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7 Parenting Tips From Pixar's 'Inside Out'

Tip No. 1: Go see Pixar's "Inside Out."

Tip No. 2: Bring the kids.

Tip No. 3: Bring Kleenex. Lots and lots of Kleenex.

Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera, the duo who brought us "Up," created an incredibly poignant, meaningful and important film in "Inside Out." I know, I know, it's a cartoon. How could it be ALL that? But trust me, it is, especially for those of us raising kids possessed by their emotions.

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"Inside Out" isn't just hilarious in the way that only animated films can be, but it is wrought with insights into how the mind works, the transition from childhood to adolescence and the fundamentals of parenting, all wrapped up in a pretty pretty package about an 11-year-old girl named Riley and the emotions that live in her head.

I took my 9-year-old to see the film, and we saw two different movies. She went on a funny, silly and whimsical journey. Me? I saw the most insightful film about growing up and parenting I've ever had the pleasure to see.

This film moved me. I laughed. I cried. It hit me, hard. And it changed me.

While I enjoyed every minute of the movie, it had an impact that will lived far beyond the screen. How? In how I see not just my child's brain, but my own brain and the big job we have for being our children's emotional stewards. And that's not all. Here are a few of the parenting tips that are sprinkled through "Inside Out."

Warning: This is mostly spoiler free, but if you want to go into the movie totally fresh, see if before reading on.

1. Create joyful "core memories" for your kids

Joy, the main emotion in charge for most of the film (the dominant feeling that young Riley experiences), helps create happy moments that make up Riley's core memories—powerful moments that will always be kept in the mind's storage. These moments are rare and wonderful. After watching this film, you will be filled with the urge to create more positive core memories for your child, ones that will last a lifetime.

2. Assist in building meaningful islands of personality

Riley has five islands of personality: Hockey Island, Honesty Island, Goofy Island, Friendship Island and Family Island. It's our job as parents to help build and maintain these islands for, and with, our children. Although they are under the ownership of our kids, giving them the tools to keep them running is huge.

3. "Inside Out" gives new ways to talk about emotions with our kids

"I can't say how amazing it is to have a film that becomes a tool to talk to your kids," Amy Poehler (who voices Joy) said. "You sit them down and ask them how they're feeling, and you don't get an answer. With these personified, funny characters, kids are better able to talk through their emotions. This changes things. I don't say this about many projects and may never say it again, and that's fine, but to be involved in something that feels like it adds value to the world … that's something."

Something indeed. After seeing the film, children may better express how they're feeling by saying that "Anger was driving" when they lashed out or "Sadness has been busy."

4. Realize that no matter what we do, childhood will end

We have all held our children tight and wished that they could stay sweet and small forever. But childhood, like all good things, must end. It will happen sooner than we'd like. Being able to recognize these changes in our children, and to support them in each phase of life, is HUGE. We may mourn for the cute moments from their kiddie days, but, with our help, they'll grow into awesome grown-ups.

5. Goofy Island won't last forever

Some islands will live on forever, such as Family Island and Friendship Island. But then there are those islands that are fleeting: Goofy Island, Soccer Island or Boy Band Island may come and go, they will be replaced by other passions. Just always be supportive of whatever islands they currently possess. Many parents, including me, never want goofy island to fall away.

6. Anger, Disgust and Fear live in their minds for a reason

While you may not like it when your child's displays of anger, disgust and fear, all three of those emotions are important in their own way. They are there to help protect our kids from dangers both physical and social.

7. Sometimes kids, and all of us, just need the time to be sad

Sadness happens, it's how you deal with it that counts. We all have those periods of being blue, a response to bad things happening, a bad day or just a bad mood. While you may be tempted to make goofy faces or tickle your kid into a better mood, sometimes the best thing to do is to just listen.

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"Inside Out" has much going for it, but the biggest is the urge to be a better parent and a better person. Really, how often does a movie do that?

"Inside Out" opens nationwide on June 19th.

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Photos via Pixar/Walt Disney Studios

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