6 Things Highly Sensitive Children (and Their Parents) Can Learn from the Movie Inside Out

We went last week as a family to see Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. The chatter about the movie has been immense so for the first time in almost forever I was excited about a film hitting our local cinema.

We were not disappointed. First of all the movie is clever. With a capital C. Some of it was well over my three year old’s head, but he still had an enjoyable trip to the cinema (mostly popcorn related) but my elder two sons really liked the film. In fact my eldest loved the film. He’s first in line when the DVD hits the stores.

As a parent I was impressed with the tough issues Disney had taken and wonderfully put in a movie in a way that children and their parents can relate to. And it struck me how wonderful Inside Out is for highly sensitive children. There’s a lot in the movie that HSCs can put a name to.

Here are some things that run through the film that parents can talk to their HSC about so that they can express their feelings more easily – and give their emotions a place.

  1. We have many inner voices telling us what to do and how to react – depending on the emotion which is dominant at the time. This idea opens the way for a discussion with your HSC about why sometimes an experience doesn’t bother us, yet other times gets to us and upsets or angers us. Which emotion has control? Which emotion is stronger? A dominant emotion influences how we experience things and see the world around us.
  2. We can put a face to our emotions. My eldest son lost his temper the other day and all I could see was Anger with fire spurting out of his head and I voiced that image. My son’s anger dissipated and he fell on the floor laughing.Anger - Disney Pixar's Inside Out
  3. We need all our emotions. Pretending that we are happy when we are actually sad is not helping anyone. That emotion we feel on the inside is better shared with someone on the outside. Talk about sadness. You are allowed to be sad. Sadness evokes empathy. It connects us. Just as important – you are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be scared. And happy is of course great. Without allowing all our emotions to have a role in our life our ’emotions control board’ shuts down.
  4. How we see our memories are dependent on how we feel right now. When something goes wrong it is easy to look back negatively on other things we have done. It’s easy to turn our joyful yellow memories into sad blue ones. Hence it’s easy to think that everything we do is ‘a failure’.
  5. Talking about our core memories, the really important events that shape us, can really help a HSC put a name to an emotional association they have. For example a fear of dogs may stem from an incident with a dog. A fear of playgrounds may stem from a bad fall in toddlerhood. Talking about things that they feel are formative can really help. Inside Out helps so much with the imagery of this.
  6. Talk about ‘islands’. What would your HSC’s islands look like? In the movie, Riley has a hockey, family, friendship and fun island. Theses are the core themes that run through your child’s life. How fragile are they? How have they been built up?

And I know there are many, many more points that all parents and children can take from this movie. If you haven’t seen it then do. Inside Out – I can’t recommend it enough.

6 Things Highly Sensitive Children and their parents can learn from Inside Out

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About Amanda van Mulligen

Mother, writer, author, blogger. I was born in Britain but live in the Netherlands. I have three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and I blog about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children.
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