Children who sabotage

Some children have such negative and traumatic life experiences that they approach life with a “what’s the point” attitude. This has been learnt as a defence mechanism against feeling hurt and upset. Their lives have been so painful that they can’t be hurt anymore, things are so awful for them outside of school that no matter what consequences they may face in school they can’t hurt them as much as they are already hurting. School can not impose any sanction that will make them feel worse than they already do. They may find it difficult to manage their feelings in a variety of different situations such as the excitement and fear of going on a school trip. The anxiety, excitement, fear and apprehension of this new experience may be overwhelming for some children and can manifest itself in different ways.
Children who experience overwhelming feelings may make situations worse or sabotage a situation or a piece of work to enable them to cope with their feelings. For example, a child who destroys their work either by tearing it up or scribbling over it may have a deeply ingrained sense of themselves as not good enough. They may show that they are not bothered about the work or even pleased that it has been destroyed, but this can be a protective mechanism “If I destroy it at least it’s me who’s done it, not the teacher.” These children need gentle and subtle identification of their qualities and skills in order to develop confidence and self esteem in their own time and at their own pace.

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