A sensitive article about troubled children in this week’s TES struck deep into the heart.
It was entitled “What keeps me awake at night? Too many troubled children, too little time” and was written by an English teacher in south-east England.
Troubled pupils from every social background are becoming more and more common, claims our concerned teacher.
The challenge – How to claw back time from less important tasks to give these kids the time and attention they crave.
Researching further into this subject of concern revealed some of the reasons for the challenging behaviour patterns that these pupils display.
1) Step Change
The transition from a care giving environment to an educational environment is challenging enough for children from supportive backgrounds, it’s a total nightmare for those coming from dysfunctional families.
School is a place of learning, socialization, structure and rules. It is a place run by adults other than their own parents. Life at school is very different to life at home.
It’s here in the classroom that pupils begin to encounter diversity, differences in:
- Physical abilities
- Culture and upbringing
Self-esteem grows with academic and social successes but shrinks when failure is encountered.
Most kids make the transition relatively easily, quickly getting into alignment with learning and expected behaviour with the usual minor hitches along the way.
Troubled children react differently. The imposed changeover is difficult for them and their teachers and teaching assistants.
Troubled children and children of trauma usually come from families of intergenerational abuse involving:
- Drug addiction
- Physical and sexual abuse
- Frequent housing moves
- Absent parents
- Depressed parents
- Parents working in 2 or 3 jobs
- Emotionally absent caregivers
This often results in aggressive behaviour. These children are defiant and hostile to teachers and their classroom assistants.
They refuse to read or do any work. It’s difficult for the caregivers to view life from their perspective.
The teaching staff cannot relate to the number of stressors the trauma children experience every single day at home and in school.
Does the blame rest with the parents? The immediate answer that comes to mind is yes, that’s where the problem originated. But research shows that the parents of these troubled children:
- Loved them
- Were traumatized themselves
- Didn’t know how to give the children what they had never got
- Couldn’t meet basic attachment or emotional needs
How do these facts make the children feel and act?
Therefore their offspring have major difficulties with social and emotional needs. They feel that no one understands them, they are not loved and that they are failures.
Imagine repeatedly returning to the place that reflects and amplifies your feelings of failure. It shouts that you have failed, it tells you that all you do is wrong and that there is a massive difference between you and the others. You just do not fit in! Well that’s how these troubled children feel.
Is it any wonder that the author of the TES article stays awake at night?