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6 Ways “Inside Out 2” Boosts Emotional Intelligence in Kids

Just five days ago, my kids and I watched “Inside Out 2.” My daughter, Emma, was going through a rough patch with some of her friends, and my son, Jake, was starting to feel the pressures of his upcoming soccer tryouts, so I thought it was a good idea to give us some time together. I didn’t expect the movie’s portrayal of Riley’s emotional roller coaster to strike a chord with us both. 

As a mother, I’ve always believed that teaching my children their emotions is as important as teaching them the alphabet, but let’s face it: talking about feelings can sometimes be tricky, especially with kids. That’s where “Inside Out 2” comes in. This film has been helpful for me and my children because it offers a fun and relatable way to explore and express emotions.

After the movie, we had one of the best conversations about emotions we’ve ever had. Emma opened up about how jealous she was when her friends played together without her, and Jake shared his fears of not making the soccer team. It was comforting to see them feel safe sharing their feelings; honestly, I was relieved, too.

This inspired me to write this article, where I share with you how you can talk to your children about emotions using Inside Out 2.

How To Use Inside Out 2 To Teach Emotions?

“Inside Out 2” is a great movie to teach children about emotions. The best thing about this sequel is that the franchise introduces new emotions, such as anxiety, envy, and shame, which makes children identify with similar feelings.

On the other hand, the plot is easy to understand and presents the situations funny and tenderly. And best of all, you can even watch it with your teenage children. I highly recommend the latter, as it will also help you better understand the changes teenagers go through.

 For example, you can use the scene when Riley is overwhelmed with anxiety at ice hockey camp (sorry for the spoiler) as a great opportunity to break the ice with your kids and ask them how they might feel in stressful situations. That way, you can help them manage those emotions.

Undoubtedly, the most valuable thing is that children can see practical examples of managing emotions by watching Riley navigate his emotional world. This makes understanding emotions fun and relatable.

Six Ways To Improve Emotional Intelligence In Kids Inspired by Inside Out 2

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1. Creating an Emotionally Supportive Environment

Creating a “safe place” at home is crucial for helping children develop emotional intelligence. In “Inside Out 2,” Riley’s parents support her through her emotional ups and downs.

 For example, when Riley is anxious about fitting in with the cool kids, her parents listen and offer reassurance without judgment, and that is not a fictional situation. You can do the same with your kiddos

The key is encouraging open communication. Let your kids know it’s okay to express their feelings, whether happy, sad, or angry. Emotions are complex and difficult to understand, especially in childhood and teen years.

Be a good listener and show empathy. This will help your kids feel safe and understood, essential for emotional growth. Additionally, establishing regular family check-ins where everyone can share their feelings can foster a sense of trust and openness.

2. Teaching Kids to Recognize and Name Their Emotions

If you want to help your kids develop emotional intelligence, you need to help them recognize and name their emotions. You can use “Inside Out 2” as a conversation starter. Ask your kids which characters they relate to and why, and break the ice. 

For instance, when Riley’s Envy kicks in as she compares herself to her peers, ask your child if they’ve ever felt jealous and talk about what that feels like. Envy is a difficult emotion to process, so it can be helpful.

Encourage them to describe how they’re feeling in different situations. Use simple language and relatable examples from the movie to help them understand and articulate their emotions. You can also create an emotion chart with faces and labels to help younger kids easily identify feelings.

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3. Modeling Healthy Emotional Behavior

Kids learn a lot by watching their parents. In “Inside Out 2,” Riley’s parents show different ways of handling emotions. Even if you think not, you and your reaction are a model for your kiddos. I realized that by looking at my son Jake reacting just like me when he had trouble.

In the movie, Riley’s mom comforts her by acknowledging her feelings of embarrassment and discussing them openly. She models healthy emotional behavior. You can do the same by managing your own emotions in a positive way.

 When stressed, show your kids how to take deep breaths or talk about your feelings calmly so they will learn to do the same. It’s important to let them see that it’s okay to have strong emotions and that there are healthy ways to deal with them. Sharing personal stories about managing your emotions can also provide valuable lessons.

4. Encouraging Empathy and Compassion

Empathy is a key part of emotional intelligence. In “Inside Out 2,” Riley learns to understand and feel for others, like when she realizes how her actions affect her friends. You can encourage empathy in your kids by discussing the movie’s characters’ feelings and actions.

 Ask your kids how they think the characters feel and why. A good exercise can be discussing how Riley feels embarrassed and how she copes with it, then relate it to a time your child felt the same way. Encourage them to think about how their actions affect others. 

Role-playing and reading stories about different emotions can help develop empathy and compassion. Volunteering as a family, participating in community service projects, or even asking your children to think about how they would feel if they were someone else in a certain situation—for example, a friend who is having a hard time or a colleague who achieved a goal—will also help them connect with those emotions.

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5. Managing Emotions Constructively

Managing emotions is an important skill for kids to learn. “Inside Out 2” shows Riley dealing with Anxiety and other new emotions. For example, Riley’s Anxiety causes her to overthink and stress about the future, which you can discuss with your kids and brainstorm ways to stay calm. 

Teach your kiddos techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, or physical activities to manage emotions like Riley. This will help them regulate their nervous system and handle difficult situations. But most importantly, you will be able to instill good habits in them in a fun and friendly way.

Create a calm-down space at home where they can go when they feel overwhelmed. This helps them learn to handle their feelings healthily, reducing the likelihood of acting out or bottling up their emotions. Encourage activities that help them express their feelings, like drawing, journaling, or playing music.

6. Improving Problem-Solving and Conflict Resolution Skills

Problem-solving and conflict resolution are crucial for emotional intelligence. “Inside Out 2” highlights how Riley navigates conflicts and challenges, balancing her friendships and fitting in with new peers. 

Teach your kids to approach problems calmly and think through their options. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and find solutions together. For instance, when Riley faces a conflict between her longtime friends and the new group she wants to impress, discuss how they might handle similar situations with your kids. 

Role-playing different scenarios can help them practice these skills. Emphasize listening and understanding others’ perspectives to resolve conflicts peacefully. Practicing these skills at home through family discussions and cooperative games can build a strong foundation for handling real-life conflicts.

Why Is It Important To Teach Children To Express Their Feelings?

Teaching kids to express their feelings is vital for their emotional and mental health. It helps them build strong relationships, handle stress, and develop a positive self-image. When kids can talk about their feelings, they’re less likely to act out or feel overwhelmed. They learn to manage their emotions, which leads to better decision-making and overall well-being.

Expressing feelings also promotes self-awareness. When children can identify and articulate their emotions, they better understand themselves and their triggers. This self-awareness is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence, enabling them to navigate social interactions more effectively and empathetically. Using movies like “Inside Out 2” makes learning about emotions engaging and relatable, showing kids that it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions and that expressing them is a healthy part of life.


Improving emotional intelligence in kids is essential for their development. “Inside Out 2” offers a unique and engaging way to start these important conversations. By creating a supportive environment, teaching kids to recognize and name their emotions, modeling healthy behavior, encouraging empathy, managing emotions constructively, and improving problem-solving skills, you can help your kids develop strong emotional intelligence. This will benefit them throughout their lives, helping them build better relationships and confidently navigate challenges.

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