Can I tell you a secret? I sometimes find things difficult to do. Even writing this article was tricky at first – I tried to open up my document on my laptop to start typing and… nothing. Well, I got that spinning circle on my screen, which means that the computer is thinking about doing something, but nothing is actually happening. Eventually I had to switch the laptop off, turn it back on again and hope that it would start working. And do you know what? It did!
There is another secret which you might not know – absolutely everyone finds things hard at times. Your parents, grandparents, friends, teachers… everyone. And there’s something else – sometimes people find the same things hard, while at other times we struggle with different things. For example, I find running up big hills quite difficult, but someone else – maybe you! – might find that super simple and easy. I think, though, that we would probably all find it quite hard to run up a mountain which was covered in treacle! Can you imagine a mountain covered in treacle? Wow, that would be a sticky mess!
There are many things which have the potential to make us struggle a bit. And do you know what? That’s okay! There is no rule written down anywhere which says that everything should be easy for everyone all of the time. Trust me, I’ve looked. Because everyone struggles, maybe that helps us to think about the things that we each find hard.
Take school, for example. There are loads of things which you do at school:
- And so on, and so on, and so on.
That’s a lot of stuff! Have a look at that list and see which things on there you would say you are good at. I bet there’s at least one on that list. Can you think of any more to add? Can you see any connection between the things that you are good at and the things you like? Quite often we find that we like the things we are good at, and we are not so keen on the things we find harder. That makes sense, so again, remember that it’s okay to feel like that.
When we do find things hard, it is also sometimes hard to ask someone else for help. Here are some possible reasons – see if you agree with any of them, or if you can think of any more. So, we might feel:
- Worried that the teacher will be angry with us or too busy to help
- Worried that people might laugh at us
- Worried that we might not understand even after we’ve asked for help
- Worried about standing out from everyone else for asking for help
- Worried that everyone else apart from us understands
Guess what? These thoughts are really common and so, again, it is totally okay to have them. Although it is okay to have these thoughts, though, they aren’t very helpful, are they? They just leave us with a big knot of worry in our tummies. So, I have come up with some different thoughts for you to try and put in your head, to replace those worrying ones:
- What if someone else in my class is also struggling with the problem, and also feels scared to ask? I could really help me and them out by asking for help. I’m going to do it!
- The last time someone asked for help in class, no-one laughed at them. Hmm, that means that they probably won’t laugh at me either. Right, I’m going to do it!
- The last time someone asked for help in class, the teacher didn’t shout at them. Hmm, that means that I probably won’t get shouted at either. Right, I’m going to do it!
- If I don’t understand after it has been explained to me, well, that’s really not something for me to worry about. I need to tell the person that I didn’t understand, because they need to know they didn’t really explain very well and they need to try again for me. I deserve to understand as well as everyone else in my class.
Do you see the difference? These thoughts show that we all deserve to understand as well as anyone else round about us, and there are things we can do to help with that. There are also things that other people can do to help – but they need to know first, so try to take that first step and ask the questions you need to. If you don’t manage to ask when the whole class is sitting together, you could maybe go to the teacher’s desk or you could ask just before you go for break or for lunch.
Guess what? Sometimes things that we are worried about feel huge in our heads and in the rest of our bodies. But guess what? There is usually a solution which is quick and easy to find, and which can make that huge problem shrink like a balloon which has been popped.
Remember: It’s Okay:
- to find things difficult
- to worry about asking for help
But, remember: It’s Okay:
- to speak up and ask for that help
- to check again if the answer wasn’t clear
- to change your thoughts, to make the big worries into popped balloons with quick and easy solutions.
Two things to try:
- Ask your teacher or parent/carer for help with something you have been unsure about
- Instead of saying, ‘I don’t know’, ask, ‘How can I find out?’, or ‘How can I better understand?’