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Bullying & Beyond…22. Beware of Painful Pitfalls

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

With the benefit of experience and hindsight here are 6 warning signs to save you these painful pitfalls

 

1.  If you or your child are offered a solution from a teacher or principal saying, “sometimes you have to learn to stand up for yourself,” remember your child is not the only victim of bullying here, you are too. Don’t take it! It’s not a good enough solution!

2.  If your child is starting to miss days from school and this is totally out of character for them be sure to listen to your intuition. Reflect on it. Seek advice and act on it. You might like to read Bullying & Beyond…17. Stand up, speak up!

3.  If well meaning friends knock your intuition and fail to see your child’s mental health warning signs, please, don’t act on their advice to “drag them out of bed and kick them in the butt, straight into school.” You know your child better than any concerned friend. Your child is unable to voice their upset, they are showing you instead…see the signs!

4.  If a teacher tells you at a parent teacher meeting that “sure we all say things” please read between the lines.  They are not admitting the full truth of what was said and your child is too hurt to tell you. Please don’t hold back, immediately ask what they mean! Remind them that their words have the power to empower your child or the power to destroy your child’s last threads of confidence.

5.  If your child is physically and psychologically assault and if they are offered the ‘wise’ advice by a principal to ‘build a high wall & put it all behind you’. Remember this experience is traumatic!  It has denied your child the right to respect. Demand to see the school’s anti-bullying policy. Look for evidence of their bully free zone where high walls won’t be need.

5.  If a person in authority says teachers will be more sympathetic say “I’d prefer empathy thank you,” children need a school that operates from a place of empathy not sympathy.

6.  And finally, if you are told your child needs to be more resilient…stand your ground, look the advice giver in the eye, thank them for their suggestion but leave them in no doubt that your child has been too resilient for too long in an environment that has no obvious signs of safe boundaries or a bully free zone. And then ask them how resilient they’d be in the same environment!

 

Now you’re taking ownership, using your voice and making progress… to ree-create your life beyond bullying!

Has bullying affected you or your children? What painful pitfalls did you experience? What did you learn from it?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

http://www.createspaceweb.wordpress.com

http://www.ree-creates.com

Bullying & Beyond…21. A victim’s abject loneliness.

Abject … sunk to or existing in a low state or condition : very bad or severe…

Loneliness… being without company, sad from being alone…

If you feel lonely, you are ironically not alone in that feeling, you are one of many, part of a silent epidemic, not unique to Ireland…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.independent.ie/irish-news/health/loneliness-a-silent-epidemic-and-the-last-taboo-in-ireland-37018602.html

And if you want to identify the different types of loneliness and why it matters, you might like to read…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-happiness-project/201702/7-types-loneliness-and-why-it-matters%3famp

But when mental health is being impacted by bullying, loneliness is one of the many feelings you experience.  

It wasn’t unusual for our daughter to come home from school sad and lonely.  The cause, we’d eventually learn was the result of exclusion by bullies.

Some of this exclusion came inadvertly from her quiet nature, making it difficult for her to feel free and easy in a crowd unlike her younger brother.

It’s also possible that she was labeled ‘a snob,” her quietness being mistakenly judged and found lacking; labeled unfriendly, aloof or too big for her boots.

I am compelled to warn parents to be vigilant, as the exclusion our daughter felt was very real.  

Exclusion is just one piece of arsenal employed by bullies.  It is actually a very nasty and common tool used by bullies.  It is both physical and psychological in it’s make-up.  It takes only one bully to disrespect and isolate your child and soon the bully will manage to sway the other, easily led children to do the same.  Often the other children are uneducated on the topic of bullying and being uninformed, they are unaware of the powerful and damaging impact of their actions.

Soon your child is isolated…

Alone…

Lonely…

Confused…

Voiceless…

And they begin to wear the labels, “unfriendly, “shy,” “snobby,” “not good enough” until that feeling of loneliness permiates their entire being.

Slowly their inner monologue changes from warm and fun-loving to I’m alone, unwanted, unloved.  

Before you know it, it deepens to “there’s something wrong with me, and the bullie’s labels turn your child’s belief that they are “shy” into social anxiety.

Be mindful that any ongoing stress, even when professional support is sought out, can still trigger anxiety years later.  

Panic attacks can develop, leading to further self-exclusion or worse still panic disorder.  This feeling of being overwhelmed by any social interaction can lead to agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh), a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and makes you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.  You can learn more here…

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/agoraphobia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355987

So don’t stand for bullying, address it immediately, be aware of the power of exclusion and don’t allow bullies to bully you into silence and loneliness through your child.

Have you or your child experienced exclusion? How did it affect your/your child’s inner monologue?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

… to lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen — John Milton (in Sampson Agoniste)

 

Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

Bullying & Beyond…20 Knowledge is Power!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

In a previous post I wrote about the importance of finding and using your voice…Bullying & Beyond…17. Stand up, speak up!

So where can you start?

Start with a confident front, let your child see that you can handle this upsetting situation, even if underneath you are emotionally upset and probably unsure where to begin.

The first thing you can do is quip yourself with information, search the internet, empower yourself through learning.  Remember these three words…”knowledge is power” and knowledge will ensure you are no longer stuck…

Write a list of things you can do, which could include…

1. Contact your child’s class teacher or the teacher your child feels they have a connection with and trust most. Initially make contact by phone or by letter, be discreet, limit your physical contact with the school as your presence may be observed by the bullies and cause repercussions for your child.

2. If the bullying persists, arrange an appointment with the school Principal, again be discreet as in point 1 above.  Have a list or record of bullying events so that you communicate the details accurately and effectively.

3. Consult your General Practitioner for medical support. In Ireland you need a G.P., referral to access Counselling, Psychology or Psychiatric support.

In Ireland you can also…

4. Contact a member of the Board of Management, a member of the Parents Association (most schools have a Parents Association) or the National Parents Council. Read more about NPC here… http://www.npc.ie

5. TUSLA, The Child and Family Agency is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children. Read more about TUSLA here… https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/service-strands/the-statutory-educational-welfare-service/

Under the Education (Welfare)  Act, 2000 Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) of TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency work with young people and their families who are experiencing difficulty with school attendance. Their main priority is around the welfare of children and young people and ensuring that concerns and problems around attendance are addressed before attendance becomes a crisis issue. Read more here… https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/service-strands/

In schools participating in the Department of Education and Skill’s DEIS initiative (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency have responsibility for operational management of two school-based support services – the Home School Community Liaison Scheme and the School Completion Programme. You might like to read more here… https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/school-support-services-under-the-deis-initiative/

If you are not getting the answers or support you need, schools in Ireland also have the support of NEPS; the National Educational Psychological Services.

NEPS psychologists work with both primary and post-primary schools and are concerned with learning, behaviour, social and emotional development. They work in partnership with teachers, parents and children in identifying educational needs. Read more about NEPS here…www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/NEPS-Home-Page.html

If your school does not inform you of the availability of this service, request that the NEPS Psychologist is contacted or contact them yourself as I did.

NEPS, National Educational Psychological Service https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/Information-for-Parents.html

If you or your child are/have been bullied then I would like to hear from you. Was it difficult to find information and the support you needed?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… 18.Sauce, Diamond, Lynx.

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

My writing has brought me through the best of times and the worst of times to a Spring of hope from a Winter of despair to paraphrase Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of two Cities.”

I’m breaking with my usual routine of sharing at the end of the week because, lets call a spade a spade, I have been let go again, unpaid, like every year, for 11 years now, for every holiday, from my teaching post until after the Easter holidays and so I get to spend time with my much loved and enjoyed family and writing instead of being with my much loved and enjoyed students, whose willingness to share their true selves with me… has brought me through the best of times and the worst of times to a Spring of hope from a Winter of despair!

And thanks to Paulas Light and her 3TC prompts for helping me to voice this…

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/74951/posts/2244712447

NAMELESS…

She might have thought
She got the sauce
When she retired
To a lush and early pension pot,

That Principal
With no principles or thought for
The children in her care,

Those innocent children, each a
Diamond, she was entrusted to polish
To bring them from the rough
To their most lustrous, luminous shine
She denied,

And so she left him,
unaided,
when he bravely told her
He was being bullied
Him, she left in no doubt,
That he was nothing;
NOTHING in her eyes
Far from a diamond,
Thanks to her cowardice…

“Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself”
As she said
Her damage, that depleated
The diamond of his right
To glow and shine,

Or brought his sister to the front of class

And belittled her grasp of maths

Until her peers laughed

Because of what as a

Principal and Teacher she had lost or

Worse still maybe never had..

But fear not
All is not lost,
Those diamonds
Once voiceless and violated
Have, thanks to the power of

LOVE

AND

LIGHT,

Found their inner sight and

Right to luminosity!

And fear not Mrs Principal
with no principles
Or thought for the children entrusted and dependant on your care,
For Face you will, the

Lynx that latently lies,
Lurking
Within
And your
Lush pension pot and early retirement
Will like the diamonds you failed to polish,
Quickly lose their shine and
Your demise will be one of unrelenting

SHAME…

You took our childrens childhood happiness by trampling on their cries for help,
whether it was the bullying you ignored or the bullying you perpetrated yourself
or the mental health implications,

You were implicit in creating or ignoring,

You crept inside our home
And you depleted
Our childrens childhood happiness
And bullied us, we now know, through their distress and left us unrequited…

But one day I know you’ll read this and you’ll realise, without a doubt, exactly who

You are

and what you’re made of,

And you’ll answer for it…

Have you been failed by the education system? Have you been bullied?  Just know that I have your corner, I hear you and you are a true and beautiful Diamond and you are not alone!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…17. Stand up, speak up!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

 

Your child is or has been bullied at school and you have found an opportunity to talk to them, making a written record of events as you discuss them, without being caught up in frustrating and emotionally upsetting arguments. Now pause to acknowledge the progress you have made, you’ve managed to… 6.Avoid the hook!

You’re now aware and can understand that the changes in behaviour you’ve seen are signs of bullying. Those signs probably included your child;

avoiding situations,
reducing their academic performance,
refusing to go to school,
lacking motivation, wanting to achieve goals but showing perfectionist traits, then appearing paralysed,
disappointed by not living up to the high standards they set themselves,
withdrawing into themselves,
being stressed, having emotional outbursts,
showing signs of anxiety, depression, OCD or specific phobias,
consuming excess alcohol, or maybe using drugs,
getting into trouble in school,
being charged with social disorder,
or engaging in self-harm
then…

If you are like me,
you probably struggle to know what to do.

You are unsure of where to turn next.

You are probably paralysed like we were.

You probably struggled to even accept the situation.

You wanted to wave a magic wand and fix everything…

If any of the above resonates with you, it is very important that you are pro-active. Do not allow bullying to render you paralysed. Your child might not want you to speak up for fear of making the situation worse or been seen as ‘a grass’ or a ‘cry-baby’. You must be very discreet but you must seek out support to help you stand up and speak up to bullying!

In this post I help you list what you can do.  Bullying & Beyond…20 Knowledge is Power!

Have you noticed your child’s behaviour changing? Have you struggled to understand the changes you’ve noticed.  Can you see it from a different perspective now?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…5.Loneliness

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

In my previous post I wrote about the importance of self-care, you might like to read it 4.Self-care x 10! When you or your children are struggling to cope with bullying it is very important to continue to practice self-care during and after the event.   Being bullied can cause strong feelings of loneliness which come from the isolation of bullying. Bullying thrives on isolation and fear. Lack of access to information, lack of support and worse still lack of knowing which way to turn or who to ask for help all serve to enhance the isolation and loneliness you feel!

The loneliness was something I found hardest to cope with as I struggled to find answers and effective support.

But there is help out there.  Don’t allow yourself to be rendered voiceless.

So I want YOU to know that I am here for YOU and YOU are not alone…reach out, share your concerns and talk about the bullying you or your child are experiencing.

What has been your experience of the loneliness of bullying?  How would you describe the loneliness of bullying?  How did you overcome it?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

“Acceptance” on Monday’s Memory Lane…

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In this post I tried to share a parent’s exhilaration and gratitude at the sound of a toilet being flushed! I fully understand if you are confused and I invite you to step into my shoes by reading along…ACCEPTANCE!

Have you or your children struggled with the impact of school bullying?  How did it impact your/their/your families life/lives? Can you recall the first sign of recovery and how it made you feel?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…4.Self-care x 10!

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

In my previous post on bullying I shared some listening tips I found helpful  Read it here

Another important aspect of listening, when bullying is an issue for you or your children, is listening to what your own body is telling you.

When you are stressed you might notice that you behave in ways that are out of character.  Examples could include cancelling a day out with a friend, missing time at work or increasing your consumption of food or drink, as a source of comfort.  You might realise you feel anxious and ready to snap at those around you.  If this sounds very familiar then self-care is the answer.

There is a well known saying… “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”   No matter how tough we think we are, any on-going, distressing situation can wear down our resilience and make us want to run as far away as possible from the upset.  I’ve been there, many times, when I felt helpless to improve the situation for both our children.  I felt totally stressed and unable to concentrate on other aspects of my life.

Thankfully I realised the importance of self-care.  I realised I could not be a source of support to others if I did not look after my own health and welfare first.

To be your best self and function at peak capability, particularly at a time of crisis, YOU need to make time and space for YOU.  

I can’t emphasise enough, the importance of that last sentence!  Self-care might initially involve some professional counselling support for you or your child.  Finding a Counsellor or Psychologist experienced in the area of bullying, and building a positive relationship based on trust, will be the corner-stone to making progress.

Another important part of self-care is finding ways to forget your worries. Part of the reason why I developed this blog and called it “Create Space” was to “create” some “space” for me, to zone out from my concerns, and focus instead on my interests and the positives in my life. This creative space helped me recharge.  I forgot my worries and built my resilience!

Try to find what lights your fire, whether it is joining a yoga class or having coffee with a friend.  Try a walk in the fresh air if you can’t think of anything that would brighted your day.  Self-care will nurture your inner child, lift your spirit, help you put things into perspective and clear your head to enable you consider new solutions.

Remember to practice Self-care!  Better still practice “Self-care, times 10!”

I hope you found this helpful or maybe you know someone who might find it helpful.  I’d love to hear your thoughts. What happens when you neglect self-care?  What’s the last thing you did for fun? How does having “me” time make you feel and why would you recommend it?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…3.Improve your Listening Skills!

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

In my previous post…Bullying & Beyond…2.Really Listen!…I wrote about the importance of Listening.  When somebody, be it a child or an adult, is distressed as a result of bullying, just having somebody who is willing to listen to them can make a huge difference to how they feel.  Your first reaction may be to rush in and immediately solve everything but instead be patient and listen.

Here are some simple tips I found helpful,

1.Acknowledge your child’s emotional state -say that you can see how upset, angry etc., they are.

2.Remove or resist any distractions.

3.Make sure you can clearly hear what your child is saying.

4. Focus your attention and concentrate.

5. Be patient, listen to the whole story.

6. Make encouraging, agreeable sounds to show you are paying attention…’mmm,’ ‘I see,’ ‘oh right’.

7. Avoid making judgements – take time to consider before offering solutions.

8. Ask questions to clarify.

9. Keep an open mind.

10. Summarise or sum up what you heard, ‘so the main problem was’ or ‘if I understand properly you feel…’to let them know you understand exactly.

Remember to pay attention to their tone of voice and observe their body language, which can give you insights or hidden messages which they may not be able to voice.

If you agree on any particular course of action or efforts to address the issue, be sure and follow through.  Listening needs to be followed up with evidence of action, even if it’s only arranging follow-up conversations.  If you fail to follow-through, your child may get the impression that what they have confided just goes in one ear and out the other.

For any victim of bullying, building and maintaining trust is so important and this can’t happen unless you stick to your word.

I hope you find this helpful.  Please feel free to share any experience you have had which would have benefitted from active and effective listening.

Alternatively please share some effective approaches you have used. I would love to learn what worked for you.

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

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