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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

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… 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

 

 

 

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

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Suspicious of bullying?

via Daily Prompt: Suspicious

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If you notice your child avoiding situations,

If you notice your child withdrawing into themselves,

If your child has lost their joviality and are becoming anxious and depressed,

If your child is having emotional outbursts,

If you know your child wants to achieve goals but appears paralysed,

If your child shows perfectionist traits and is clearly disappointed by not living up to the high standards they set themselves, then…

You have every right to be… suspicious of bullying!

We’ve been there and our suspicions were correct…

But don’t despair…Bullying & Beyond…1.Take Heart!

Does this resonate with you? Has your child experienced bullying? Please share your thoughts with me?

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

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Painting the pain, part three.

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

 

As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t paint the pain of bullying experienced by our son because the canvas is blank and will remain blank as our son, kept almost all of the painful details to himself.

What I can paint is what we as parents noticed at home, which included, his frustration shown through nasty comments and angry outbursts. His loss of interest in his hobbies. His withdrawal into himself. His sleep pattern changed dramatically, unable to get to sleep resulting in him sleeping longer into the morning and soon he developed insomnia.   He was awake at night and asleep during the day.   We slowly noticed a real change in his pleasant and warm personality.    All these changes led to self-isolation and school refusal.

We stood by helplessly, watching our warm, outgoing, resilient child slowly disengage from all aspects of his normal functioning life.

This did not happen over-night. Being bullied was something that chipped away at his resilience and eventually over years, wore him down.

Every child, no matter their age, sex, nationality, colour or faith is entitled to attend school, to feel happy and included. They deserve to achieve, to the best of their ability, without the fear of bullying and its devastating effects.

The pain of his upset is still visceral as I recall and share these memories.  It hurts because I realise, yet again, that the sheer frustration and powerlessness we felt came from feeling unheard in a broken system.  This feeling of isolation compounded the impact bullying was having on our family.

Thankfully we have, as a family and individually, empowered ourselves to move forward whilst not diminishing the pain of the past. But instead wanting to put our learning to the service of others.  You might like to read our son’s attitude, Bullying…”I am grateful for it all”…

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  Did it wear down your child’s resilience? Did it render you silent and make you feel powerless?

I would love to hear your experience so that together we can let other families know that they are not alone.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Feeling Powerless in the Now…

I’m a big advocate of Positive Psychology, believing in the power of positive thinking and the power of Now.  Kathleen Kerswig LUT – We Are The Reminder’s post is very relevant to my approach and so it got me thinking… check it out here…

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72941598/posts/1849688718

The only thing was my positivity was failing me at that present moment!  I just couldn’t buy into it…

You see, at that moment I did not feel the joy that comes with ‘being’ in the present moment. I couldn’t feel the Power of being in the ‘Now’. I was aware that the present wasn’t the present as I wanted it to be…

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I wanted to be full of energy and travel to the seaside. I wanted a family outing, time with my husband and two young adult children, outdoors for our first sunny ‘summer’ day trip after a particularly long winter. I wanted to walk the beach and share a picnic.

But I had to face the fact that I felt powerless to my cf/fibro. I was drained and I hated to admit that as much as I wanted this outing, my body wasn’t willing and I knew I would feel better staying home. I also knew by staying home I wouldn’t suffer the consequences for the next few days of overdoing it.  I felt powerless to the demands of my body so I reluctantly stayed home…

I rested and then I took a short walk. I read some blogs I follow and posted some positive comments, hoping to lift other peoples’ spirits. But I was sad; I wanted to enjoy some family time. I was lonely; knowing I can’t get those moments back especially with my youngest child fast approaching his 20’s.  And I did shed a few bitter tears…But something strange happened and for that I am filled with gratitude!  Strangely by being aware of and accepting my emotions I gained a new perspective…

I learned that I am not powerless, no, not by a long shot!  I learned that my power has just shifted or changed…just as every stage of life brings change.

I learned that I still have power.  I realised that it’s ok to not fully accept my cf/fibro somedays but I am not powerless… I learned to listen to my body. I realised that I had the ability to readjust my plans in a way that didn’t adversely affect others. I may not have wanted the present moment as it was but I learned to adjust it in a way that showed me; my body, the respect that I deserve.  I listened to my body, my emotions and accepted the imperfect as good enough and that’s a serene place to be!  Serenity Sunday…

I hope that you realise how powerful you are today and that you use your power to your best benefit! I look forward to your comments and ask you to please share your experiences of feeling powerless and how you handle them.

Much love,

Marie xx

 

Cavity…an empty space within a solid object.

via Daily Prompt: Cavity

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I went to my monthly writing/poetry, open mic club last Friday night. There were about twenty men and women gathered to share their work, be it short stories or poems or if they wished they could read the work of an author of their choice.

We always have time for a chat before the event and again at the tea break. Everybody seemed upbeat and chirpy despite January being a dull cold month and dismal after the efforts of Christmas.

I was about fifth to read my two short, up-beat memories. But the majority of the stories could have been themed under depression, regrets, greiving for loved ones or upsetting childhoods.

The majority of participants, although they looked solid and presented a brave front, hid their gaping, aching cavity very well until it was their turn to share their stories…when their pain and tears caused rivulets of sorrow in my heart.

So, on Friday night last, I realised how important it is to think long and hard before you think the person next to you has it easy…for in this case they grieved the passing of a mother over twelve months ago, a sister over Christmas, a husband recently lost to suicide, the death of a loyal and faithful dog and a lost childhood…

So, consider the possibilities and above all… be patient and kind!

Much love,

Marie xx

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