When working with children from hard places, a major emotional struggle is overcoming anger and aggression. Many of these children have so much anger built up that sometimes they don’t even know what they are angry about—they just explode. Also, issues that most of us may find as “not a big deal” may be a huge deal to them and is expressed as an explosive episode.
One common issue I have encountered is hesitation to process anger triggers.
Hesitation and resistance to therapy can be common in these kiddos, so developing a technique to one: help these children feel more comfortable to process topics, and two: help them build trust with you so they continue processing their struggles, is much needed.
That is where the idea of Taki Talk was developed.
Taki Talk is just as it sounds…offering a hot, spicy snack to the kiddo and sitting down to process anger. A hot, spicy snack was chosen because kids often describe their bodies as feeling “hot” or describe a “hot temper.” The snack is used to demonstrate how the body feels in these moments. Plus, most children love hot or spicy snacks.
Taki Talk gives a child the opportunity to have his blood glucose and hydration needs met (because water will be needed with the snack) and allows him to process the topic of anger effectively.
Taki Talk is like a talk show.
The therapy office is set up similarly to a talk show set, with only one audience member, a giant stuffed bear named “Taki.” The child can pull the bear up to the set then use it for support and comfort as much as he needs it.
Now, offering a snack similar to this can be seen by some as a way to bribe the child to talk to you about his business. However, many children have minimal trust in others, so if you expect them to sit on a couch and initially start telling you how they feel, you will get push back and more than likely, not be able to get through to them.
Offering a snack, presenting the idea of Taki Talk, and allowing a child to give you as much information as he desires, really builds trust. In the long run, it helps the child learn how to build trust with a trusted adult.
I have seen Taki Talk work with most of the children I see. Many come to The Genesis Project with an expectation for therapy, but those expectations quickly fade, and the boys begin to develop a love for coming to the office and processing their anger.
Results have shown children begin processing their anger triggers and finding the root of the triggers. Some children even begin processing some of their trauma background. As the play therapy technique is continued, the child begins to build trust in me as a therapist and expresses his hurts without feeling judged.
Overall, this is a very successful technique. Here are a couple of sentiments from kiddos about why they enjoy Taki Talk.
“Taki Talk is fun and it makes me feel better when I am mad. It helps me to say what I am mad about from the day” ~ 9 y/o Client
“I like it because it is delicious, it helps me calm down, and it helps me use my safety plan” ~ 12 y/o Client