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Bullying & Beyond…”I was only messing…”

 

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

 

When our son was being bullied and he told the bullies to ‘stop’ they wouldn’t stop.  When we sought help in school we were told “Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.”  When he stood up for himself and physically fought back, it stopped some of the bullies.  Sometimes when one bully started a bout of verbal bullying others would join in and John would be out-numbered and unable to put an end to the unwanted taunting and teasing.

That sadly was the unpredictable and repeated reality for our son.

Some days school was what it was meant to be, a happy educational and social environment.  He came home to us full of chat, in great form and ready to engage with after school sports or other hobbies.

But other days the school torment returned…

Slowly we noticed him retreat into himself and take refuge in his room.  He started to delay getting ready for school and for his hobbies.  We couldn’t understand what was happening to him.  He couldn’t sleep and soon developed insomnia.  We took him to his GP.  Many rows centered around him always being late. He began to drop away from his hobbies and miss more time from school.  We felt all our efforts to communicate in a positive and respectful manner were met instead with fits of temper.  Now we know that he was unable to voice the painful abuse he was enduring, his behaviour was his only way of showing us his distress.

Bullies are cunning.  Part of their power lies in the unpredictability of their attack and in their ability to silence and keep their victim in fear.

His tormentors knew that over time, with sustained and unpredictable abuse they could break him.

“I was only messing”,

“I was only having a laugh”,

These are just two excuses that children offer when they are caught bullying another child and challenged for their behaviour.

As parents or teachers it is important to discuss with all children what bullying is and what bullying isn’t.  It is important to encourage children to talk about bullying, whether it is bullying they are experiencing, bullying they have witnessed or bullying they are perpetrating.

When boys are engaged in horseplay; which is a common way for adolescent boys to behave, the physicality is okay once all involved are willing participants.  But if one child is being targeted by another child or by a group of children and being verbally or physically mistreated then this behaviour is unwarranted and needs to be addressed.  Children buy into group behaviour and follow the lead of other more assertive children, often for fear of being a target themselves, if they don’t follow the bully’s lead.

As parents and teachers we can’t assume that all children understand when ‘messing,’ or ‘having a laugh,’ over-steps its boundary and is no longer just a bit of giddy fun.

Whether at home or in school, children need to be educated about bullying and made aware that when a child objects to any unwanted, continuous and upsetting behaviour, if it does not stop, then it is deliberate and willful bullying!  If bullying is left uncontested it can and will undermine the victim’s physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.  If you would like to read about some of the consequences of bullying, we have shared our experiences in Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, part one.

Have you ever discussed bullying with your child?  Have you ever watched your child retreat into themselves as a result of bullying?  Is “I was only messing” ever a good enough excuse?

Le gra,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Blossom

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

via Daily Prompt: Blossom

 

‘NYCTINASTY’…that’s what it’s called when a flower closes in on itself at night to protect itself from a night-time chill or a nectar thief such as bats.

 

But when you watch your own child close in on themselves the ‘NYCTI’ vanishes from your mind and all that remains are the questions, those ‘NASTY’ nagging, unanswered questions!

 

You can see your child’s pain and of course being a parent, you can feel their pain but the worst pain is the helplessness you feel being unable to rightify their pain.

 

There are, you begin to realise, so many things outside your control but over time I’ve learnt that there is so much you CAN do…

 

You can regularly let your child know that you see that IT’S NOT EASY for them at the moment.

 

You can also voice, with confidence, even if you don’t feel confident, that you ARE THERE FOR THEM and that you have their back.

 

You can also be adult enough to realise that the temper tantrums and door slammings are their ONLY way of voicing what they are otherwise unable to verbalise.

 

Even when their words sting and hurt you to the core you can hold your tongue, which surprisingly is the strongest muscle in our body yet is possibly the weakest when we feel under attack!

 

The closing-in, the isolating self-protection you see in your child, unlike the flower’s nyctinasty, is not something that reverses itself overnight like the flower that reopen to the first rays of morning warmth.

 

Your child’s process of re-opening to the world, may take much longer… But be patient and ‘JUST LOVE’ your child and in time they will re-open to the world around them, and you will see how amazing it is when they BLOSSOM!

Le grà,

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

 

 

 

Buried Pain…on Monday’s Memory Lane

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Thank you for joining me for a post from the past on Monday’s memory Lane.
Yesterday after work, the traffic was lighter than usual as I headed towards home. I rounded the corner after the roundabout to find the set of traffic lights on red. This is unusual as you see, I have a very pro-active driving Angel, who always, well, 90 per cent of always, has any traffic lights on green for me!  She’s also top class at securing parking spaces for me whilst I have to laugh at how difficult it is for my husband to find a parking space, but then again he doesn’t believe in parking angels! 
I’ve had a conversation about this particular set of traffic lights with one of my colleagues (weird I know, this probably says a lot about me as a person!), and he was adamant that he is alway met with a red light, but then he admitted that he has an expectation, as he rounds that corner that the traffic lights will be on red!  So another non-believer of driving angels and I wonder if that tell us anything about the power of expectation also!
Anyway, today was different for me.  I was faced with a red light for a change and I slowed to a halt with two cars stopped in front of me. The lights turned green, the first car drove off but no budge from the second car. I sat there and patiently waited for what in honesty was probably only a few seconds but felt like an eternity!
Suddenly a set of eyes appeared in that car’s rear view mirror and a very definite wave of thanks accompanied it. The driver, a lady, had finally come back from her daydream and realised the lights were green and began to drive off.
It’s funny what self-monologue tells us but that look in her rear view mirror and accompanying wave had me convinced of her genuine embarrassment and upset for not obeying the rules of the road and also for keeping me waiting.
As we drove out of town she was right in front of me. We passed shopping centres, garages and the park and suddenly at the last minute she indicated left, jamed on her breaks and drove into the graveyard. Luckily I was not in a daydream or I would certainly have rearended her.
At that moment I was convinced that she has recently buried her dearest relative and was struggling to cope with daily life, so much so, that her concentration and driving was affected.
I felt thankful that, unlike so many people, caught up in the rush of life, I hadn’t let road rage and the pressures of life cause me to blare the car horn at her when she kept me waiting at the traffic lights. Instead I wondered what unseen, buried pain she carried and was glad I had shown just a little patience.
Le grà,
Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond… 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

 

Flashback Friday… ‘Sin Bin’

Last night I caught myself…not in the nick of time, but certainly in time to reduced my time in the ‘Sin Bin!’  You might wonder whether I am a rugby player but I can confirm that is certainly not the case!

When I say ‘Sin Bin‘ I am referring to being caught up in an upsetting incident or any emotional state where suffering is happening.

Here’s an outline…Last night I made an assumption that ‘somebody’ was going to do something for me to support me.  I expected them to be there for me.

So I was shocked when I didn’t get the support I expected. I got a ‘No’.  And oh boy, my child-self jumped at the chance to act up!  I went silent and I sulked. I gave out a little too. I opted for an early night in bed; to run away from the problem…but as I was preparing for bed thankfully I realised,…I became aware…that I had made an assumption of support. I hadn’t asked in plain English for what I needed.  The fractured communication meant that ‘someone’ was not fully aware of what I needed.  As a result they had made alternative plans.  I realised, that just as I had a right to ask and expect…they had an equal right to say ‘No’ and expect a mature acceptance.

Thankfully by realising; by becoming aware, I got myself out of the ‘Sin Bin‘ after a short period of time. I saved myself a lot of emotional upset and physical pain.  I remember back to a previous post where it took a long time suffering before logic returned. If you wish, read about that learning journey here Wise or otherwise?

I am so grateful that I have grown and learned from that experience. I am grateful to constantly be developing my awareness. I am grateful to be reminded of the importance of clear communication.

Realising that although I am there a lot for ‘someone,’ doesn’t mean they have to be there for me and if I only give of myself expecting a return then that’s not true, unselfish giving.  That is conditional giving…giving on condition of a return!

I hope you found my reflection helpful. I would love to hear your comments or any experience where you grew in awareness.

Much love,

Marie xx

Daily Prompt: Assumption Consumption!

via Daily Prompt: Assumption

It’s very easy to suffer from Assumption Consumption; a deadly illness that consumes and eats away a logical mind.  It’s a lethal weapon in the wrong hands! We make thousands of judgements daily, not all of them are correct.

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What is it? Your guess is as good as mine!! But be careful not to jump to assumptions!

So how can we avoid jumping to conclusions, making judgements and developing Assumption Consumption?

We can start by pausing before we leap into judgement mode.

We can step back and count to ten.

We can ask ourselves could there be an alternative explanation?

Then, with daily practice we can avoid falling into an assumption trap!

Thankfully with time and a little rational thinking we can become aware of our Assumption Consumption and we often find the very opposite of our assumption was the case!

Can you recall an assumption that proved to be wrong?  What might have helped you avoid making that assumption?  How can you avoid making assumptions in the future? Please share what worked for you. I really enjoy your comments, thanks for calling in to visit!

Much love,

Marie xx

 

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