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  • Carolyn Mehlomakulu

Using "Inside Out" to Build Emotional Intelligence

I hope that you've had a chance to see the movie Inside Out (and if not, I definitely encourage you to see it soon). It does a wonderful job of teaching kids about their mind and their feelings. And most importantly, it teaches them that all of our feelings should be listened to and serve a valuable purpose. Parents can help to reinforce this and to build emotional intelligence in their child by helping their child label and express feelings, reflecting and validating these feelings, and then helping their child figure out how best to handle the emotions.

Inside Out gives kids a fun and accessible way to explore their feelings. Here are a few Inside Out activities that you can do with your kids to talk about feelings, memories, and identity.

Draw/Create Your Feelings: Inside Out has five primary emotion characters - Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. Children can illustrate their own characters for the feelings and assign a color to each one. Add more feelings characters if they want - there's no need to stick to the movie's basic five of joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. Let your child choose how they want to create their characters - drawing, painting, clay, puppets, or masks.

Feelings Role Play: After you have the characters created, you can give various scenarios and have the child role play what each emotion would say in the situation. Have your child decide which emotion(s) they should listen to for that situation.

Draw Your Islands: The movie show's the core of Riley's personality as five islands that include her values, traits, and interests. Your child can create one or more of their own personality islands. A great family activity could be to work together on your own family island.

Memory and Feelings Journal: In the movie, we see Riley's memories each stored in a sphere that is colored to match the emotion of the memory. Children can keep a daily journal to draw and write about their memories and feelings. Encourage them to consider whether a memory is colored by more that one feeling (you can remind them that we see this in Riley's mind at the end of the movie). Download my printable "Inside Out Feelings Journal" for a template.

​​Activities originally posted at

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