5 Ways to Emotion Coach your Child, using "Inside Out"

Today while sitting on the couch, folding multiple baskets of laundry, I started flipping through the channels to find something to watch with my nine year old son. Disney Pixars "Inside Out" was about the be on, and Lane shouted, "Yes! Yes! Let's watch that mom! I love that movie!" We first watched the movie when in came out in the theaters in October of 2015. Lane was seven at the time, and my older son was 12, and both of them enjoyed the movie. I also enjoyed the movie, but as a EMOTIONAL and sappy mom, I found myself crying several times throughout the movie. (I mean, hello!, think about it, as your baby is growing up they are forgetting their different childhood memories! That just, ugh, gets my heart and twists it. I'm choked up just thinking about it!)

Today as we watched Inside Out though, I started thinking about The Gottman Institute, and how Dr. Gottman released a whole series on Emotional Intelligence's and Emotion Coaching for children. I have gone through the course and absolutely swear by it. So I would like to share with you how to coach your children through their emotions, with the help of "Inside Out."

Before I get started, let's back up for a moment. Perhaps you are not sure what Emotion Coaching is. Simply put, it is a technique that helps children understand their emotions. In my past blog, "Using EMOTION COACHING to be a Better Parent", I talk a little more about why it is important, as well as some basics to emotion coaching. Go ahead and take a moment to read that past blog!

So, what can you do as a parent to help your children understand their emotions?

1. Introduce the EMOTIONS.

Use this clip to introduce emotions to your child. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Talk about each emotion, asking your child what does Joy or Sadness look like? What does Fear feel like? What does Anger sound like? What does Disgust taste like? Use the different senses to build connections with their emotions, allowing your child to further understand their emotions.

2. Talk about MEMORIES.

Next ask your child if they remember a time they felt Joy. Have them reflect on a memory that made them happy. Have them explain to you why the associate that with Joy. Help them understand emotions such as Happiness, Excitement, Love...they are all part of Joy. Then have them think of memories for each of the other emotions. Allow them to realize every memory the have is part of an emotion they have felt.

3. LISTEN to you child.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IN EMOTION COACHING. As a parent, it is so easy for us to try to coax the emotion out of our child and then try to make light of it. But if you TRULY listen to you child, they don't want you to make light of their emotion, they want YOU to recognize THEM, HONORING their emotion. And that is what Emotion Coaching really is.

In this clip from "Inside Out", we see Joy trying to turn a sad situation into a happy one. However, Sadness uses the moment to recognize the sadness that Bing Bong is feeling, allowing Bing Bong to feel the emotion, understand the emotion, and then move on from the emotion. Sometimes, as parents, we need to talk to our children just as Sadness talks to Bing Bong.

4. WRITE it out.

In my Coaching practice, I invite my clients to use a Gratitude Journal, and teach the importance of using the Gratitude Journal as a means to see the positive in the everyday life. Journaling emotions is a part of this process as well. I believe we can teach our children to get into a practice of journaling their emotions. They can write, draw, color...or they can use a Smart device! Let's face it, many of our kiddos love the iPad. (Or, perhaps that's just my little guy!) When searching for an app to journal emotions, I found this cool one call Happify. This is a science-based app for teaching happiness and ways to overcome stress and life-challenges. And it's right at the finger tips.


I don't always remember to be a great "emotion coaching parent." Sometimes I forget. You might too. SO don't give up. Try again. Continue to look for the moments that you can use emotion coaching to help your child. And continue to make moments of Joy for lasting memories with your child!

Now it's time to watch Inside Out with your kiddos, creating a lasting joyful memory while also helping them to understand their emotions!

Stacie Stoney of StacieStoneyCoaching is a middle school teacher, a mommy, a wife, a high-school Varsity cheer coach, a Christian counselor and life coach specializing in marriage, family, and positivity. Contact StacieStoneyCoaching today for more information on how you can serve others, create purpose in your life, or just to say hi and make a new friend! God is good all the time!


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#emotions #emotioncoaching #feelings #journaling #InsideOut #joy #anger #fear #sadness #disgust #memories #children #familycoaching #betterparenting #parenting

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