Disability Advice

Reviews and advice for disabled people by disabled people.

Tools and techniques for Parents and Carers part 1

Circles of Control, Infulence and Concern

Who I am?

My name is Toby Buckle and I am a parent of a disabled child with complex needs. I am also a leadership coach responsible for training others in techniques to manage situations, influence people and become resilient. I have done this in organisations such as National Geographic, the Prison Service and the NHS.

I want everyone to get all the help they need, but that is often difficult to achieve when faced with the complexity in our health service and social care systems and with all the pressures that caring for someone can place upon us.

What I am doing?

I want to share the tools and techniques I have found most useful in being a dad of a disabled child, so I have produced a series of articles and videos to do this. I believe these tools make a tough job a little easier.

Topics I will be covering include:

  • How to focus your efforts and prioritise what you need.
  • How to plan effectively to get the best care and manage multiple contacts and resources.
  • How to save time and influence others to be more efficient and effective in helping you.
  • How to empower the person you are caring for.
  • How to build resilience and manage stress

How to focus your efforts and decide who to influence.

It can be overwhelming:

Often there is an amazing amount of appointments in many different places and departments, and many different people to deal with. On top of this you can end up having to organise finances, benefits and assistance as well.

It can quickly become overwhelming. You can also feel that you can’t control anything or that you are hitting your head against a brick wall. You need to find a way of working out what to do.

Work out what can you can do.

In any situation it helps to think:

  1. What can I control?
  2. Who can I influence?
  3. What is just a concern?

Drawing a set of circles as shown and stepping back from it allows this to happen in a structured way and gives you a mental distance from trying to work it all out all in your head.

How it works in practice

For my daughter Georgia physiotherapy is really important. I have had to really push for this though. Often I have been told that only certain amount is available or that hydrotherapy hasn’t been available at all.

  1. Control: By using the circles I recognised I could control how much physiotherapy we did at home if we focused on how to motivate ourselves and Georgia to do it and we got regular instruction on what to do.

  2. Influence: In this circle I mapped out all the people who might be able to influence the situation. I considered key specialists at Great Ormond Street, local doctors and hospital specialists, charities and people involved with her care. By doing this I discovered I had much more potential for influencing than I just requesting more on my own.

    Having got a list I worked out who I thought would be able to help most and made sure I spoke to them about it when I next saw them by putting it on my list of things to talk about. I also asked them if they would take a specific action such as write a letter or speak to a key person about it.

  3. Concern: I figured things like getting more local funding or having a local hydrotherapy policy were not something I was prepared to try and do at this time. By doing this I could save energy on thinking about it or complaining about it with no effect.


We often feel powerless when caring for someone. This technique allows you to expand the area of influence you have, and accept you are not going to have the energy to influence and control everything.

Have a try and see how it works for you.

In the next article I am going to be looking at how best you can plan and prioritise your time and efforts to get the best results.

Toby Buckle

Article Type: