Meilin Lee is your typical early 2000s 13-year-old — dorky, confident and obsessed with the boy band 4*Town. While she has the best friends crew, she’s determined to make her mom proud by striving to be a perfect and obedient daughter.
The young teen’s life changes when one night her emotions get the best of her. A family curse ignites that turns Mei into a giant red panda when she’s filled with emotions. The only way to tame her panda is by being calm. That turns out to be quite difficult.
Teenagers go through a range of emotions, especially when puberty begins. We love how the movie dives into those growing pains. But there are also plenty of lessons that kids of all ages can understand. Here are a few to discuss with kids:
- You can feel strong emotions. Managing your emotions can sometimes be hard for kids to understand. Have them understand that they sometimes might feel emotions like excitement, anger or anxiety. There is nothing wrong with having big feelings and they can always take a deep breath to help them feel better.
- Support your friends. Priya, Abby and Miriam are Mei’s best friends. Even when they find out her red panda secret, they are immediately supportive. These friends are a great example to show kids you should be there for your friends no matter what and be their support system especially when they need you most.
- Don’t please others. Mei strives to be perfect to get her mother’s approval. While kids sometimes feel pressured to seek approval from others, it shouldn’t change who they are. Remind kids they should always be themselves and don’t feel like they have to be different for parents, friends or anyone else.
- It’s OK to talk about puberty. Turning Red serves as a great metaphor for tweens and teens going through puberty. While we know the subject can be a difficult for parents to discuss with kids, this movie could be a great starting point to talk with your kids about puberty.
Now that you’ve watched Turning Red, try out these activities at home with your kids.
- Try mood journaling. It’s hard for us to keep track of our emotions. Older kids would appreciate this mood journal and for your littles, try doing a feelings chart.
- Play freeze dance. Millennial parents will especially love to play these ’00s-inspired playlists influenced by the main friend crew — Meilin, Priya, Miriamand Abby.
- Learn about red pandas. For kids obsessed with red pandas, learn more about the lesser panda with this National Geographic Readers book.
- Practicing mindfulness is a great way for kids to help calm their emotions. Try out this breathing exercise from New Horizon.
- Make congee. Many Chinese families might immediately recognize Mei’s mom, Ming, serving the breakfast rice porridge with an adorable smiley face. You can recreate the Chinese comfort food at home with this Pixar recipe.
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