Why Some Children Come to School with “Baggage”: The Effects of Trauma Due to Poverty, Attachment Disruption and Disconnection on Social Skills and Relationships


  • Irene G Wilkinson




Children living in adverse conditions of poverty and/or abuse or in institutional or foster care, suffer physiological changes in their developing brains which negatively affect their social skills and therefore their ability to socialize and form meaningful connections with others. Impeded social skills development also interferes with children’s ability to demonstrate self-control, to learn and to demonstrate appropriate behaviour. Their physical and emotional health and wellbeing also suffer. Without greater understanding, intervention and support from schools, the future for these children continues to look extremely bleak. The emotional and social costs are high. This paper looks at the effects of trauma due to poverty, parent-child separation (attachment disruption) and disconnection on social skills development in children and the reasons why some children who have experienced adversity early in their lives, come to school with “baggage”. It takes a cursory look at the effects of emotional trauma on the developing brain and examines why affected children often demonstrate anti-social behaviour and struggle with forming meaningful relationships and learning in school. Also considered are the problems encountered by some children at the upper end of the socioeconomic spectrum, most particularly their difficulties making friends.