chapter  6
11 Pages

Healing the hurt

Hurt children are particularly vulnerable and needy and this makes them demanding to work with. Struggling to get their needs met, they can behave in ways that might quickly be labelled as spiteful, aggressive, demanding, whinging and defiant. Seeing children as behaving this way ‘deliberately’ and taking this personally is not helpful in understanding, responding to or managing challenging behaviour. Children who have powerful reactions to damaging life experiences require more effort in every direction and it is essential that professionals on the front line seek both support from colleagues and ways of maintaining their emotional resources (see Chapter 9). Accepting children but not their behaviour is important not only for the child’s self-esteem but also to maximize their cooperation. Research indicates that children are more likely to be compliant when approval is high but follow directives less willingly when approval is low (Atwater and Morris 1988).