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;
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
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 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?
Welcome to Monday’s memory lane where I share an old post…
In this post I considered the word “Measure”…
A common noun, a thing, a word with a lot of meanings such as the size or quantity of something. It can also mean a unit of size or quantity, such as the size of our home or the quantity or amount of friends we are blessed with. Measure can also mean extent, the range over which something extends; its area, such as the ground our home covers or the extent to which we can depend on our friends or them on us. Measure can also mean action taken, law or even be applied to poetry as poeticalrhythm.
So if one word can have so many meanings and mean so many different things, surely, that’s all the more reason to be measured in the words we use and the things we say.
How often do we stop and measure what we are about to say before we rush headlong into saying it without thought of the consequences.
Has life always been measured or depending on your social standing, not measured at all? Are we either highly valued or of no value?
Do we measure ourselves only by comparing ourselves to others? I envy your attitude, your ability to remain positive in the face of adversity. What a measured put-down and denial of our own measure.
Just check out social media if you are unsure of how you measure yourself. To what extent is our success, popularity and acceptance measured by the number of likes, shares, followers and retweets achieved?
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.
I realised the reason why I have to follow my heart and try to begin a conversation about bullying. I realised the reason I can’t stand back is because…
“The song I came to sing is left unsung. I spent my life stringing and unstringing my instrument.” Rabindranath Tagore.
And today I also found myself learning that I can’t let embarrassment of my wounds hold me back because…
“Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.” Professor and theologian Henri Nouwen.
Are you holding back from you song? Will you trust enough to sing your song? Will you hide your wounds or use them in the service of others? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Trigger Warning – Bullying, upsetting read, almost 1.3k word count and only a synopsis.
I would really appreciate if you would consider sharing this…
If I could paint a picture of the pain of bullying I would because a picture can say much more than any amount of words. But I hope my words can help you instead, paint your own picture of young lives tainted, damaged and almost destroyed by bullying.
Begin by taking a nice relaxing breath and feel the peace and contentment of a happy life…Just breath.
Now add two children to the picture and see the eldest overcome some challenges, such as being shy and changing school after one year. See the youngest child beginning life weighing 2lb 9oz and being the best Christmas present we brought home that Christmas, three months after he was born. Now laugh and imagine the relief of a diagnosis of full health at the age of one. No heart murmur. No lung deficiency. No eye sight problems. See him run into school without a backward glance, loving all the new activity and company.
Take another relaxing breath and practice gratitude for two happy, healthy children aged five and seven. Follow your heart, values and beliefs and raise them to be loving and kind; to watch out for the welfare of others and to go out of your way to be inclusive and help others feel they belong.
Now picture a knot in your stomach as you notice things begin to change… upset going to school, lunch not eaten. Hear her tell stories of constant name calling, jibing and mocking. Feel her pain as they make fun of her prominent teeth and her love of galloping around the playground instead of running because of her infatuation with horses. Approach the teacher. Confront a young boy’s carer for his bullying of her on the school bus.
Notice the tears, bitter tears of being excluded by one or two girls. Soon more of her circle follow their lead and she’s left feeling frustrated and lonely. Watch as school anxiety develops, tears and tummy aches rack her body and people comment how thin she is. See her push her food around her plate…and then around some more. Observe family trips to cafes or restaurants become a nightmare.
Soon separation anxiety develops and you carry her into school and peel her off you as you try to reassure her that today will be better; the children will be lovely and friendly. Add in lots of GP visits, referrals to counsellors, psychotherapy and meetings with teachers. Watch homework suffering and educational milestones not being achieved. Listen as you are advised to have an educational assessment done but in the same breath advised that you’ll have to arrange it privately and pay about 400 euro as the government only fund two per year and more disadvantaged children need it. See some school supports come onboard, extra learning support, confidence building and be advised a follow-up 400 euro report is needed before she enters secondary school, needed they say to access extra support there. Watch her relatively happy during 1st year with no supports offered or thankfully needed.
Feel the kick in your gut as a happy 1st year turns into an upset 2nd year and more of the same, more tears, more anxiety, more loneliness and exclusion. Send her to pottery classes and see her flourish and then watch as even in the privacy of her own home she is a victim, as we laugh and enjoy the company of relatives over Christmas, she is hounded. Witness her stress as two girls send texts with nasty, abusive messages. Contact the Gardaì and find there’s not much you can do, change her phone sim.
Advise the school in case she should be targeted by these girls in person. Hear that the two girls are reprimanded. Listen in shock when you’re summoned to the school to collect your emotionally upset child having been physically attacked, dragged to the floor by her hair and kicked and punched by one of the girls. See the nasty black and blue bruise leave its mark on her skin, knowing full well the ongoing abuse is leaving its nasty tentacles entwined even deeper within. Read nasty lies posted about her on a social media site to slander and ridicule. Approach the parents. Be kind, ask for respect, say you won’t involve the law.
In the meantime watch her at home, refusing school for weeks and support her decision to change school.
Breath another reaxing breath as she flourishes, feeling accepted, part of the group. See her take on new experiences and even a school adventure trip for five days away from home.
Gag and dry-retch, choke and sufficate, imagining how she felt when they poured water down her throat while she slept; minding her own business, doing no harm to anyone! See her retreat into herself, go to school and get phone calls to bring her home sick, refuse school. More GP visits, psychological appointments and point blank school refusal. Mountains of paperwork to obtain home school hours and achieve her Leaving Certificate despite all the torment and abuse.
Years later get messages from the bully who physically asaulted her, telling of her regret, her distress, her depression, anxiety and attempted suicide because of what she did. Feel a horrific and tangible need to rip her apart but instead hear our amazing daughter say how she has forgiven her…breath deeply and learn a lesson in compassion and tell the girl it’s ok, don’t worry, access supports, do well in college.
And later still witness the distress, the panic attacks, the anxiety, the new courses; some completed some not. See her clothes become two sizes too big as the anxiety grips her throat and messes with her appetite. See her busy herself baking and sculpting, creating things of beauty and remind yourself that you don’t care about an unfinished course or a career or thoughtless people who don’t ask how she is doing but instead ask “what’s she doing with herself” and proceed to recount how their daughter, her peers, achieved their third level qualifications. See her reach out and be told it’s five weeks to see a new counsellor – pathetic Irish healthcare. Marvel as she learns Dutch with her phone app. Admire how she lobbies every politician for a service dog, unheard of in Ireland but which might just enable her complete her course by helping her ward off panic attacks on the train. Encourage her as she appeals to the welfare system for a companion pass so somebody could travel with her on the train. Practice and encourage patience as she waits patiently for a human being to pass her application. But most of all we just love her and admire her amazing resilience because any of those bullies would have crumbled under the strain years ago and that’s the politest sentence I can pen about them.
Oh and by the way, that’s just what was going on for our daughter. We have a son who was bullied too… but he hid it for a long time, to save us the pain. I’ll try to paint that picture in part two.
If you think this could help anyone who was or is a victim know that they are not alone, please feel free to share. If you or anyone you know was a bully or you have been told by your school that your child is a bully, please consider the pain you or they have or are causing. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!