‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak
Interview with Rachel Melville-Thomas, Child & Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist
Why do you like this book?
This is a brilliant book to help children when they feel full of feelings and don’t know what to do.
The pictures are wonderful, the powerful message is simple despite very few words, and yet the real emotional meaning is never overtly said – a secret message to all children!
What does it help children think about?
Wild Things offers a way for children to see how angry feelings and rebellious thoughts can be expressed, with all the strength of a band of terrible monsters, and yet when the rage is all over, a parent still loves them.
The bravest thing the little boy Max does, is to go back home, even when he knows he has been in trouble. In the middle of the great monster party, Max yearns for a place where he isn’t the boss, but he knows he is understood.
What other advice might you give to parents when talking about angry feelings with their child?
Show your child that you are just as interested in the bad feelings as the good. And that you will try to understand what those feelings are about. That they won’t just be punished for having cross and wolf-like behaviour. No matter how much they roar and roll their eyes and show their ‘claws, and try to ‘be the boss’, you will try hard to calm them down, give them a snack and a cuddle and have a talk about it all. Next time, they might be able to put the feelings into words.