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  • Stace Burnard

Sensitive Students and Children

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Vulnerable and sensitive students with complex mental and emotional challenges enter our classrooms every day. How can we work with these children effectively when we are unclear of their past histories and their exact diagnosis may not be known?

There are some evidenced practices that can help build positive interactions with these children and youth such that blow-ups and escalations can be avoided or prevented, as well as best practices that can be invoked when escalations do occur.

Dr. Martin Brokenleg refers to bids for attention. We may not always like or welcome these bids, as they are not always positive, such as when a student tells us to f##k off. But it is in these most stressful times, when we are most triggered that vulnerable children are watching how we will respond to their bid. Will we continue to reach out or withdraw? It is critical that we are responsive and calm rather than reactive and impulsive in these problem solving moments as these encounters are all opportunities for learning and will impact our future successes with these students, and in fact all youngsters. We are their models for behaviour.

Challenging perceptions and building trust with our sensitive students requires us to ask questions of ourselves. Am I teaching student responsibility or obedience? Is my focus on maintaining the relationships with my student?

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