March 11, 2020

Homework, School-work or House-work Avoidance

By Mavis Kerrigan, IEMT Trainer

Do you have children who often try to avoid doing their homework or even try to avoid doing any work at school or at home? Do you avoid doing specific jobs yourself? It's often not so well known that children and even adults who avoid doing things are not avoiding it because they cannot physically do it or haven't got the knowledge to do it. They are often, without realising it, unconsciously using their behaviour to let others know that all is not well within. It's a sign of feeling very anxious and sometimes depressed.

In NLP, people learn to start with the assumption that all behaviour has meaning and sometimes has deep meaning, and that the behaviour you are exhibiting at any moment in time is the best behaviour you know of.

When children are babies, they cry to get attention and hopefully they get the attention they need as soon as possible. Some babies even cry or scream all day and night and no one can pacify them with cuddles or playthings, and if they have already had their feed, they cannot be pacified
with yet another feed because they would be feeding all day. This, is in my early days as a parent, was diagnosed as '3-month colic' in my first child and even the 'digestive' medication didn't help.

Back in the 1970s when my children were born, no one knew the true reasons for this condition. And there were no easy solutions within my reach - no internet and no helpful groups. And if this happens with your baby it can be stressful not only for the child but for the parents as well. But I suspect that my first baby, whose colic lasted for two and half months was affected by my anxiousness about trying to be the best parent and not knowing how, and the fact that it hadn't been an easy pregnancy.

It was a great friend and her young children, in the end, who miraculously helped me, when we all went to stay with her for a few days. Somehow, I learned to relax. And my baby slept for more than 12 hours for the very first time in her very young life, on the very first night in my friend’s children's bedroom, and became one of the happiest babies around after this. And this helped us in so many ways - and the main one being that we had a good night's sleep every night.

When we have older children though, it can be even more difficult because they are on a journey of learning to be independent or may have become independent, so we need some extra ideas of what we can do to help.

Emotional problems in children lead to anxiety and bad moods. Outbursts and withdrawal can be a symptom of anxiety or feeling depressed or pressurised. Sometimes their outbursts or withdrawals can stem from our own experiences in the past which we think we have dealt with but sometimes, an aspect of it is still lurking and it appears without us realising its source, when we least expect it.

In IEMT we learn about the causes of anxiety. An angry outburst, for example, can be a symptom of guilt or regret because children know that they are letting you down, letting themselves down and letting the class and school down if they don't do their work. They have probably been told this in no uncertain terms at school and sometimes even at home. They may even tell themselves silently that they are letting everyone down. And this isn't a helpful base on which to start to do their homework, for example.

So, it's important to discover why children cannot do their homework. It could be because of their need to do it perfectly every time. Can you imagine how anxious or fearful you would feel if you had a belief that you had to pick up every single piece of dust every time you hoovered the floor and dusted the furniture to make your home perfect?

Children could even have modelled a family member who became stressed by in their efforts to do a task perfectly and your child learned how to become stressed themselves. And as the years go by, the need for perfection, or the need to at least do it as well as their friends, strengthens.

But it makes tasks become more and more difficult to complete or even start. And this is why things often don't get done. But this can be changed if you want it to change.

These beliefs in a child or adult can start anywhere at any time, with even a single 'look' or a single 'word' from someone else. For 'N', one of the 11-year-olds I helped recently, it was 'At the age of 7, having to stand up in front of the class and read a difficult text and making lots of mistakes while reading it and feeling everyone's eyes on him as he did so'. This was helped with a 30-minute session of IEMT and cleared the way for him to begin to relearn.

His experience as a 7-year-old had escalated into him becoming 'borderline dyslexic', hating books, refusing to do his homework or doing it under duress, and being in the special needs withdrawal group - until he had some help from me to improve his reading and comprehension -
he began to enjoy reading his own storybooks again - and felt more confident to do his SATs tests - for which he received an 'at Standard' result which amazed the school and delighted him and his parents - as well as me!

If you think underlying fears, guilt, regret, anger or any other feelings or thoughts could be the cause of emotional outbursts or avoidance in your family and you need some help with it, you can contact me by direct message on Facebook or at and enquire about coaching, therapy, and training, or you can join my Introduction to IEMT Workshop in Southampton, which is a 3-hr session for a maximum of 6 people and costs £27.

You'll learn at least 3 ways to help you and your family calm down and some of the theories which support the activities you can learn in the full IEMT Practitioner course. PM me for details of the next ones. Of course, sometimes things don't get done because of lack of know-how or poor instructions and these need to be checked out, too. Often, practical training, coaching or teaching or a word with your child’s teacher is needed.

By Mavis Kerrigan, IEMT Trainer

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