Have you taken your kids to see the movie “Inside Out”? This Pixar movie is about how five key emotions (joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear) battle for control in the mind of an 11-year-old girl. It’s easily relatable and its message of how emotions work together and affect our thought processes is fascinating.
Pixar reached out to two leading professors of psychology to act as scientific consultants for the movie. They recently wrote an article for The New York Times explaining how emotions govern our stream of consciousness.
What shocked me was learning that studies find the experience of positive emotions begins to drop in frequency and intensity around the age of 11. My daughter is around this age and I have to say, this made me feel, well, sad. Particularly because, as I read in their New York Times article, “emotions guide our perceptions of the world, our memories of the past and even our moral judgments of right and wrong.”
The good news is that it’s possible to be both emotional and rational – they are not mutually exclusive. Emotions organize rational thinking, according to the article.
“Inside Out” offers a new approach to sadness. Its central insight: Embrace sadness, let it unfold, engage patiently with a preteen’s emotional struggles. Sadness will clarify what has been lost (childhood) and move the family toward what is to be gained: the foundations of new identities, for children and parents alike.”
It’s a movie I can recommend you see with your children and if you do, be sure to also read the complete New York Times article written by Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and Paul Ekman is a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco.
When your kids get sad, do you try and fix the situation or do you let them feel the emotion?