The film synopsis goes like this: Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness.
The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley's main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
I spend my working days trying to find child-friendly ways of explaining emotional processes to children and I think that this film will be such a useful resource for enabling parents, educators and anyone who has contact with children and young people to start a dialogue about emotions.
Here are five ideas for helping your child handle their emotions:
1) Develop a vocabulary of emotions
You can start with the basic emotions with younger children or if you are starting out. Over time you might want to be more specific about the emotions so the following wheel can be useful.
You cannot start too early with this one. I talk to my toddler all the time about how they are feeling when they appear upset, angry or happy. You can use TV programmes as a great source of emotions with the advantage that they can be discussed in an objective way.
When you are talking about feelings you can guess at what they might be feeling based upon how they appear but check in with them - they can correct you if they are feeling sad rather than angry for example.
3) Start a parent/child journal
Some children may open up more and be willing to discuss their feelings more when drawing or writing. This is also a great place to start if you, yourself, are not overly confident in talking about feelings. All you need is a notepad, a place to put it when someone has written in it (so it gets looked at) and the willingness to create a connection with your child. I'm going to be writing more blog posts about journalling with your child so keep an eye out or send a message via the facebook page if you'd like to know more.
4) If your child has lots of anxiety you might want to explore some of the great resources that are around for helping children and young people to meditate. Again, please look out for further blog posts on this topic.
5) Help your child to plan for how they will manage difficult situations. If they get anxious around tests help them to recognise what goes on in their body and practice ways that they can feel less anxious. This might include breathing exercises, talking their anxieties through with yourself or another trusted adult and guided visualisation to help remain calm. It's about letting our children know that it's ok to say how you feel and that together you can explore solutions to any problems they might be facing. This will give them the confidence to know that they can make good choices as they grow and become more independent.
For more information please contact me if you have any questions about how you can apply this in your and your child's life.
Founder of Connect Emotional Education