Recently, I shared some key messages and activities inspired by the Pixar movie Inside Out! Here are some more activities and messages I gleaned from the movie. I have the figurines promptly displayed in my school psych office and let me tell you… they are VERY popular with my students. Sometimes they are so popular that they must go into hiding so that we can complete work. One student recently invited Disgust to exit the room the other day so that she could finish an assessment, (she invited Joy to look on instead).
I’ve invited Rainbow Unicorn and Bing Bong to the blog post today. It’s my sincere wish that they bring many relaxing moments for you and your child.
More Inside Out Activities and Key Messages
1. Treat your imagination like a celebrity.
In the movie, Miss Rainbow Unicorn was depicted as a celebrity. I believe she is the perfect symbol of our imaginations, our creative abilities, our power to create. I would like to invite you to treat your imagination and that of your child’s the same way, just as if the imagination were your most honored guest.
Brain research shows that the brain actually doesn’t actually differentiate between fantasy and reality. Imagine the taste of a lemon and you will notice salivation in your mouth. We can simply imagine something and begin to experience more of it. This is how the power of imagination can be harnessed for healing.
Knowing this and teaching this to our children can be the key that opens the door to more relaxation, more feelings of wellbeing. And, knowing this concept is so awesome because it means that the outside world doesn’t have to change in order for us to feel better. We can just turn our attention inside, think a better feeling thought or a relaxing thought and voila…FEEL BETTER. Teach your child this and it can activate a freedom within him that is not linked to his external circumstances…. this enhances the development of self-regulation skills that he then has the chance to apply, if he chooses, throughout his life!
I’m going to share a couple of ways I love to engage the imagination to feel good. The first is the use of guided imagery.
Now picture how children process the world around them, how much of their everyday existence is experienced through the imagination. They live in a world of images, dreams, and fantasy. Children are intuitive, creative; they are naturally imaginative. This is why the technique of imaging for self-healing words so well with them. The imagery concept of an inner advisor or “helper” comes easily to a child, as does a secret, invisible friend. ~ Ellen Curran, Guided Imagery for Children and Teens
For many years now, I have engaged the use of guided imagery as a tool to help kids relax and return to calm. Theminfulword.org defines guided imagery as “a meditative process that uses visualization and imagination to bring awareness to the mind-body connection.” I like this definition because it helps kids to understand that guided imagery is a tool for the relaxation toolbox, one that helps them link their bodies and minds through USING and applying their imagination. Whether it’s sensory overload, self-regulation, or healing of the physical body or emotions, guided imagery can help. One of my favorite scripts is the Flower Inside You. I like it because it stimulates beautiful thoughts.
Relaxation Stories Activity
Engage your child with relaxation stories. I like to use the “Create-A-Story” Kits by John & Caitlin Matthews. The cards are interesting and beautiful and kids seem to enjoy reading the ideas and talking about the different settings, objects and characters.
You can create stories of relaxation with your child. Begin by priming the mind and discussing different components of relaxation: how you feel when you relax, how you feel when you aren’t relaxed, techniques such as deep breathing, ways to relax both the body and the mind. Next, draw some cards from the deck and begin to build your story. The chief goal of the story is to talk about and practice relaxation. Maybe a character is experiencing lots of stress, maybe the story progresses from stressful to relaxed. Perhaps certain settings are more relaxed than others. Make it an epic tale of relaxation, a hero’s journey of relaxation. Bring in elements from your child’s life, actual experiences that can be problem-solved through the eyes of the story’s character. Practice relaxation along with the character at the story’s completion.
2. Play helps us relax, feel good, and become more wholehearted in our connections with each other.
Bing Bong, as in the movie, reminds us that play is an essential quality to life. I have recently been studying play and asking myself what I consider as play so that I can include more of THAT in my life. As a school psychologist, we realize how essential play is to children’s development. What I want you to consider, is that PLAY is essential to everyone’s development! I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability CD’s and HIGHLY recommend it. She includes play as one of the guideposts for “wholehearted living.” What I love about Brene is that she has done the research! She doesn’t just think that play is a nice idea, because it feels good, she has actually studied it! She defines play as “anything you do where time stands still and you don’t want it to end.” She also talks about how each of us is unique in what we define as play in our life. I would encourage you to begin to consider what you find meets this definition of play in your life and begin to INFUSE your life with it. Also, begin to do the detective work to find out what your child considers as play and take note. Next, determine which activities overlap in your play definitions and begin to play together. Remember, it is only play if both of you define it as play. I would also invite you to develop your relaxation practice the same way. Find methods you enjoy–where time stands still and you don’t want it to end. Explore with art, nature, music, and guided imagery scripts. Get your play infused into your relaxation practice and you will notice that it becomes even MORE relaxing.
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