Powerlessness creeps in as a result of setbacks children experience as they strive to feel confident and self-assured. They can’t do things as well as their older siblings or peers, so they feel frustrated. They are criticized and punished and given grades, so they feel judged. They are flooded with messages about how they are supposed to buy, so they feel inadequate. The combined effect of these feelings leads children to retreat to the fortress of powerlessness, either down to the hidden dungeons (passivity) or up to the battlements (agressive pseudo-power).
— Lawrence J. Cohen in Playful Parenting