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Being a 3 year old is hard. You are filled with strong emotions and sometimes you have no idea what you're feeling, why, or how to handle it. As parents. it's our job to guide our kids through this time by helping them to learn to identify their emotions and understand how to express them in an appropriate way - and very importantly, that feeling and expressing emotions is healthy!
I'm right in the middle of this stage with my twins, and I was SO excited when I found out that Inside Out was available to buy on DVD at Walmart. I had heard such wonderful things about the movie but going to the theater with two 3 year olds is a bit of a challenge. So I headed straight to Walmart to pick up a copy for our family.
While I was there, I made a quick stop in the toy aisle and found a super fun surprise too. My boys love buttons and lights so I knew they would have fun with Joy and her console.
We finally got to watch Inside Out and loved it! I especially appreciated how meeting all of Riley's emotions (and mom and dad's too) helped open a dialogue about our own feelings. I really wanted to find a way to keep this conversation going, so I put together a fun game to help my boys explore their emotions - and included our new toy in the fun too.
Exploring and discussing emotions with young children is important to do when they are not right in the middle of feeling them. The more that we talk about emotions when our kids are not angry, frustrated, or sad, the easier they will open up when they are feeling those things. This Exploring Emotions Game will help you talk to your kids about their feelings anytime (and it's lots of fun too!)
Exploring Emotions Game for Kids
Setting up the Exploring Emotions game is easy. You'll need:
- Inside Out DVD
- Printable Emotions Cards - download them for free here
- Inside Out toy console and Joy figure
- Handheld mirror
Print your emotions cards and cut them out. Set them on a table along with your mirror and console toy. After you've watched Inside Out with your kids, invite them over to play. Show them that Joy is ready at her console to help them explore their emotions, and they can even press the button to make the console light up when it's their turn!
Have your child pick a card. Each card is labeled with an emotion from Inside Out. Read the card to your child. The first question asks them what makes them feel that emotion. The second asks them to act out that emotion (ie, make your angry face!). Give them the mirror to help them see their faces as they act out each emotion.
Finally, the third question asks them what they should do when they feel that emotion. This is a great way to open dialogue on how to express feelings like anger without inappropriate (and common) actions like hitting.
There's also a special "You" card to help them talk about how they are feeling at the moment.
My boys loved this game! It was really cute to hear their answers to the questions ("What makes you happy?" "My favorite food!") and provided a way for us to talk about how to express our feelings in healthy, productive ways. And to encourage them to do so! I'm hopeful as we watch Inside Out for our family movie nights and play our Exploring Emotions game that I'm able to help my boys better navigate the ups and downs of childhood.
How do you help your children explore their emotions? Pick up your own copy of Inside Out at Walmart and let me know in the comments below!