Mad Feelings Program

My Mad Feelings—A Bullying Prevention Program

The Mad Feelings Program was developed and illustrated by Victoria Todd, Child Psychoanalyst, in cooperation with the Hanna Perkins Center. It was based on a need for meaningful intervention in daycares, where classic bullying as well as acts of aggression were leading to expulsion.

Four-year-old boy says he is going to put another peer in jail, “just like your dad.”

Four-year-old girls tell a peer that “Nobody likes you.  Go away.”

Four-year-old boy tells a peer that he will “kick him hard” if he doesn’t hand over a toy.

Four-year-old girl says she is going to kill a peer’s mother and cut her head off.

Five-year-old girl tells a peer she can’t play in the dollhouse because she has an ugly face.  “Like this doll.”  She then drops the doll and starts stomping it.

Five-year-old boy tells a much smaller peer that he knows where he lives and is going to “get” him, whereupon the smaller peer starts to cry.

The Mad Feeling Program teaches children the difference between mad and mean and how to express their mad feelings in an appropriate way. This is done through stories that they can relate to and discuss on the following subjects:

  1. “Use your Words” for mad feelings rather than acting them out
  2. Little, medium and big mad (affect modulation)
  3. Losing your loving feelings when angered (drive diffusion)
  4. Mad not mean—how to verbalize your mad feelings, rather than hurting others with your body or your words)
  5. “Mean fun”—bully’s pleasure in hurting others (sadism)
  6. Stop–holding the mad until you settle down and can think clearly; otherwise you’ll only make things worse. (containment)

The format includes, first and foremost, meeting with parents and early education professionals to go over the concepts as their support and reinforcement is essential for success.  Then, weekly (app. 30 minute) sessions are held with the children to discuss a related story and to hear their experiences.  The program length is 12-14 weeks depending on how quickly the children integrate the material.

The Mad Feelings Program, which is nominated for the Anna Freud Educational Achievement Award through the American Psychoanalytic Association, has been featured on local news broadcasts. It is offered in all of the Shaker Heights preschools, Glenview, Bingham, the Urban School and Spanish American Committee Daycare as well as in Trinidad through a cooperative venture with Case Western Reserve University. If you are interested in the program, please contact Pamela Millar at Hanna Perkins (216) 991-4472.