Quote No.11 from Encourage Yourself Encourage Others by Anne Devine.
This quote is particularly relevant now more than ever. Don’t be afraid to “Honour and remember those you love in your way.”
We are a country with a long-standing tradition of showing our respects in remembering our deceased relatives, neighbours and friends. However, Covid19 restrictions have caused funeral traditions and services here in Ireland to change.
Now only a limited number of family members can attend a funeral wake and mass now. That could limit a funeral size to ten or twenty family members only.
Relations, friends and neighbours have started forming a socially distanced line along the road side leading to the church or graveyard instead. These changes are difficult for all concerned. Respect how others cope with these changes. Allow other to honour and remember those they love in their way.
On Friday our much loved Polish Lowland Sheep dog Juke, quietly passed away. I am as upset as if I lost a close relative. He was a wonderful watch dog and a very important part of our family.
I want to share Emma’s tribute to Juke from her Instagram account @Dorismakesmyday
“I dont know how I can sum up 14 years in a couple of paragraphs, but here goes.
I remember the first day you came home, sitting by my mothers legs, not even reaching her knee. I remember all the hours we spent, you sitting on the picnic table while I brushed your coat, remarkably calm only for those few moments.
I remember your hatred for the vet, and how he put a name to that face you were famous for, the ‘fuck off face.’ His amazement at how much sedative it took to finally put you under before your neuter. (Enough to sedate a German Shepard & a Jack Russel)
Your love for car journeys, how you sat by my side looking out the window on all our camping adventures and how you would wake us up at the crack of dawn to let us know someone had passed our window, much to our frustration.
How you made Marley, of Marley and Me, look like the worlds best behaved dog by destroying our lawnmower (you ate the basket), our deep freezer (you ate the power cord), our camper van (by eating the spark plug), our couch and our car (by destroying the wheel arch).
But mostly I will remember you as the fiercely independent and fearless dog you were. How affection wasn’t your thing but yet when I was sad or anxious you always knew. Despite your total dislike for cuddles, you would come and sit by me and let me wrap my arms around you and cry until you decided I was feeling better and then you would go back to being the aloof boy that you were.
Thank you for being my therapist, my entertainment, my best friend and my inspiration. Thank you for being brave till the very end. 14 years wasn’t long enough but they were the best 14 years I could have asked for. I will miss your little sausage tail and your happy little trot. I love you, I miss you.”
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?
Children’s mental, emotional and psychological health damaged not only in the short-term but often into the long-term.
Lives are lost, too often, to bullying. Children unable to cope with the torture inflicted on them by bullies sadly see no way out, other than to take their lives.
I might be writing this from Ireland and this story may refer to Yarraka Bayles, a boy on the other side of the world but the location is irrelevant… bullying is bullying and this is the reality for another child and another family. It is a horrific, upsetting reality.
This bullying is focused on dwarfism. But if it wasn’t about dwarfism it would be about anything else the bully decided they didn’t like about their victim such as their weight or even their accent. Take a few moments to educate yourself and then take a few moments to educate your children… because this is a reality that is totally avoidable and it is a reality no child or parents deserve!
I have been writing on the topic of bullying since late last year and I greatly appreciate all the support, encouragement and insightful feedback and comments which I have received to my Bullying & Beyond posts!
In order to access the most up to date information available on bullying and gain some insights and understanding of the Government’s education policy regarding the prevention of bullying, I decided to join a blended learning programme being offered by NABC; the National Anti Bullying Association of Ireland, entitled Bullying Prevention & Intervention Online Course for Teachers. It is a ten week online programme which also includes two face to face sessions in DCU, Dublin City University, St Patrick’s, Drumcondra, in Dublin.
And so, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts with me and in doing so, help me inform my answer to the first question we have been posed…
“What do you think are the greatest challenges teachers face when dealing with bullying behaviours?”
I look forward to your thought provoking responses!
When your child is being bullied at school, it is important to reach out and find professional support. There is a lot of qualified support out there but it is very important to find a counsellor that you and/or your child can relate to. The trust you build with your counsellor is vital to the healing process.
Shame is an important aspect of bullying and an aspect I’d like to raise awareness of. Teachers carry a heavy task, large class sizes and a wide variety of needs to be met but I think it’s important, for parents and teachers, to be very aware that children remember shaming remarks and wear them like a label, long after the event. The emotional growth of children is stunted if they are shamed in front of their siblings or peers.
This experienced and knowledgeable gentleman played an important part in providing insights that helped us heal our family. Of course when you gain insights from counselling, you can choose to learn from them and use them to heal your family or if you so wish, not learn from them or use them. At the end of the day, the path you choose is up to you…
Mindfully Marie xx
Shaming children leaves a lasting impact and gives them core shame which they bring into adult life
Shaming remarks made to children under twelve have a more drastic and permanent impact that can become core because, like parents, teachers spend a lot of time with them, and the frequency of these remarks is a key element in laying the crop of shame. A combination of parental and teaching shaming is particularly damaging and reinforces the sense of not being good enough in the child. We can choose not to shame any child. Education is not just about intellectual or cognitive development, it must include emotional nourishment as well, which is facilitated by praise and allowing children the space to interact with each other. So, I will leave this part of the blog with a simple poem by an unknown poet on the practical difference between shame and praise –
“I’ve got 2 A’s” the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee
His father very bluntly asked
“Why did you not get three?”
“I’ve mowed the grass” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away”.
His father asked him with a shrug,
“Did you clean off the clay?
“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said
“And did you sweep the floor?”
The children in the house next door
Seemed happy and content.
The same things happened over there,
But this is how it went:
“I’ve got 2 A’s the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said
“That’s great! I’m glad you live with me.”
“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away,”
His father answered with much joy,
“You’ve made my happy day”
“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
“Each day I love you more.”
Children need encouragement
For tasks they’re asked to do
If they’re to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.
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.
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…
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.
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.