Chico Center for Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy and Counseling services for Children & Adults | Support for Parents


Chico therapist An Bulkens, LMFT is psychotherapist and counselor in Chico, California.  An Bulkens specializes in psychotherapy and counseling for young children  (toddlers, preschoolers, adolescents) and support for parents, with a special emphasis on  early childhood psychotherapy, and counseling  for preschoolers and Kindergarten aged child.  She also offers parenting skills support. She offers psychoanalytic psychotherapy for adults.  Her approach is grounded in  Lacanian Psychoanalysis. She was also trained as a clinical psychologist in Europe, Belgium.  Her education emphasized developmental psychology and psychoanalytic therapy. 

How to handle your child's aggression?

In therapy with children, or in consulting work with parents the topic of a child's aggression often comes up. This is often quite troublesome for parents. 

Young children in their play like to pretend that one of the parents is dead, or little boys (and girls) sometimes like to 'shoot' everyone who is around. Parents are often scared and troubled by this 'aggressive' behavior, and might have the tendency to 'suppress' it, to 'forbid' it. However, the child is playing in the realm of the 'imaginary,' 'pretend.' Like I mentioned before, by forbidding this play, we miss the point, and we deprive the child of work that is crucial in helping him or her deal with the demands or his reality. Children need these phantasies, this imaginary world in an attempt to leave their crushing dependence on their parents in reality. They imagine being in a different world where they can be adults. It is important that the parents are not upset or bothered when the child plays this way. On the contrary, it would help the child a great deal that if the child 'shoots' them, they accept verbally to be dead.

Thanks to this play, to the pretend play in this imaginary world, the child can tolerates the reality, the limits to his freedom. Without this play the child would be without any defense against the cruelties in the world. The imaginary helps the child protect himself from the difficulties in the world.  Children are in need of this kind of play. 

Rather than 'forbidding' it, it would be better to offer a frame for it, to allow it within certain limits. For boys, this aggressive behavior can also be just a way to show that he is a boy. He can be congratulated on his strength, his power, and if the play becomes unsafe, he can be guided to a more constructive way of showing his strength. 

To schedule an appointment, contact An at (530) 321-2970

An Bulkens    |    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist    |   MFC 52746

Tel. (530) 321- 2970    |   186 E 12th ST,  Chico, CA 95928