Inside Out 2

I have embarrassed my children again by crying too hard, laughing too loud, and audibly cringing for Riley while watching Inside Out 2. As if living in the mind of a cartoon teenager for 2 hours wasn’t emotional enough for me… I actually have to PARENT a 13-year-old and work closely with teens as a child psychologist in Virginia.

And, just like Riley’s parents, I am experiencing ALL of the feelings trying to help my boys navigate their worlds as 7,10, and 13-year-olds. Watching Inside Out 2 was just a reminder that, if life feels hard for me… it is also REALLY hard for teens.

Fortunately, we can all support our children’s sense of self, emotional well-being, and relationships by watching Inside Out 2 ON REPEAT. If we can help our kids to internalize characters, systems of the brain, and language of the movie– Inside and Out– we will give them a huge advantage.

And here’s why:

1. Your kids will understand people better.

People are complicated!

Luckily we have a cast of characters and a compelling storyline that illustrates how emotions, thoughts, and memories work.. Inside Out 2 got it right– which is why this child psychologist refers to it in almost every therapy session as a shorthand for working through a complex situation. And because children know Inside Out so well, their understanding of psychology is at least through Psych 101– even if they are only 6!

2. Your kids will understand themselves better.

Do you know how many times a week I tell kids that it is normal to have two emotions about the same event? I used to break it down to kids and parents alike as a fairly complicated concept. Now I just say, “You know how Riley felt both Joy AND Anxiety about playing hockey? That’s because it is totally normal to feel many different feelings about the same event. So you are just like Riley!”

Or for those who struggle with test anxiety… they study forever for a calculus test and when it comes time to take it, their mind goes blank? That’s because all of their math memories (the memory balls) are in the back of their brains and not in the command center at the start of math. Your child just needs time for those little workers to grab their math memory balls and shoot them up. No need to panic– they will get there!

3. Your kids will be able to improve their relationships with you.

Now that your kids actually have a better grip of what is going on with themselves, they will be better able to communicate with you and other people about who they are and what is going on for them. Inside Out 2 offers the vocabulary and framework.

Your child can say, “I’m spinning with anxiety,” and you can say, “How can we get Joy to pop in when you are feeling stressed?” And there you go on a connecting conversation that might even bring you closer. Wouldn’t that be great?

4. Your kids will feel more comfortable with who they are.

Watching the movie reminded me just how hard it is to be a teenager– the constant anxiety, envy, embarrassment, etc.

As a child psychologist I know these feelings are all normal. But teens frequently worry something is wrong with them if their inner monologue of self-criticism gets too loud. Inside Out 2 lets them know it is okay– and even normal– to go from joy to anxiety to embarrassment to disgust all in ten very short seconds.

Parents of kids, tweens, and even teens… If you can help your child get even one step of understanding the emotions that hijack their brains when the puberty alarm starts ringing, you are giving them a gift.
Because being a teenager is HARD and you are giving them some tools to help.

So go ahead, watch Inside Out 2 as a family and then have it on in the background of your home for a few weeks. I promise that you AND your child will appreciate it when they are 13.

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