—comfortable and uncomfortable—help us make sense of our experiences, process our reactions, and grow.
It is important to talk openly with the children in our lives about their feelings, our own feelings, and how our feelings go everywhere with us. When the feeling conversations start early in life, they are more likely to continue and pave the way for healthy expression in difficult or overwhelming situations.
Talking, exploring, and learning about feelings does not have to be hard! Inside Out is a great example of how feelings are a part of every day and can make you laugh, cry, and, most of all, grow.
Bonus! Check out these free Inside Out–related activities from Pixar, including “Mixed Emotions Improv.”
Goldie Millar, Ph.D., is a clinical and school psychologist. Since earning her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Toronto in 2003, she has worked with children in hospital, forensic, community, and educational settings. She has a deep interest in children’s mental health, emotional regulation, and evidence-based intervention strategies.
Lisa Berger, Ph.D., is a clinical, counseling, and rehabilitation psychologist who works with adolescents and adults in a private practice. In 2003, Dr. Berger received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Toronto. She has practiced in hospitals, post-secondary institutions, and community-based settings. Lisa’s professional interests include emotional health and wellness, psychological trauma, and emotion-based therapy.
Goldie Millar and Lisa Berger are the coauthors of F Is for Feelings.
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