Helping Kids with Emotions Inside and Out
Updated: Jul 11, 2019
Having a smart kid is great but having a smart kid who can navigate life’s experiences with ease is even better. That’s why it’s so important to develop a child’s emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence or EQ refers to a person's ability to identify emotions and manage them productively. All kids have tons of opportunities to develop their EQ prior to adulthood. Kids with well-developed EQs are typically more resilient and more likely to bounce back from adversity. Parents have lots of opportunities to coach their kids to develop their EQ.
One way is to help a child develop helpful thinking skills. We all have little voices that direct us to behave or act. Those little voices act as animated characters in Pixar’s Inside Out. An entertaining, valuable resource for parents and kids alike, the movie takes emotions and breaks them down. It takes the viewer inside the mind and experiences of an 11-year old girl during a difficult life stressor.
In the movie, memories represented by orbs take on different colors based on the emotion attached to the experience. Core memories from Riley's thoughts and feelings about life experiences create her personality.
In Boosting Executive Functions by Sharing Memories, I outlined ways parents can help their child build an endless reservoir of these memories, which can serve to buffer them against disappointments or stressors. It’s a good reminder to reminisce often with your child in order to keep old, but good memories strong. These consolidated memories are what sustain us when we are feeling stressed.
Taking the time to understand a child’s feelings with compassion is important as well as coaching them to think in helpful, productive ways. In the movie, when Riley’s inner voice goes haywire, she struggles to maneuver life’s experiences. However, her mom’s ability to coach her emotionally in one scene allows Riley to move pleasant memories from her day into her long-term memory.
Understanding the connection between events and how they make us feel and think on the inside and react to them on the outside can be one of the most important ways to help develop a child’s EQ. Movies like Inside Out help us see the world through a child’s eyes and appreciate the special role we play in helping them develop special memories that will help them tackle life’s challenges.
The support of a trained educational therapist can help a child feel good about learning.