Yesterday, we watched the animated film Inside Out and I must say that I really enjoyed it. I actually cried a few times. It promotes a lot of important lessons that are relateable even for adults. Whenever I watch movies catered for children, I always keep my mind open for subliminal messages that they might pick up from the story. I guess it’s because of my profession (as a Speech-Language Pathologist) and my exposure in teaching young kids for more than 10 years. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I always try to understand how children process and learn information. I believe that children as young as 4-5 years old can comprehend the lessons I listed below. I encourage you parents to discuss these insights with your children because kids these days take in everything they hear and see from media. It is wise to make sure that what they pick up and interpret from movies and cartoon shows are safe and morally correct. Here’s some of what I got from the film and I’ll try to keep it short. (spoilers ahead)
GOOD LIFE LESSONS
- It’s okay to be SAD. We should never dismiss and hide legitimate feelings of sadness. The movie showed that it is perfectly alright to express our feelings (in a healthy way) to the people who love us.
- SADNESS doesn’t last forever. It is only when we confront the underlying reason and face our emotions do we learn to address the problem, and eventually overcome it. I love the idea of how JOY always comes after SADNESS. It reminds me of how God understands our human tendency to feel low and depressed, but He still promises us that He will be with us as we go through them and emerge victorious. Amidst all the heartaches and trials, we can still experience JOY because of Him.
- Be open to express your true feelings to your FAMILY. They love you and they will always (they should) be willing to listen and understand.
- Whether we like it or not, our memory will fail us. We won’t be able to recall all the beautiful events that transpired in our lives. This is one of the reasons why I like taking and printing pictures with family and friends. Pictures serve as memories immortalized forever. To be able to capture a memory and keep it with you for the years to come is a powerful gift that we must not take for granted. So to parents and lovers, don’t be ashamed to make scrapbooks and journals where you can store memories and revisit them as if they just happened yesterday. That way, your grand-kids can see them too!
“…be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery…” Deuteronomy 6:12
This is also why I keep a prayer journal online where I can at least TRY to document God’s faithfulness in my life.
5. When Riley’s dad tried to goof around with her but to no avail, I got emotional because I imagined how hard it must be for the parents to feel that their children have already outgrown them. They no longer enjoy the activities they once loved doing together with their moms and dads. It might not mean a lot to the kids, but deep down I know parents would feel hurt and unwanted when their children would brush them off so easily. This is a reminder for myself and to those of us who still have parents: be gentle and considerate to the first two people who loved us and who will always love us more than their own.
6. Lastly, some advocates for children with special needs expressed how this film helps teach Social Thinking. Children who have difficulty regulating their own emotions and comprehending other people’s emotions may benefit from this film as long as they are guided to understand about the different feelings and what situations bring about these feelings.
- Riley was controlled by her emotions (the Emotions’ Headquarters). Whichever emotion won defined who she was and shaped her character. She always reacted based on how she felt. It is very true that our emotions direct how we live our lives,but only IF WE LET THEM.
Children might come to learn that all their emotions are VALID, and in effect, they cannot control it if they suddenly feel upset, angry, or the need to throw a tantrum. I don’t find it impossible if they will reason with their parents that, “Mommy, ANGER won!”. So parents, be wary of what your children learn from these adorable characters- Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Although these emotions are real, they do not and should not control us. I’ve read Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World many years ago and his words stuck with me: “Today I will be master of my emotions” . (I included an excerpt from his book below). We are to be the masters of our emotions, and not the other way around. If we live by the Scriptures, God becomes our Master. The Holy Spirit should be the one to control and rule over our desires and emotions.
2. Empathy is something we should model and intentionally teach children at a young age. This was not the focus of the film. Inside Out is all about encouraging children to explore their emotions and understanding where their feelings come from. In a sense, it is saying that all children’s feelings are reasonable and legitimate. They have the right to feel that specific emotion because of the situation they are in. Subtly, this may lead children to grow up thinking they are ENTITLED to feel what they feel. They are entitled to their own opinions, emotions, and decisions. Some will say that’s perfectly fine. But the danger lies when they don’t know how to EMPATHIZE and UNDERSTAND other’s feelings. So, before our children grow up with that mindset that their emotions are always right, let’s teach them to be SENSITIVE–sensitive to what God wants us to feel and sensitive to how others might feel.
I’ll end with this. Just yesterday I was leading Nursery and Kinder students in church to sing praise songs. I started with a familiar song- “I’ve got JOY down in my heart”. I introduced the song by saying something like, “The song says that we have JOY in our hearts. Why do we have joy?”. Suddenly, one kid interrupted me and said, “No, Anger.”. Another kid followed and exclaimed, “Disgust”. Another kid laughed and said, “Sadness”.
Our second song It’s So Good to Know taught us that we are never alone because God’s always with us. I went on to explain, “Now that we know God is always with us, we don’t need to be scared. Right? It’s so good to know this. We should be happy”. Another kid said, “No, sad.”
Maybe they were just hungover from watching Inside Out, but I felt worried that they might have taken the wrong lessons from the film. Emotions are powerful and they CAN control us. If they found Anger funny, Fear cute, and Disgust cool, what would stop them from imitating these characters without full comprehension of what these emotions entail and cause? Let us be involved in what our children are learning. Media is not a safe haven for children…not anymore. So let’s make sure that media takes the back seat when it comes to parenting. We need to put our foot down and fulfill our responsibilities as their true parents.
The Scroll Marked VI: Today I will be master of my emotions
Each day, when I awake, I will follow this plan of battle before I am captured by the forces of sadness, self-pity and failure –
- If I feel depressed, I will sing.
- If I feel sad, I will laugh.
- If I feel ill, I will double my labor.
- If I feel fear, I will plunge ahead.
- If I feel inferior, I will wear new garments.
- If I feel uncertain, I will raise my voice.
- If I feel poverty, I will think of wealth to come.
- If I feel incompetent, I will remember past success.
- If I feel insignificant, I will remember my goals.
Today I will be master of my emotions. Henceforth, I will know that only those with inferior ability can always be at their best, and I am not inferior. There will always be days when I must constantly struggle against forces which would tear me down. Those such as despair and sadness are simple to recognize, but there are others, which approach with a smile and the hand of friendship, and they can also destroy me. Against them, too, I must never relinquish control –
- If I become overconfident, I will recall my failures.
- If I overindulge, I will think of past hungers.
- If I feel complacency, I will remember my competition.
- If I enjoy moments of greatness, I will remember moments of shame.
- If I feel all-powerful, I will try to stop the wind.
- If I attain great wealth, I will remember one unfed mouth.
- If I become overly proud, I will remember a moment of weakness.
- If I feel my skill is unmatched, I will look at the stars.
Today I will master my emotions.
**entry made on FEB.20, 2016