Putting up with stuff that is not the way it should be, it is a bad idea.
If you need to find some motivation to get you doing the getting-things-on-track stuff, then just keep on reading…
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was working and working and working and working. But I was not doing it in a particularly effective way.
As it happened, there were certain things about my life that were probably starting to go a bit wonky, but it felt like I was too busy to do anything about them.
Now, the reason why I’m telling you this story is that I speak to lots of parents, I’ll be honest, I speak to a lot of headteachers who say “We have a problem, but now’s not the right time to sort it out. Let me put it off for a little while. I’m too busy to attend to that problem right now. We’ll circle back to it a little bit further down the line.”
I fully understand that mindset, because that’s the mindset that I was in a few years back.
In fact, things got so bad. I was firefighting…..all the time. Do you know the game, whack-a-mole? You have a little mole that pops his head up from a board and you whack it but then it pops up somewhere else? That was basically my life, but the mole was a metaphor for my problems.
I refer to it as firefighting because it’s as if you put out one little fire in one place and then another one sprouts up somewhere else. But some of those problems might be slightly bigger problems that are not getting properly attended to because you’re too busy doing the firefighting.
I’ve spoken to parents who have said that their child is anxious and school refusing but now’s not the right time to deal with it because they’re very busy with work.
I can understand how that happens. Your attention gets zapped by the thing that seems most demanding but when you deal with the big quiet thing that’s also going on, the firefighting stuff and the little whack-a-mole stuff start taking care of themselves a little bit more, or at least you feel like you’ve got more energy to deal with them. This is because you dealt with the big monster that’s over there in the corner.
It’s the big scary thing that really needs looking at. We’ve had teachers
say “We’ve got children struggling very badly with mental health issues at the moment, but I can’t get you in to see the SENCO because she’s too busy dealing with the mental health issues in our children at the moment.”
And it’s frustrating because if you got us in to deal with it, then you wouldn’t have that problem anymore!
Anyway, back to my story!
I was firefighting and I was running around like a headless chicken, trying to take care of too many different things, quite a lot of the time for other people. (But not always, some of it was my own things) and I wasn’t dealing with the big stuff. I realised that for about three weeks, there had been something in my shoe.
Okay, now, we’ve all had that, we’ve all had a time in the past when you’ve been walking down the street and there’s a stone or a pebble in your shoe.
You could stop and deal with the problem, take off the shoe and get the stone out but maybe instead you do that thing where you tap the toe of your shoe. Then you just shuffle the foreign object down to the front of the shoe and you don’t really deal with the problem. You just shuffle the problem out of the way.
I was doing that. I had something in my shoe for three weeks, three weeks of shuffling, whatever that was down to the toe, telling myself I’ll deal with it on a day when I can deal with it.
I was getting ready for work one morning, and my client had cancelled my morning appointment, but I didn’t know until I was about to leave. So, I thought, “You know what, I may as well get in early and just have a bit of a chilled morning and sort some of those things out that have been on my mind.”
I put my shoes on to leave for work and I realised there was still something in my shoe but now is a good time to deal with it.
I shook my shoe upside down, and out came a dead beetle.
I’d been walking around with a dead Beetle in my shoe for three weeks.
That is not acceptable.
That is not an acceptable way for an adult to function.
So, here’s the moral of the story.
If there is a thing that you’re experiencing with a child or a young person in your life, don’t put it off. Don’t turn it into the beetle in your shoe, that you just kind of shuffle away. I don’t mean you’re shuffling your children away; I mean that you are kind of side-lining the problems and firefighting around it, dealing with it day by day, but not really doing the thing that would solve it and resolve the issue.
That might mean that you need to cancel an appointment or take 10 minutes to spare so that you can sit down and send that email, make that phone call reach out to whoever you need to reach out to, to be able to help that young person.
Putting up with a beetle in your shoe is exhausting and it is unnecessary.
You are causing yourself to continue to deal with pain that you do not need to have. And so, if you can take the time to address this properly, you can get rid of that pain forever. And that young person who is probably going through the pain on a very different level to you, will also get to deal with that pain and get rid of it forever. That is entirely possible.
But you’re probably going to need to pause to put the planning in place to be able to deal with this thing.
Don’t make it a beetle in your shoe.
By Gemma Bailey
The original version of this article was written by Gemma Bailey, director of www.NLP4Kids.org.
It was republished and rebuilt with additional content by NLP4KIDS PRACTITIONER IAN DAVIES