Not all coping mechanisms are positive. Today I’d like to discuss a negative coping mechanism often used by kids in dealing with negative emotions.
What is Burying the Box?
Children and adults often use a wide range of coping mechanisms to deal with difficult situations. One such coping mechanisms that kids often employ is known as “Burying the Box” of feelings. Burying the Box is all about disguising the impacts of difficult emotions by putting on a “happy face” and an air of confidence to the outside world.
Just because someone has a smile on their face and seems to be fine doesn’t mean that’s actually the case. As discussed in my last article, children generally have little control over their own surroundings. This results in them using coping mechanisms that aren’t always particularly healthy. I often see it in clients (especially those aged 13-18) who will laugh off their experiences as if they don’t matter and have discernible impact on them.
Underneath the confidence though is a young person putting up their guard and not allowing anyone to come too close. They build these false walls telling people telling people “I’m fine” or “My day was ok thanks” rather than dealing with the underlying emotions. You will soon realise these statements come with little detail or support. A kid who is Burying the Box will appear as though they are soaring with confidence to their peers while totally shutting off the people who know what they have been through. This is because they want to minimize the risk of having to talk about their actual feelings.