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Anger. Fear. Disgust. Joy. Sadness.

According to Pixar’s new movie Inside Out, these are the emotions vying for a front row seat in the control center of your child’s brain. Sound familiar? As parents, we understand the impact of these crazy characters. Whether they can be properly managed and controlled will ultimately determine the kind of person your child will become.

In this emotional roller coaster of a film, Pixar is brilliantly depicting what many experts call the next big wave in education: emotional intelligence, or EQ. At the core of EQ is impulse control, a skill that has been proven to catapult a child’s life to great success or–if lacking–to great failure.

But where does impulse control come from? And how do we make sure our own kids have it?

As a mom of three, I wanted to answer these questions for my own kids. Inspired by decades of research that identify social and emotional skills the greatest correlate to life success, I didn’t want my kids leaving the house at age 18 having merely memorized a bunch of stuff. I wanted them to be emotionally intelligent: to be able to control their impulses, to understand, lead, connect and empathize with others.

So I set out to find more answers, studying decades of research about EQ. And in the process, I found great news! Amidst all the national talk about how impulse control and social awareness can determine a child’s fate, the celebration-worthy news for us parents is that it can be taught at home with just a little practice and repetition.

The board game Q’s Race to the Top was designed with this practice and repetition in mind, and through answering questions about themselves, advising the genius monkey “Q” on social scenarios, and tackling whacky physical challenges, they are learning emotional and physical self-control, social skills, and teamwork.

So the next time it seems like Anger, Fear, Disgust, Joy and Sadness are battling it out in your child’s control center, take the time as a parent to listen.

These emotions your child is experiencing provide little insights into areas you can work on together. Some of the most simple activities- reading a book, playing a game like Q’s Race to the Top, even practicing balance and coordination, can give your little one’s “control panel” some operational support.

I’m taking my kids to see Inside Out on June 19 and I can’t wait to hear what you and your family think when you go see it. While the movie may give some great insight and open the door to a conversation, we want to equip you with the tools to put EQ skills into practice at home!

Inside Out Characters