“Everyone’s will be better than mine”

This is what a 9 year old told his class teacher this week after she asked him why he kept rubbing his work out all the time. For this child, his strong sense of “i’m not good enough” is having an impact on his ability to settle and engage with any aspects of his learning. This became particularly apparent during a recent art class where he spent most of the lesson drawing, rubbing it out and eventually putting his paper in the bin and asking for another piece before repeating the whole process again.

I suggested his class teacher explore with him what it would feel like to have a go at doing it again and acknowledge how hard it can be when we keep trying to do something and it doesn’t work out how we want it to. I encouraged her to use words such as frustrating, furious and embarrassed to ensure he felt his feelings were being validated and understood.

A week later she tried this process with him and used lots of praise and support, resulting in him creating a picture. She offered him the chance to have it laminated and put on the wall, which he was unsure of at first, so she encouraged him to choose where it went and how it was displayed, which he was happy with.

For children with such a fragile sense of themselves, the adult support and acknowledgement of their feelings is crucial to enable them to understand and process their feelings. This sense of validation can normalise feelings for children that may otherwise overwhelm them and can enable them to take steps in the right direction to feeling better about themselves.

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