Our lives would be perfect if we were happy all of the time—or would they be? I grew up in a household where I learned very quickly to put on a brave face. In fact, I once had a high school teacher tell me I had the emotions of a brick wall. I knew that wasn't true. I was actually very aware of how sensitive I was, and the "brick wall" was my defense mechanism. It wasn't until my late 20s that I realized emotions are allowed and, in fact, completely necessary.
Now that I have young children, I find myself thinking more and more about how to "deal" with emotions—my own as much as theirs. One of the greatest gifts our children give us is to throw us off our game, questioning everything and forcing us to dig a little deeper.
When I saw Disney/Pixar's Inside Out, I immediately fell in love. The movie takes a look at the emotional roller coaster inside an 11-year-old girl's head. What a great way to introduce the importance of all of our emotions to children! The producers kept it fun and focused primarily on Joy and Sadness. I'm certainly more inclined to have Joy at the helm as much as possible, and I'm guessing many of you are, too. Yet, as this movie makes so abundantly clear, one cannot exist without the other.
While watching Inside Out together is a great starting point, I also recommend three more great tools to help kids read, understand, and respond to emotions. These skills continuously develop over a lifetime, and these are great ways to introduce the concept at a young age.