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Bullying & Beyond… Acquiesce.

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

 

I’m angry, and it’s not often I’m angry!  I’m also amazed…amazed at how a word can evoke such angry emotion!

This word ‘Acquiesce,’ gives me such an uneasy feeling because for too long, despite our best efforts we were silenced in a system that was disjointed and had no cohesive plan in place.

Slowly, I knocked on every door.   I struggled to be heard. I contacted every service.  Finally, I discovered the flimsy support that was available.  I wasn’t told this support existed.  I uncovered it, step by painful step.  I came to realise that every school in Ireland has access to a School Psychologist through NEPS.

Our school was one of those schools.

Here’s a small excerpt of what to expect… ”

What do you do if you think your child may need to be seen by a NEPS Psychologist?

  • You need to begin by discussing your child’s needs with the class teacher and/or school principal. Not every child needs to meet the psychologist in person. Each school makes referrals to their NEPS psychologist who helps the school to plan the work”

You can find out more here…

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/FAQs.html

I rang a contact number, I spoke to the School Psychologist.  I told her our son wanted to achieve his Leaving Certificate.  I told her our son was being denied this opportunity because of the impact of bullying on his health.  I reminded her that every child is entitled to an education.

Soon I got a phone call from that Psychologist, a meeting had been arranged with the school to discuss our son’s education.

It did not solve the issue.  The impact of bullying on a child’s well-being and mental health does not disappear overnight but this State funded and readily available intervention went some way towards helping me realise that I was not alone, that we were not alone and that there were support services available that we had not been informed of!

 

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A screenshot from… https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/education/primary_and_post_primary_education/educational_supports/national_educational_psychological_service.html

 

And now I refuse to ‘acquiesce.’  I won’t, under any circumstances, accept, agree or allow something to happen by staying silent or by not arguing.  I won’t acquiesce until I do my bit, no matter how small that may be!

I want to ensure victims, bullies, passive bullies (those who stand by gutless, watching and let the victims suffer), teachers, principals, parents, the community, society, and every nationality have a conversation.  I want them to see the damage school bullying causes. I want to paint a picture of the pain it inflicts – a picture that leave you in no doubt of the long term effects of school bullying.  Please help me break the silence and as we do this, together, please 1.Take Heart!

Dee’s Word of the Day

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/80183056/posts/2151594850

Have you or your children been bullied or silenced? Have you stood by and watched a victim suffer at the hands of a bully?  What would you do differently now?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Highest achievers?

 

The results of Ireland’s Leaving Certificate State Exam were released on the 13th of August.

This exam is the culmination of five years of study and it holds the key to the future of many students.

For months before the exams, which are held each year in June, two things happen.

1.  Some students don’t cast the upcoming exams a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves to the point of mental and physical distress over sitting these exams.

For weeks before the results are released in August, two things happen.

1.    Some students don’t cast the upcoming  results a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves out worrying about the outcome or points they will achieve.

And that is the story of life.

The students at 1. above, takes things in their stride, they do not struggle with their emotions or become anxious.

The students at 2. above, are predisposed to an anxious nature.  They struggle to handle their emotions and cope with stress.

And that is the human story or condition.  We are all different, in how we see the world and how we cope in the world.

The Leaving Certificate acknowledges the high achievers and rightly so!  It tabulates the results and rewards students accordingly.  It is a grading system.  It however, fails to grade students on how they function and cope emotionally or psychologically.

So please consider a few important things.

1.  Look past the A4 sheet of Academic Outcomes and see that each student, teenager, boy, girl, non-gender, behind the A4 grading system is individual, unique, different and consider how they truly feel. They may not be the highest achiever in maths or biology but they might be the highest achiever in resilience or mental health management.

2.  Don’t compare them to others.  It doesn’t matter what their friends or peers got.  Don’t expect them to get the same results. Do expect them to react or cope in very different ways and be there for them, if their world falls apart.  Be calm, be capable and let them see that by supporting each other this will all work out!

3.  If you are a teacher or parent and your student, son or daughter haven’t reached the exam stage yet, then make the most of it!  Tell them, right the way through school, how unique and different they are.  Watch out for and acknowledge their high achievements, whether it is academic or simply turning in for school.  Remind them that they have numerous talents, some of which will be uncovered academically and many, many more which will only surface when they study at the college of life!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Perpetuating Social Norms…

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

 

Today I would like to share T.S’s very emotive, true story from his blog “Crazywriterof6.” As I read T.S’s distressing reality, I felt my body became anxious.  I felt his apprehension and fear.  His sense of loneliness and isolation is palpable.  He says… “Maybe some of you can relate and see that even then, you weren’t alone”. No child should be in dread every day, isolated and living with the fear of bullying!

In my last post I wrote about the difficulty I had in supporting my children, both victims of bullying, because of the pressure on victims to remain silent.  You might like to read it… Big Boys…Don’t Cry!

We now hear in T.S’s own words, his deeply ingrained and debilitating belief as to why he was bullied… “The torture continued. Many moments before this event, many after. I have written some of them out, just to get them out. All this because I was different than the “normal people”, different from what society says I should be. Different because I was overweight”.  I believe he was not different… everybody is different and everybody has the right to be respected for who and how they are.

Please enhance your understanding by reading his story…

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/48424428/posts/20

At a funeral yesterday, one sentence struck me, that sentence was “We could all be better people,” meaning we could all do more to be there for others.

Let’s break down the silence and begin a cross cultural, worldwide conversation about bullying.  Let’s educate ourselves and our children about bullying and let’s tear down out-dated social norms.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Denial

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

 

When we deny who we are and how we really feel, either physically and/or mentally we silence our authentic self.  We reject ourselves. For years I didn’t admit that I have fibro/fatigue, except to a few family members and close friends. When we reject ourselves we are bullying ourselves. We think we are not good enough, we focus on our flaws and feel a sense of shame.

Similarly, when we are bullied we are also silenced. We are judged by someone and denied the opportunity to be our real selves. We think we are not good enough and we withdraw from society or family. When we withdraw emotionally we block off our true emotions, denying ourselves the right to acknowledge and feel our emotions.

When our daughter experienced bullying, it caused her to step into survivor mode. She put up a front whilst crying inside.  She couldn’t let the bullies see her crying. She knew if she broke down crying, it would fuel even more bullying.

After finishing secondary school she moved past bullying, building back her resilience. She participated in further education and in society. She set and achieved many new goals. She met new and inclusive peers, friends and educators. All these mature, self-aware people bolstered her confidence.

However, even if it’s been years since you were bullied, a simple, present day event may unexpectedly trigger the same feelings. This was the case for our daughter.  It only took one educator to criticise Emma and her work, in front of her peers, to bring our daughter right back to survival mode.

This time it was different. Emma found the courage to address the issue to her school counsellor. She sought advice. She spoke up to that educator. She stood up for herself. She didn’t need to call upon her parents. She was self-sufficient.

But despite speaking up for herself, the trauma of being disrespected and denied the right to be herself, triggered her survival mode. All the things she could do with ease soon became overwhelming. That was almost nine months ago.

Anxiety
Low mood
Mood swings
Isolation
Fear
Agoraphobia
Panic attacks
Loneliness

All symptoms of bullying.

Then Emma’s new puppy, Doris arrived.

 


More mental health support came on-board.  But there are still ups and downs.

She felt lonely a few nights ago but she didn’t deny her feelings. She didn’t hide it. She cried for the loneliness and for the years of denying her true self.  You can learn more about isolation here Bullying & Beyond…A victim’s abject loneliness.

She cried while we were away, only showing us a glimpse when we returned. But a glimpse is enough to show us that she has turned a corner because now she is beginning to listen to and acknowledge how she feels.  She is learning to externalise how she feels instead of internalising the pain. That is a big step and an important lesson!

We can also learn a lesson from her new, trainee Psychiatric Assistance Dog, Doris.

Doris saw Emma’s upset. Doris didn’t deny her. The opposite in fact, Dorris, a little puppy, stretched herself across our daughter’s lap and kissed and licked her. Dorris accepted Emma exactly as she was.

Have you been denied the right to be yourself?  Do you deny yourself? What supports can you access to build your resilience and be your true self?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…Big Boys…

 

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

 

Whenever our daughter was bullied she would invariably come home upset and tell us or sometimes her upset would become obvious to us after a while, when we took the time to Really Listen!

It was always upsetting to see her so distressed, usually she felt very lonely having been excluded or she was confused and frustrated as to why she was constantly called names and verbally abused. But either way we could comfort her and reassure her that the bullying was not about her but always about the bullies.

However, it was not so easy to offer support when our son experienced bullying simply because you can’t help a child who is being bullied, if you don’t know about it.

For a long time, our son kept the bullying to himself and kept the upset deep inside. I think our son did not want to add to our worries by sharing the difficulty he was having.  I also think another contributing factor to his silence, was social norms. These powerful messages or ways of behaving which are normalised within a society or culture are very powerful and from a young age, boys are conditioned to be tough, be manly, don’t be a cry-baby, a tell-tale, or “a grass,” running with the story to parents or teachers and above all, they are bombarded with the message that whatever you do… don’t cry!

If you’d like an excellent insight into bullying I highly recommend you visit Weeping Pines and read Parikhit’s post which shares his experience of bullying… Boys dont Cry

https://duttaparikhit.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/boys-dont-cry/

If you suspect your son is being bullied, discuss bullying in general while having dinner together.  Point out that asking for help means being strong not weak. An analogy might be helpful such as saying: When you play hurling you don’t do everything alone – so it’s important to have a team around you in life too! It might also help to compare asking for help to being similar to training: A good sportsman needs to practice the things he is not good at or things that are new for him, so asking for help also takes practice.

Have you or your child been bullied?  If so did cultural and social norms play a part in maintaining your distress?

Let’s get a conversation going about bullying! Let’s break down the silence around bullying and change some out-dated social and culturally accepted norms.

Le grà (with love),

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Avoid the hook!

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

 

Your son or daughter arrives home from school, you know by their mood and verbal and non-verbal behaviour that they are upset. Maybe you notice they are avoiding you, they resist talking to you about their day or they might even tell you lies, pretending there is nothing wrong.

You might witness their mood deteriorating further and that might include them turning their frustration on you by shouting, blaming and generally behaving disrespectfully.

You are likely at this point to notice your temper rising and your patience being tested. This is the crucial moment…try to avoid the hook, try to resist being sucked into the argument.  Getting caught up in a two way shouting match serves no purpose!

Try to be mindful that this behaviour is your son or daughter’s way of coping with the upset they are feeling as a result of being bullied.

They are trying to cope by literally tossing some of their upset off themselves and onto you.  The very best thing that you can do is avoid becoming emotional.

Instead, calmly and patiently see if you can get to the root of the problem.  What is the underlying issue?  If the emotional outburst continues, again, calmly but firmly inform your child that you refuse to deal with them while they behave this way and set a time to talk later, when they have calmed down.  Then walk away, leave the environment.

Importantly, now is a good time to think of self-care (you might like to read my previous post Here)

Once you have practiced some self-care you will be feeling much calmer and in a better place to help your child.

It is vitally important that at the appointed time or when your child has calmed down that you follow up with them and try to ascertain the difficulty they are having.  If you do, you are showing them that their issue is of concern to you. You are also building the most important aspect in your relationship, and that is… trust.

UPDATE…

I would like to thank Jennifer @ Tea With Jennifer for this insight which she kindly gave me permission to share with you.

From a therapist’s viewpoint the behavior of the child is a form of communication, communicating that they are in crisis & can’t verbalize it correctly.

So they start acting out subconsciously, thus bringing attention to the crisis within them. Fear often manifests itself as anger in many especially males.

Blessings,

Jennifer”

There are many other great insights to be found at Jennifer’s blog…

https://teawithjennifer.blog

Have you ever experienced a situation similar to the above?  What happened during it? How did you handle it? Please share, I’d love to hear your experience.

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

 

 

 

‘I’ before ‘You’… on Monday’s Memory Lane

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“I” before “You” Credit for this amazing photo has to go to the talented Katie O’R and the subject… our wonderful son John!

Welcome to Monday’s Memory Lane where I introduce you to a post written before we came to know each other.  I hope you like this post where I share some powerful ‘I’ statements…

“I” before “You”

Bullying & Beyond…Loneliness

 

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

 

In my previous post I wrote about the importance of self-care, you might like to read it 4.Self-care x 10! When you or your children are struggling to cope with bullying it is very important to continue to practice self-care during and after the event.   Being bullied can cause strong feelings of loneliness which come from the isolation of bullying. Bullying thrives on isolation and fear. Lack of access to information, lack of support and worse still lack of knowing which way to turn or who to ask for help all serve to enhance the isolation and loneliness you feel!

The loneliness was something I found hardest to cope with as I struggled to find answers and effective support.

But there is help out there.  Don’t allow yourself to be rendered voiceless.

So I want YOU to know that I am here for YOU and YOU are not alone…reach out, share your concerns and talk about the bullying you or your child are experiencing.

What has been your experience of the loneliness of bullying?  How would you describe the loneliness of bullying?  How did you overcome it?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

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