You can see I’m tiny but it doesn’t stop me…
Do what you can within the boundaries of your limitations… and then do a tiny bit more!
Socks & Marie xx
With the benefit of experience and hindsight here are 6 warning signs to save you these painful pitfalls…
1. If you or your child are offered a solution from a teacher or principal saying, “sometimes you have to learn to stand up for yourself,” remember your child is not the only victim of bullying here, you are too. Don’t take it! It’s not a good enough solution!
2. If your child is starting to miss days from school and this is totally out of character for them be sure to listen to your intuition. Reflect on it. Seek advice and act on it. You might like to read Bullying & Beyond…17. Stand up, speak up!
3. If well meaning friends knock your intuition and fail to see your child’s mental health warning signs, please, don’t act on their advice to “drag them out of bed and kick them in the butt, straight into school.” You know your child better than any concerned friend. Your child is unable to voice their upset, they are showing you instead…see the signs!
4. If a teacher tells you at a parent teacher meeting that “sure we all say things” please read between the lines. They are not admitting the full truth of what was said and your child is too hurt to tell you. Please don’t hold back, immediately ask what they mean! Remind them that their words have the power to empower your child or the power to destroy your child’s last threads of confidence.
5. If your child is physically and psychologically assault and if they are offered the ‘wise’ advice by a principal to ‘build a high wall & put it all behind you’. Remember this experience is traumatic! It has denied your child the right to respect. Demand to see the school’s anti-bullying policy. Look for evidence of their bully free zone where high walls won’t be need.
5. If a person in authority says teachers will be more sympathetic say “I’d prefer empathy thank you,” children need a school that operates from a place of empathy not sympathy.
6. And finally, if you are told your child needs to be more resilient…stand your ground, look the advice giver in the eye, thank them for their suggestion but leave them in no doubt that your child has been too resilient for too long in an environment that has no obvious signs of safe boundaries or a bully free zone. And then ask them how resilient they’d be in the same environment!
Now you’re taking ownership, using your voice and making progress… to ree-create your life beyond bullying!
Has bullying affected you or your children? What painful pitfalls did you experience? What did you learn from it?
Mindfully Marie xx
Today I realise that the Universe has a plan for us all. The reason behind this realisation is because today…
I brought home the beautiful print created for me by Philip Abang. Philip asked to take my words and use them as part of his project. I am so greatful for the beauty he has brought to my words. You can read how it came about here
I’m not good at identifying and setting goals. I’m more a ‘trust the Universe’ and a ‘let it happen’ type of person.
The Universe is taking my little steps and reflecting them and more back to me. When I shared my first blog post I couldn’t have imagined that blogging would bring me to a much more positive place. A place where I’ve written over 300 posts some of which are part of a series on bullying and its impact on us as a family, with a focus on recreating a better life beyond bullying.
When I started out I never thought about what time and a little blogging could open up to me.
Now I know I only have to keep blogging, keep sharing and encouraging… the Universe will bring about the rest.
In a previous post I wrote about the importance of finding and using your voice…Bullying & Beyond…17. Stand up, speak up!
So where can you start?
Start with a confident front, let your child see that you can handle this upsetting situation, even if underneath you are emotionally upset and probably unsure where to begin.
The first thing you can do is quip yourself with information, search the internet, empower yourself through learning. Remember these three words…”knowledge is power” and knowledge will ensure you are no longer stuck…
Write a list of things you can do, which could include…
1. Contact your child’s class teacher or the teacher your child feels they have a connection with and trust most. Initially make contact by phone or by letter, be discreet, limit your physical contact with the school as your presence may be observed by the bullies and cause repercussions for your child.
2. If the bullying persists, arrange an appointment with the school Principal, again be discreet as in point 1 above. Have a list or record of bullying events so that you communicate the details accurately and effectively.
3. Consult your General Practitioner for medical support. In Ireland you need a G.P., referral to access Counselling, Psychology or Psychiatric support.
In Ireland you can also…
4. Contact a member of the Board of Management, a member of the Parents Association (most schools have a Parents Association) or the National Parents Council. Read more about NPC here… http://www.npc.ie
5. TUSLA, The Child and Family Agency is now the dedicated State agency responsible for improving wellbeing and outcomes for children. Read more about TUSLA here… https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/service-strands/the-statutory-educational-welfare-service/
Under the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) of TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency work with young people and their families who are experiencing difficulty with school attendance. Their main priority is around the welfare of children and young people and ensuring that concerns and problems around attendance are addressed before attendance becomes a crisis issue. Read more here… https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/service-strands/
In schools participating in the Department of Education and Skill’s DEIS initiative (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency have responsibility for operational management of two school-based support services – the Home School Community Liaison Scheme and the School Completion Programme. You might like to read more here… https://www.tusla.ie/services/educational-welfare-services/school-support-services-under-the-deis-initiative/
If you are not getting the answers or support you need, schools in Ireland also have the support of NEPS; the National Educational Psychological Services.
NEPS psychologists work with both primary and post-primary schools and are concerned with learning, behaviour, social and emotional development. They work in partnership with teachers, parents and children in identifying educational needs. Read more about NEPS here…www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/NEPS-Home-Page.html
If your school does not inform you of the availability of this service, request that the NEPS Psychologist is contacted or contact them yourself as I did.
NEPS, National Educational Psychological Service https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/Information-for-Parents.html
If you or your child are/have been bullied then I would like to hear from you. Was it difficult to find information and the support you needed?
Mindfully Marie xx
Your child is or has been bullied at school and you have found an opportunity to talk to them, making a written record of events as you discuss them, without being caught up in frustrating and emotionally upsetting arguments. Now pause to acknowledge the progress you have made, you’ve managed to… 6.Avoid the hook!
You’re now aware and can understand that the changes in behaviour you’ve seen are signs of bullying. Those signs probably included your child;
reducing their academic performance,
refusing to go to school,
lacking motivation, wanting to achieve goals but showing perfectionist traits, then appearing paralysed,
disappointed by not living up to the high standards they set themselves,
withdrawing into themselves,
being stressed, having emotional outbursts,
showing signs of anxiety, depression, OCD or specific phobias,
consuming excess alcohol, or maybe using drugs,
getting into trouble in school,
being charged with social disorder,
or engaging in self-harm
If you are like me,
you probably struggle to know what to do.
You are unsure of where to turn next.
You are probably paralysed like we were.
You probably struggled to even accept the situation.
You wanted to wave a magic wand and fix everything…
If any of the above resonates with you, it is very important that you are pro-active. Do not allow bullying to render you paralysed. Your child might not want you to speak up for fear of making the situation worse or been seen as ‘a grass’ or a ‘cry-baby’. You must be very discreet but you must seek out support to help you stand up and speak up to bullying!
In this post I help you list what you can do. Bullying & Beyond…20 Knowledge is Power!
Have you noticed your child’s behaviour changing? Have you struggled to understand the changes you’ve noticed. Can you see it from a different perspective now?
Mindfully Marie xx
In this post I tried to share a parent’s exhilaration and gratitude at the sound of a toilet being flushed! I fully understand if you are confused and I invite you to step into my shoes by reading along…ACCEPTANCE!
Have you or your children struggled with the impact of school bullying? How did it impact your/their/your families life/lives? Can you recall the first sign of recovery and how it made you feel?
Mindfully Marie xx
I’m always grateful when readers share their experiences with me, it starts a conversation on bullying and prompts further reflection.
I’d like to share two such responses to my post, Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the pain, part three.
Paula at Paula Light https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/74951
bravely said “I was bullied for being fat and nerdy and bad at sports. Thank God I could get away from the kids outside of school and escape into books and tv shows. I also found my own hobbies, such as needlepoint. But today, with social media, there’s no escape. That’s the worst ~ I can’t imagine the horror of never escaping the peer group.”
Parikhit Dutta at Weeping Pines https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/56154764
responded with empathy saying…
“I’m so glad for you Paula. It can be so frustrating to live the pains of bullying always, never being able to escape. And isn’t it a silent killer”.
My thanks to both Paula and Parikhit for prompting this post.
I can, from experience, confirm that bullying via social media is as noxious as poison gas, it is a silent killer!
One Christmas while we were enjoying a family gathering our daughter was suffering in silence in the midst of us, as bullies targeted her with vile and upsetting messages on social media. We were oblivious to this happening until our daughter could no longer contain her distress and broke down telling us. Even after the girls in question were reprimanded and made close their social media accounts, the bullying continued because they were able to create new accounts using fake identification.
Social media enables bullies to infiltrate the victim’s home; often the only safe space victims have. Online bullying is omnipresent, affecting children, adults and even Politicians, as we’ve seen during the United Kingdom’s Brexit attempts.
When bullying is frequent and continues over a protracted period it can cripple the victim leaving them distressed and confused. The implications can be life long, leaving them with low confidence and self-esteem, and can cause them intense dislike of themselves for being too fat, too thin, nerdy, shy or a miriad of other perfectly normal human characteristics just because a bully decided these traits were “unacceptable”.
Other sign of distress can include mood swings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, eating disorders, OCD, and finally but not exhaustively, self-harm until another innocent, tormented life could be lost to bullying.
Having witnessed the effect of online bullying I’d like to highlight to parents the distress children feel at, the horror of never escaping from this silent killer.” I’d also like to stress the lasting impact of bullying and encourage parents, adults & society to be vigilant.
Have you or your children been bullied? Did you/they experience “the horror of never escaping the peer group” because of the pervasiveness of social media? Did you watch this silent killer in action?
Mindfully Marie xx
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?
Mindfully Marie xx