I recently went with my family to see the movie Inside Out and it is a counselor’s dream. The idea of seeing how the emotions and the islands work inside a human creates an opportunity for parents and their kids alike to join in a dialogue with common vocabulary.
This new vocabulary is playing out regularly in our home. It is especially helpful when anger and disgust (whom I love appears so glamorous to girls) have obviously taken over your child’s or your own command center. We have found it useful when these emotions are displayed to reference the little green girl or red man taking over control and often find ourselves laughing and reengaging in a more positive manner.
Here are 5 helpful ways for you to do the same in your home:
1) Reflect and work on which character has more control of your own life. Joy is the goal but often as parents we find ourselves in periods of life when fear, sadness, anger or disgust seem to have overthrown our own control panels. If you are really really brave, ask your children which character they believe runs your control panel most of the time when you are around them.
2) Talk with you kids about how all these emotions do exist inside all of us and it’s OK when one of these grabs their control buttons but their mission in life is to notice this happening and to work with you in restoring Joy back to her spot. Ask them which character has been most active with them that day and how they rediscover joy?
3) Develop your children’s islands and maintenance them keeping them strong. This involves being intentional about developing a strong family island through time, interaction and memory making. Helping young children develop healthy friendships and teaching social skills when they struggle as tweens and adolescents as schools merge and dynamics shift and change is happening or may be needed.
4) Ask them about their islands when it comes to extra curricular activities. Sometimes we get so invested in helping them be the best, we miss what is occurring for them. Often children who have talent experience burnout. Giving them permission and encouragement to try something new or struggle with their activities helps them to develop into happy well adjusted people not just amazing performers. A suggested activity might be for the entire family to draw their islands and to discuss them.
5) Don’t forget the missing island that research supports makes their brains/command centers work the very best – Faith! Helping your child develop a healthy interactive relationship with the God of the universe, experience community through church activities, and emotionally recharge through prayer and meditation can support them even during those tough adolescent years when joy seems to often be nowhere to be found.