It was like someone had switched off all emotions but anger inside 4-year-old Thalia. Her first day at Head Start, she exploded, shouting. “No! Forget it! Te odio! [I hate you].” Thalia followed that with a kick, and “BLAM,” the puzzles exploded as the rack slammed to the floor.
Thalia is angry. What is harder to see is that Thalia’s anger results from traumatic losses.
In its “Family Needs Assessment,” the Heartland Family Resource Advocate uncovered Thalia’s dramatic story. Her family left Mexico and came to the US illegally after her 14-year-old brother died. Her mom is a US citizen, but her dad is not. In the US, her dad was deported after his immigration status was exposed. Thalia and her mom then moved in with her Abuela, or grandmother. A few months later her “Abue” died.
At Head Start, Thalia started spending time with Dr. Paris from Illinois State University’s Psychological Counseling Services. Playing with Dr. Paris was fun – and it helped her to feel calm again. Thalia’s teachers offered gentle reminders of her new options.
Thalia’s rage is receding – in its place a smart, happy-natured child is emerging. Thalia’s mom appreciates the coping skills she is learning in the group meetings. Thalia future looks promising – thanks to Heartland Head Start.