How Inside Out 2 Gave Me The Words to Talk to My Kids About Their Emotions

“Maybe this is what happens when you grow up. You feel less joy,” Joy- Inside Out 2.

What a profound statement. If you are anything like me, the “Inside Out” franchise gives you all the feels. I sobbed through the first one. I mean ugly cried during the first “Inside Out.” The newest release didn’t have the same effect, but it gave me a way to talk to and connect the movie to life for my kids. As parents we have always told our kids that it is okay to feel your feelings. It is okay to feel happy, to feel sad, to feel nervous, etc. My kids loved the first “Inside Out” movie. Initially, it was the bright colors, the funny things the emotions did, and the way they all talked. As they have gotten older, I think they have connected to the messages behind it. Whether or not they can eloquently express that, it has been made clear through conversations that they understand the message. We can’t feel joy without also feeling sadness. No one can be happy all the time. 

The newest release in the franchise has a similar message. We cannot suppress the uncomfortable feelings. We can’t suppress the unhappy memories and uncomfortable situations, We can use those situations and memories to learn from and to grow from. As much as we hate to be embarrassed or anxious, they are all important in our development. 

I can hardly believe I am writing this, but my oldest is about to be in middle school. Oh boy. He already thinks that we don’t understand. We don’t get it. We will never understand. You know the drill. All of the emotions that Riley feels in the movie are things that we all feel. This movie is opening a way for him and my younger two to feel seen. We all love when a movie or tv show strikes a chord with us and we feel seen and heard. This movie is giving us a way to talk to our pre-adolescent son and or two girls about their emotions. I will use this movie to remind them of the following messages:

  • Life is about challenges. Sometimes challenges take time to figure out. How we address the challenges in our lives is important. It is okay to ask for help to tackle the challenges we face. 
  • It  is okay to be who we are. In fact it is important to be who we are unapologetically. It is so easy to get caught up in what is “popular” or “cool.” It is okay to not be the popular kid. What is important is to be true to who you are. 
  • No feeling or emotion is bad. All are important and a necessary part of life. How we handle ourselves when we feel those emotions is important. 
  • It is important to and okay to say “I’m sorry” and to be vulnerable with our friends and family. Those who truly care about us will not judge us for being vulnerable or to share our feelings. 
  • It is okay to cry. There is such a stigma in our world about crying; especially for boys. Crying is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of feeling deeply. It is also okay to not be well all the time. 
  • All emotions are important in helping us find our sense of self. It is okay to feel happy but also anxious at the same time. All emotions are necessary and okay. 
  • Bottling up our emotions is not healthy. It is good to talk about them and get things off our chest.

 I am grateful for movies that give ways to have hard conversations with kids. “Inside Out 2” does exactly that. Not only does it help find a way to have the hard conversations, it also helps my kids to know that their feelings are valid and that they are not the only ones who feel those emotions. As parents we will continue to have an open dialogue in hopes that as our kids get older and enter the puberty stages, that they will feel safe in coming to us and sharing their feelings. 

“My job is to protect her from the scary stuff she can’t see. I plan for the future.” -Anxiety (Inside Out 2)

Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


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