Inside Out 2 – Why Every Tween (and Parent) Needs to See It

Inside Out 2 – Why Every Tween (and Parent) Needs to See It

When my now twelve-year-old son was a toddler, Inside Out came out in theaters. My “honesty island” would be firing on all cylinders by saying I probably enjoyed the original movie more than my own child. So, when it was announced that Inside Out 2 would be released the same weekend as my toddler’s 3rd birthday, taking him to see the sequel for his birthday weekend was a no brainer. I arrived to the theatre expecting a fun, humorous, somewhat light plot line, but I left with a new perspective on my own preteen’s complex, new emotions.

The Emotions are New (and Complex) to Your Kids

Early into the movie, we get introduced to Riley’s new emotions: Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Boredom. As a parent who has anxiety herself, watching these emotions overhaul Riley’s headquarters gave me an entirely new perspective to what is going on inside my child’s developing brain (and my own). As your child gains memories, experiences, and learns hard life lessons, their basic emotions (joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust) can often begin taking a backseat to these new inhabitants of their own headquarters.

They meet new kids at school who seem to have “cooler” clothes, more friends, or any number of things that make the control panel in their brains seemingly go haywire. Envy rears its ugly head, and your kid suddenly needs [insert whatever item their peers have]. Embarrassment plows into the scene, and out of nowhere, your previous stage 5 clinger is mortified to have you give them a hug at school. However, the biggest and baddest of them all buries all the other emotions as far down as possible, and before they know it, anxiety is controlling headquarters like it’s been there since day one.

If you’re looking at your tweens and teens wondering who took over your child’s brain and body overnight, rest assured… your child is probably wondering the same thing. The likely culprit(s) are these same new emotions that took over Riley’s headquarters. Seeing Inside Out 2 with your kid(s) can open the door to have a conversation about all the things going on in their developing brains.

Teens are Still Developing Their Sense of Self

With every encounter your child has, their sense of self is constantly being built, molded, and mended. Depending on the emotion(s) that take control, your child’s sense of self can take any number of shapes. As parents, we of course want our child to have a positive sense of self. However, with fewer experiences in life, our children have a less stable sense of self, thus it is far too easily shattered when things go wrong. Letting our kids learn lessons the hard way (even when it’s hard for us) helps them to become more secure in who they actually are – rather than a false mask they are portraying to the world around them.

Teens are Far More Susceptible to Anxiety

In today’s fast paced society, we are bombarded with social media, highly competitive athletic teams and try outs, and ads specifically targeting teens. As a result, anxiety easily takes a grip on our teens. With so much life still ahead of them, all the potential scenarios that play out in their mind can leave them reeling with anxiety over the right path to take.

If I don’t pass this test, my transcript will look awful, and I’ll never get into a good college.
If I don’t make the big play in the big game, I’ll lose out on college scholarship opportunities.
If I don’t hide this embarrassing fact about myself, I’ll never fit in with the “popular” kids, and then I’ll never make friends at school.

As outlandish as some of these things sound to us as adults, these are some of the very thoughts and fears that our teens are thinking every single day. The constant, numerous “what ifs” that are on repeat in their minds allow anxiety to take control, and what is seemingly obvious to us becomes completely unreasonable to our teens.

Our Kids Need Our Support – Now More Than Ever

I think the most important reason for parents to see this movie with their kids is because it opens the door to big, hard, and uncomfortable conversations (fun… I know). Here’s the thing… our kids will feel these things are some point. We can either get frustrated and pretend like they are not being flooded with new feelings and emotions, or we can get on their level and explain why their worlds feel different and out of control right now.

Rather than burying or dismissing their emotions, if we teach our kids to recognize their emotions for exactly what they are, it becomes far easier to control their thoughts and feelings. Once they get better at taking control of these emotions, it’s far more difficult for anxiety to take over.

Inside Out 2 is a great movie to help your teen have a visual of the things they are feeling day in and day out. It may be animated, but rest assured this is one that everyone needs to watch!


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