The invisible child

The following is an extract from one of the chapters in my Making a Difference Guide.  The invisible children in our schools sometimes get overlooked and yet can need our attention as much as some of  the more demanding children we work with…

For this half term we are going to be focusing on and thinking about the children who are sometimes less visible in our class. These children are desperate not to be seen and will use many different ways to ensure they achieve this. These children have learnt to be wary of adult relationships and they will try to avoid interactions with adults. They are often overlooked as their behaviour tends to be more internalised than externalised.

Profile checklist:

• Their aim is not to be noticed
• Quiet and withdrawn, fear of failure
• Don’t trust others to meet their needs
• Self-reliant and independent, especially for their age
• Reluctant to ask for help when they need it
• Distress is hidden or denied
• Can appear to be ok and settled most of the time
• Fear intimacy and emotional connection with people
• Resist help from adults but lacks confidence in their own ability
• May appear indifferent to new situations

How children may present

These children are not usually a problem to have in class and they can go under the radar as they may present as quiet and withdrawn. They can appear to be uncaring and may find it hard to show any emotion. Their facial expression may remain the same throughout the day as the events and circumstances around them change. For example, a child who shows no remorse when they have hurt another child and appears to have little or no understanding of other people’s feelings. It can be very difficult for a child to understand other people’s feelings if they have little or no understanding of their own. A child who finds it hard to show feelings may also have learnt to bury their physical pain along with their emotional discomfort. They may have learnt that no matter how much something hurts it is not safe to make a fuss or ask for help….

Here are a couple of the strategies suggested in the book that you might want to try with children like this:


  • Comment on and acknowledge the work they are doing, e.g. ‘You are working really hard on your maths today.’
  • Let them lead the relationship and approach adults when they need to.
  • Remind them you can help them if they need it; offer them the opportunity to indicate they need help without actually using words, e.g. ‘It can be hard to ask for help, if you put your hand up I will know that you need help and come over to you straight away’.

You can find out more about the Making a Difference guide here

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