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Listening

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…Self-care x 10!

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

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?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…Really Listen!

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

In my first post about bullying I wrote about the importance of not losing heart, Bullying & Beyond…1.Take Heart!

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?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Take Heart!

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

 

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.

Much love,

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… Mindful Heart!

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

 

In my previous post…Bullying & Beyond…23.Who cares?
I shared some of my guesses as to why victims of bullying hide how much they care.

Mich at Michnavs joined the conversation and her insightful comment got me thinking, so I’m breaking with my tradition of waiting to post at the weekend.

This is what Mich said… “Very well said Marie. I am fortunate to have been a teacher and a mother as well..having said that, I got to witness different behaviors and coping mechanisms of kids from different ages…and it’s not easy to spot a problematic or bullied kid…because sometimes they are really good at keeping it cool…but nevertheless I have kept a very mindful heart..”

This was my reply to Mich..

Thank you Mich, I appreciate your encouraging feedback. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts and experience. Bullies are very cunning, manipulative and powerful in their control over their victims, so you are correct in saying it’s not easy to spot a bullied child. Victims have many reasons, (as we’ve seen in my previous post), to become masters of disguise, making it very difficult for teachers of large classes and with ever increasing workloads, to detect a child who is struggling with bullying.

I really like your term a “mindful heart,” it is a good marriage of heart & mind and I envisage it being very Rogerian, (Carl Rogers), encompasing UPR (unconditional positive regard), empathy (being able to step into the victim’s shoes) and congruence (being your true, genuine & real self), all positive, powerful and necessary attributes for teachers, and the core conditions, enabling teachers create effective and theraputic relationships in their classrooms.

These core conditions are the foundation of every successful relationship be it in school, at home or in society.

https://trueselfcounseling.com/2016/02/20/3-core-conditions-for-therapeutic-change/

As a parent, teacher or victim of bullying, what do you think?

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

‘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… 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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