Don’t catch kids out: instead, catch them when they fall

Teachers need to reassure children that ‘failure’ is not to be avoided at all costs but is actually a chance for them to learn and grow, says Jarlath O’Brien

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The late Donald Winnicott (1896-1971) was a paediatrician who did influential work developing the concept of what he called “holding environments” – that is to say, caring and supporting environments that lead to a firm sense of trust and safety.

Winnicott suggested that it is a duty of parents to slowly but surely disappoint their children; knowing when to say no and teaching their children that they are not their friend. He suggested that emotional problems develop when a person had been deprived of such holding environments in childhood.

Meanwhile, Wilfred Bion (1897-1979) spoke of ...

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