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Petition please support…Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, Part II

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

 

It is now five months since I shared my Bullying & Beyond post, Painting the Pain, part one.  It is not an easy read and comes with a trigger warning.  You can access it here… Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

Those past five months have been very challenging for our daughter and for us as parents, as she tries bravely to cope with her anxiety.   She refuses to give in and her resilience is remarkable.  As well as accessing professional health support, she has also started a campaign, to try and set up a Psychiatric Assistance Dog charity in Ireland.  Sadly in Ireland while there are guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism, Psychiatric Assistance Dogs do not exist.

To understand the whole area of Psychiatric Assistance Dogs, Emma has been busy educating herself via books, blogs, Social Media and YouTube.  A year ago, she began her campaign, contacting political representatives and support organisations.

Emma’s campaign is driven by her goal to have legislation enabled in Ireland to give Psychiatric Assistance Dogs equal status to that available to users of guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism.  Having the company of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog to pre-empt the onset of panic attacks will enhance Emma’s life, allowing her to leave home for the first time in months feeling comfortable and safe as she goes about her daily life.

Emma has purchased a Golden Retriever puppy, which she has named Doris.

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Doris, just newly arrived…

 

It is hoped that in time and with the correct training Doris will be the first recognised Psychiatric Assistance Dog in Ireland.  Emma dreams of offering this service of trained Psychiatric Assistance Dogs to others.

To see this goal realised, Emma has also worked unceasingly to set up her website www.candocanineire.com and you can read more of her mission and goals here.

Emma has been in regular contact with the office of the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Mr. Finian McGrath and she has created a petition, which she hopes will receive lots of support and help her have Ireland enact and recognise equal status for Psychiatric Assistance Dogs.  I would be forever grateful if you would make Emma and Doris’ day by signing their petition and finding one other person to do likewise.

I hope I’ve attached the petition link correctly, for convenience, just as you’ll find it on Emma and Doris’ Instagram account…

https://linktr.ee/dorismakesmy.day

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Doris and Emma together making the best of their day

 

Emma and Doris have also started an Instagram account @dorismakesmyday where they would love you to keep them company as they both document and share their journey towards an Ireland that recognises Psychiatric Assistance Dogs and offers people like Emma who live with a mental health condition access to the love and support of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog.

And we can’t finish without recalling this trailblazer… Andy, Emma’s first dog.  Although it broke Emma’s heart (and ours) to let him go to a playfilled future, it had to be done.

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A shoutout to Andy…who still holds a special place in our hearts.

Do you struggle with mental health issues?  Do you have panic attacks?  What do you know about Psychiatric Service Dogs?  Do you know anybody who would benefit from reading this post, if so, please feel free to share.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…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?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond… No EXCUSE…Part 1

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

 

Bullying is often experienced by children who;

Are shy or meek,
Are overweight or underweight,
Are neglected or dirty,
Have a learning difficulty,
Are taller than, shorter than or different from the average,

Have low confidence or self esteem,

Are seen as the high achiever; class swat, or

Are of an alternative ethnicity or race to the majority of the class

But our son didn’t fit into any of these categories… or so I thought,

and I was curious as to why he was targeted.

I asked him why he thought he was a victim of bullying…

He reminded me of a phase he went through in primary school when he grew his hair.  For a while he was the only child with longer than average hair and then I realised this simple step, outside the norm, meant he had fallen into the “different” category…

Eventually the phase wore off and he cut his hair but it was too late…the foundations of bullying had been laid.

But during that conversation something very important struck me!  As he was explaining his experience, he also added a… “BUT” or an “EXCUSE” as to why the bullies behaved this way…

He said…
“but the bully had issues of his own”
and
“but the other boy had ADHD”
and
“but another bully had a physical impediment and could easily have been bullied himself so he sided with the bully to protect himself.”

My initial reaction was how generous our son was, willing to make excuses and forgive their wrong-doing and destructive behaviour and all these statements made me feel proud;

speaking volumes about his personal values, his humanistic, empathetic private logic and how he saw the world,

but on reflection, it also made me sad;

it spoke volumes about valuing ourselves and expecting to be respected by others.  It spoke of our son’s willingness to under-value himself.  It spoke of the need for healthy boundaries and knowing when those boundaries have been disrespected.

And while I agree that each of those bullies probably had a difficult back story, or issue of their own…

victims of bullying are innocent and do not need to make excuses for or take ownership of the nasty behaviour or acts perpetrated by bullies.  It is however, vital that victims learn the importance of self-respect.

So the bottom line is that it’s NOT OK that bullies treat you disrespectfully

And it’s NOT OK to make excuses for them.  You deserve respect!

There is no BUT, there is no EXCUSE

Have you been bullied? Do you fit into a stereotypical category? Have you made excuses for your bully? Do you still think there is an excuse?

Le grà,

Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…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

 

Bullying & Beyond…Really Listen!

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

In my first post about bullying I wrote about the importance of not losing heart, Bullying & Beyond…1.Take Heart!

In this post I’d like to focus on the importance of listening

2. REALLY LISTEN!

Children come home from school and everyday we ask them the same questions… How was your day?  What did you do? Tell me something you learned.  Did you have fun? Often it’s the case that we get the same answers.  We fall into a habit… habitual behaviour, repeating what we always do and as a result we often miss out on subtle signs of bullying.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, I can’t stress enough, how important it is to REALLY LISTEN!

When your children arrive home or you collect them from school, put down your phone. Pause from your cleaning or cooking.  Turn off the TV and listen to what your children are saying.  Also try to hear what they might not be saying.  They may not have the words to say it or they might be too frightened to talk about what is happening but their body language or a change in their behaviour might reveal a whole lot more.

Some examples could include;

Your child might become argumentative, almost trying to pick a fight with you or their siblings.

They might become withdrawn and sullen or go silent.

They might damage some of their belongings or some household items.

They might restrict their food.

They might disengage from their favourite hobbies or interests.

They might also have trouble sleeping. And as a result become chronically sleep deprived, develop insomnia which affects their body clock, sleeping during the day, unable to sleep at night. All this affects behavior, mood and ability to function.

These changes will all be out of character.

Test yourself…can you fully recall their last conversation with you?  If not, ask yourself why not?  Did you pay full attention or were you thinking of other things you needed to do? Nothing is as important as being fully present with your child and really listening.  Practice being fully present and challenge yourself to recall your last communication with your child.

I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear from you.

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  How did it impact you or your child? Did it cause a change in behaviour? Did really listening improve your situation?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

Bullying & Beyond… Yes, you were bullied too!

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

 

Did you know that every time your child is bullied, it leaves a mark, physical, emotional or psychological

And did you know that every time your child is bullied… so are you!

Every time you seek support and fail to get the support you need for your child, you and your family are being bullied again through neglect and broken, dysfunctional systems.

Don’t stand by and let that happen.  Trust your gut instinct.  If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right!

Don’t stop looking for and expecting solutions until you receive some.  If you failed to find answers in the past, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty, instead, keep in mind this quote “I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better” Maya Angelou.

Now, refocus you efforts and more determined than ever, continue your search for answers.

Have you ever felt bullied because your child was bullied?  How did it make you feel? Did you listen to your intuitive gut feeling and renew your efforts to find answers?

You may like to start your search to find some of those answers here on Create Space in my Bullying & Beyond series, here are two suggestions,

Bullying & Beyond…3.Improve your Listening Skills!

And when the challenge becomes overwhelming, remember

Bullying & Beyond…4.Self-care x 10!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…Take Heart!

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

 

I’m not a professionally qualified Counsellor or expert on bullying but I am a mother who has gained knowledge and experienced of bullying through the lives of our two children.

I have as part of my Degree in Adult Education studied the Psychology of Adult Education and Counselling in Adult Education and found both of these extremely helpful in understanding and coping with the situation we found ourselves in.

Our journey through bullying and its after effects spanned two decades (2002 to 2018) and as a result I’d like to offer my support to other parents who struggle with the impact of bullying on their children.

In these posts I’ll try to share some insights we’ve gained. My first…

1.  TAKE HEART.

If your child is suffering the effects of bullying and if it is having a negative impact on every member of your family, try to remain calm and show a capable front.  I know how upset you feel.  I know that the last thing you can comprehend is that it will all work out just fine.  But trust me… with determination to support your child, and by practicing self-care, you will reach a place of peace and progression!

I know because we were there and now we’ve reached that place of peace and progression and learned a lot as a result.  My son summed up his journey through bullying in a nice quote;  you can read about it here…Bullying…”I am grateful for it all”…

I hope you find this helpful. And I hope to write more on the subject of bullying.

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  Is bullying still an issue for you or have you reached a place of peace and progression? Please feel free to share your experiences, it could help inform other parents, provide comfort or encourage somebody else through the distress of bullying.

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Whose expectations?

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

 

Have you ever expected or wished for the easy path?  I know I have on many occasions!

 

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The Path of Life or The Easy Path at The Japanese Garden, Irish National Stud, Kildare and in life!

 

Life is easy if as a parent/teacher your children/students excel at sport, are the high achievers, are highly academic or simply, functioning!

But that’s not always reality and as a parent or teacher you’ve noticed your child/student disengage and opt out of school and fail exams. Your dreams and expectations are fading in front of your eyes.  You’re upset, disappointed maybe even embarrassed.

Your child/student ‘should’ be independent, ‘should’ be academic, ‘should’ be functioning… but they’re not!

They’ve just ruined all your well laid plans and you feel bad!  Now, spare a thought for how bad your child/student feels and that’s before you opened your mouth and added insult to injury.

So now what?

Well now is the perfect time to review YOUR expectations!

If your child/student had just been diagnosed with a major heart complaint, what expectations would you have?  I bet you’d focus on what they can still achieve.  You’d admire them for getting out of bed.  You’d be pleased they pushed through their health limitations and managed to attend school!

So please, also take mental health into consideration and revisit YOUR expectations .  The verbal and non-verbal messages you give your child/student, can be life-defeating when they struggle with mental health issues, bullying or what may even seems like an uncomplicated adolescence.

So if your child/student manages to turn back in for class…

1. Start by acknowledging that there is some issue.

2. Next acknowledge the fact that your child/student is in attendance TODAY.

3. Note the possibility they may not make the grade… but look for the bigger picture.

4. Practice unconditional, non-judgemental love and see the effort they are making, no matter how small.

5.  Acknowledge their presence.

6.  Recognise their engagement. Tell them you see that they have pushed through their health limitations to attend school and mix with their peers rather than self-isolating themselves in their bedroom!

Now you’ve realigned YOUR expectations!  Now you’re telling them they are good enough, exactly as they are!

This approach will help your child/student learn to accept themselves as good enough.  They may even let themselves feel happy!  This very powerful feeling is addictive and soon they will want more.  They will, in their own time, step into the driving seat and begin to empower themselves.

As a parent/teacher, try to understand, what is run of the mill and easy for one child/student, can be very challenging for another child/student.  Placing value on their efforts not their achievements can be a game changer.  (If you can see no effort, review your expectations again.  Maybe just breathing and staying alive is taking all their effort). Love them even more, they need it more!

Watch them as they engage with life on their terms, at the level they are able for, at this precise moment.  Now you’re encouraging them to pass the more important and real test – the test that is not the easy path but the path of life!

Have you ever had your expectations dashed?  Have you realigned your expectations and seen your child/student flourish?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond… It only takes one…

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

 

It only takes one bully to wreak havoc on a child’s life.

But likewise it only takes one mother to start a hope-filled conversation about bullying for things to change for the better!

This post was prompted by Cee’s photo prompt; the topic was 1 Item or the Number One.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 1 Item or the Number One

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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