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  • Writer's pictureMariana Chavez

An "angry" child first session.

This first child client session was wonderful. I am surprised by his intuition, his potential, his emotional intelligence. Between 4 and 6 years old, children know a lot about their inner world and express it with colors, shapes, images, fantasy and play. Their emotions are reflected in their gestures, their looks, their tone of voice.

Why would a child that age come to therapy? I'm going to be honest with you, as I always like to be. They would come to teach me. To teach me about my own dilemmas and emotional contradictions, about my defense mechanisms, about the reason for their existence.

I learn from children in a clear and obvious way what for us adults is a puzzle and a headache for months or even years.

Today I came home happy, revitalized, curious, as always after a session with children. This initial session, our first family therapy session (mothers and/or fathers with their children). In this session my little client told me about the process of his “tantrums,” what in adult language we would call rage. His mother and father are worried because these tantrums are happening more and more frequently and with more intensity. Additionally, his parents express concern about what he says during these tantrum episodes.

Within 15 minutes of meeting each other for the first time, my little client began to explain to me that for him his tantrum is like a big circle on the white sheet of paper. While I was going to draw the circle in a specific size, he took his arms out of the sheet and showed me how big that circle of anger was. He told me that there were colors, and that they were everywhere, even outside the circle. The emotions he mentioned were anger, love, happiness, joy and also boredom.

He also explained to me that after feeling angry for a long time, it changed color and that was when he said many things that made him feel very bad, like "when I once told my mother to kill me, because I don't want to live anymore." , or when “I told my mom yesterday that I would kick her when she died.” He also said “I would never really do it”, he stood up and hugged his mother and said “I would hug you mom, when you die she would hug you”.

Just by listening to it I think you could understand the wonder of hearing the emotional world of a child, the power, the truth, the wisdom. We lose it later, perhaps after adolescence. Later, when we live drowning in symptoms of depression, numbness, anxiety, addictions, physical illnesses, broken relationships, lost identities, in those moments we know almost nothing about our true emotions.

As I get to know this child, I only know that his parents are two responsible adults who love him very much and that is why they want to know how to help him with his "intense tantrums", also because his twin sister does not show them either in frequency or in intensity. His parents wanted and planned for both of them and this child shows that other areas of his development are going well, he learns at the level, and is more in person, he shows himself to be a fairly intelligent child.

In the session with this child, and through the initial interview I had only with his mother, I heard him say what is on his mind with verbal expressions such as “I am very bad” and just “I want to die.” I can sense that this is not the way his parents talk to him or try to make him feel. This information comes from himself, the human instinct is to make sense of our contradictory and complex emotional experience. He is likely seeking deep existential answers. And, if my parents love me and I love them, why do I say such bad things? It's wrong? What's going on? I'm out of control, something is wrong, and his conclusion is probably to think “I'm the one who's wrong.”

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