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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…Who cares?

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

 

When you are the victim of bullying, you want people to care about you. You want them to understand how you feel but you behave in the exact opposite way. You pretend you don’t care to protect yourself. You put up a front, isolate yourself and sink further into despair. You believe teachers don’t care and you believe parents don’t care.

What gets in the way of caring? As a mother who has witnessed the impact of bullying on children, here are my guesses why children change their behaviour…

1. Fear that teachers/parents will utter one more disparaging remark about them in front of the other students/siblings.

2. Feeling stupid because they don’t want to be feeling like this but they can’t help it.

3. Feeling frustrated because they feel silenced by bullying.

3. Shame because no matter how much effort they’ve put in, they can’t break the cycle of bullying by themselves.

5. Worry that their resilience is at breaking point and being terrified of what will happen to them if they can’t cope.

6. Feeling worthless because they can see that other students/siblings around them are getting better marks or making progress.

7. Guilt that they are upsetting their teachers/parents and feeling that they are a burden.

Dear Teacher/Parent, please care!  Please look beyond the puzzling behaviour that you, as a teacher or as a parent are seeing and realise that it is an ingenious front.  Please look at the pain this child is in and see what “I don’t care that you don’t care” looks like. Please empower yourself to care by seeking advice, which will help you realise what really matters here, their mental health.

Have you/your child had similar feelings because of bullying?

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

 

Bullying & Beyond… Resilience.

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

Our son was having on-going problems with school bullying, resulting in school refusal and self-isolation, shared in Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the pain, part three.

While searching for support, I was told, by an adult in a position of responsibility that our son… “needed to be more resilient.

I found their statement to be judgemental. Being judged by an adult and found lacking is not what any child needs when they are suffering because of bullying.

It’s true, being more resilient makes life easier.

It’s also true that children can be over sensitive and they need to be able to identify the difference between occasional teasing, and the type of verbal or physical abuse which deliberately sets out to do harm.

When behaviour has the goal or intention to deliberately hurt, and happens on an regular basis, it wears down a child’s resilience.

Children who are being bullied need empathy. They need their issues to be acknowledged and they need to be affirmed by a statement that says “You are very resilient to have coped with bullying for so long.

The victim needs to be reassured that the problem lies with the bully, and not with them.

They also need to be informed of what action will be taken and a review date needs to be set. Sticking to the review date is vitally important as the victim has been rendered voiceless by constant bullying and will have lost trust in those around them.  We can gain their trust when we live up to our word and prove that we are trust worthy.

It is vitally important that a pro-active approach to bullying is fostered in every school to ensure that every victim of bullying is guaranteed the respect they deserve in a bully free zone.

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  Was your child’s resilience worn down? Did anybody have empathy for them and did it make a difference?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

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