If you have little children, you have probably seen the new Pixar movie, Inside Out. My husband and I saw it on a date night and I loved it! It is one of my favorite Pixar movies already. It makes you laugh and cry and think about life in a whole new way. Isn’t that what all good movies do?
However, what I loved most about this movie was how much it could help parents understand A) their adopted or hurt children, or B) their child with autism. Throughout the movie we see how a persons thoughts, feelings, personality, and memories are formed. Of course it isn’t completely scientific. It’s a movie after all. Still, the building blocks are pretty spot on in demonstrating how our brain functions.
We watch as Riley, the little girl the movie is based around, forms core memories such as playing hockey with her dad for the first time or baking cookies with her mom. To quote the movie, “Each [core memory] came from a super important time in Riley’s life…and each core memory powers a different aspect of Riley’s personality…”
In the movie, all of Riley’s core memories are happy memories. Everything has to do with family or friends, therefore Riley’s personality is generally a happy one. She likes spending time with her parents, she can relate well with her surroundings, and is over all a happy child. But, since there has to be some plot twist, this all gets shaken.
Imagine for a moment that your child’s core memories are not happy ones and that the bases of their personality are sad, angry, or painful memories… or that your child’s core memories are happy ones, but are disconnected from their true personality and they, therefore, have no way of expressing their personality in thoughts or feelings.
In Riley’s head, her emotions are always up front at the “command center” ready and waiting to communicate and relate and react to everything going on around her. They range from joy, fear, disgust, anger, and sadness with joy ruling the roost. Step outside of Riley’s head again and step into your child’s. Imagine that the only emotions were sadness, fear, and anger. Imagine that joy was the timid meek one in the background letting everyone else boss her around. Imagine that all your child’s emotions are present in the way they should be but some of the communication buttons were missing on the control board so things couldn’t be gradually expressed, but rather burst forth regardless of whether they were good or bad.
I don’t want to give away to much of the movie. If you have children, especially with emotional hurt or on the spectrum, I strongly encourage you to go see this movie (or be frugal and wait to rent it). THINK about they way your child’s brain could be functioning and how yours functions differently. It may make you sad, but be encouraged by the fact that even a animated children’s movie may help you understand your little one a little better. Happy watching!