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Bullying & Beyond…24. Beware the word ‘Rare’?

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

 

“It is rare that children with good confidence and self esteem will be the victim of bullying”…so a recent article stated,

Rare…means seldom occurring.

I say beware the word ‘rare‘ which can lull you into a false sense of security…

Rare still happens to someone!

Have you ever stopped to consider how rare is rare?

Consider this… If your children were functioning to the peak of their individual ability at home, in school, and in community life until they were bullied, over an extended period of time, would that tip them into the ‘rare‘ category?

Or would reporting the bullying but being told ‘stand up for yourself,’ ‘build a wall and put it behind you’ or “he needs to be more resilient” be the tipping point into that “rare” category?

Having good confidence and self esteem might make you more effective at dealing with bullying, but if bullying is experienced on an on-going basis, and if it is left unsupported over a long period, it is the DURATION of bullying that, in my experience, overwhelms the victim’s confidence and self esteem and determines the impact of bullying, both short and long term.

The only solution to bullying, is rapid and easy access to support and that support must be informed, professional and cohesive. Anything less is unacceptable! You might find some information & support in this post…Bullying & Beyond…20 Knowledge is Power!

What do you think? Please join in this conversation and help others find the support they need, now, and not when it is too late.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…24. Mindful Heart!

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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…23.Who cares?
I shared some of my guesses as to why victims of bullying hide how much they care.

Mich at Michnavs joined the conversation and her insightful comment got me thinking, so I’m breaking with my tradition of waiting to post at the weekend.

This is what Mich said… “Very well said Marie. I am fortunate to have been a teacher and a mother as well..having said that, I got to witness different behaviors and coping mechanisms of kids from different ages…and it’s not easy to spot a problematic or bullied kid…because sometimes they are really good at keeping it cool…but nevertheless I have kept a very mindful heart..”

This was my reply to Mich..

Thank you Mich, I appreciate your encouraging feedback. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts and experience. Bullies are very cunning, manipulative and powerful in their control over their victims, so you are correct in saying it’s not easy to spot a bullied child. Victims have many reasons, (as we’ve seen in my previous post), to become masters of disguise, making it very difficult for teachers of large classes and with ever increasing workloads, to detect a child who is struggling with bullying.

I really like your term a “mindful heart,” it is a good marriage of heart & mind and I envisage it being very Rogerian, (Carl Rogers), encompasing UPR (unconditional positive regard), empathy (being able to step into the victim’s shoes) and congruence (being your true, genuine & real self), all positive, powerful and necessary attributes for teachers, and the core conditions, enabling teachers create effective and theraputic relationships in their classrooms.

These core conditions are the foundation of every successful relationship be it in school, at home or in society.

https://trueselfcounseling.com/2016/02/20/3-core-conditions-for-therapeutic-change/

As a parent, teacher or victim of bullying, what do you think?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…23.Who cares?

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

 

When you are the victim of bullying, you want people to care about you. You want them to understand how you feel but you behave in the exact opposite way. You pretend you don’t care to protect yourself. You put up a front, isolate yourself and sink further into despair. You believe teachers don’t care and you believe parents don’t care.

What gets in the way of caring? As a mother who has witnessed the impact of bullying on children, here are my guesses why children change their behaviour…

1. Fear that teachers/parents will utter one more disparaging remark about them in front of the other students/siblings.

2. Feeling stupid because they don’t want to be feeling like this but they can’t help it.

3. Feeling frustrated because they feel silenced by bullying.

3. Shame because no matter how much effort they’ve put in, they can’t break the cycle of bullying by themselves.

5. Worry that their resilience is at breaking point and being terrified of what will happen to them if they can’t cope.

6. Feeling worthless because they can see that other students/siblings around them are getting better marks or making progress.

7. Guilt that they are upsetting their teachers/parents and feeling that they are a burden.

Dear Teacher/Parent, please care!  Please look beyond the puzzling behaviour that you, as a teacher or as a parent are seeing and realise that it is an ingenious front.  Please look at the pain this child is in and see what “I don’t care that you don’t care” looks like. Please empower yourself to care by seeking advice, which will help you realise what really matters here, their mental health.

Have you/your child had similar feelings because of bullying?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

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…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…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… 16. Social Media, a Silent killer!…

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

 

I’m always grateful when readers share their experiences with me, it starts a conversation on bullying and prompts further reflection.

I’d like to share two such responses to my post, Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the pain, part three.

Paula at Paula Light https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/74951

bravely said “I was bullied for being fat and nerdy and bad at sports. Thank God I could get away from the kids outside of school and escape into books and tv shows. I also found my own hobbies, such as needlepoint. But today, with social media, there’s no escape. That’s the worst ~ I can’t imagine the horror of never escaping the peer group.

Parikhit Dutta at Weeping Pines https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/56154764

responded with empathy saying…
“I’m so glad for you Paula. It can be so frustrating to live the pains of bullying always, never being able to escape. And isn’t it a silent killer”.

My thanks to both Paula and Parikhit for prompting this post.

I can, from experience, confirm that bullying via social media is as noxious as poison gas, it is a silent killer!  

One Christmas while we were enjoying a family gathering our daughter was suffering in silence in the midst of us, as bullies targeted her with vile and upsetting messages on social media.   We were oblivious to this happening until our daughter could no longer contain her distress and broke down telling us.  Even after the girls in question were reprimanded and made close their social media accounts, the bullying continued because they were able to create new accounts using fake identification.

Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

Social media enables bullies to infiltrate the victim’s home; often the only safe space victims have. Online bullying is omnipresent, affecting children, adults and even Politicians, as we’ve seen during the United Kingdom’s Brexit attempts.

When bullying is frequent and continues over a protracted period it can cripple the victim leaving them distressed and confused. The implications can be life long, leaving them with low confidence and self-esteem, and can cause them intense dislike of themselves for being too fat, too thin, nerdy, shy or a miriad of other perfectly normal human characteristics just because a bully decided these traits were “unacceptable”.

Other sign of distress can include mood swings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, eating disorders, OCD, and finally but not exhaustively, self-harm until another innocent, tormented life could be lost to bullying.

Having witnessed the effect of online bullying I’d like to highlight to parents the distress children feel at, the horror of never escaping from this silent killer.”  I’d also like to stress the lasting impact of bullying and encourage parents, adults & society to be vigilant.

Have you or your children been bullied? Did you/they experience “the horror of never escaping the peer group” because of the pervasiveness of social media? Did you watch this silent killer in action?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…1.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… 15. Sympathy?

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

When dealing with bullying, empathy is key as shared in Bullying & Beyond… 11. Resilience.

Another hurdle we faced when trying to search out help for our son was the problem of sympathy.  We were told by a responsible adult, that our son would be dealt with in a more “sympathetic” way.

Children, just like our son, who are being bullied, need to know that others care about them and are sorry about what they are going through.

Some children, particularly boys and teenagers might be embarrassed by being in the spot-light receiving sympathy.  They may not want others feeling sorry for them.

Sympathy while supportive can reinforce a child’s belief that there is something wrong with them and can make a child worry that they are at fault.  It may take the locus of blame off the bully, where it rightly lies. Too much sympathy can compound feeling of helplessness and of being powerless.

I believe that every child, be they a bully or bullied… need sympathy backed up by action.

My trust and respect was weakened when I asked one adult in a position of responsibility, if they had ever seen a case like our son’s, as he had been struggling with school not just in the short term but over the majority of his time in secondary school and I was amazed to receive a resounding “No.” This answer exemplified the fractured and broken school system that enabled bullying to flourish.

I believe the solution lies in education for all involved, including regular professional development opportunities to raise awareness of the short and long-term effects of bullying.

Did you or your child receive sympathy, how did it make you feel? Were you able to access competent, professional support when needed?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

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