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.
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?
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?
In my previous post…Bullying & Beyond…2.Really Listen!…I wrote about the importance of Listening. When somebody, be it a child or an adult, is distressed as a result of bullying, just having somebody who is willing to listen to them can make a huge difference to how they feel. Your first reaction may be to rush in and immediately solve everything but instead be patient and listen.
Here are some simple tips I found helpful,
1.Acknowledge your child’s emotional state -say that you can see how upset, angry etc., they are.
2.Remove or resist any distractions.
3.Make sure you can clearly hear what your child is saying.
4. Focus your attention and concentrate.
5. Be patient, listen to the whole story.
6. Make encouraging, agreeable sounds to show you are paying attention…’mmm,’ ‘I see,’ ‘oh right’.
7. Avoid making judgements – take time to consider before offering solutions.
8. Ask questions to clarify.
9. Keep an open mind.
10. Summarise or sum up what you heard, ‘so the main problem was’ or ‘if I understand properly you feel…’ to let them know you understand exactly.
Remember to pay attention to their tone of voice and observe their body language, which can give you insights or hidden messages which they may not be able to voice.
If you agree on any particular course of action or efforts to address the issue, be sure and follow through. Listening needs to be followed up with action, even if it’s only arranging follow-up conversations. If you fail to follow-through, your child may get the impression that what they have confided in you, just goes in one ear and out the other.
For any victim of bullying, building and maintaining trust is so important and this can’t happen unless you stick to your word.
I hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to share any experience you have had which would have benefitted from active and effective listening.
Alternatively please share some effective approaches you have used. I would love to learn what worked for you.
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?
Anti-bullying training for teachers that is evidence based and backed by up to the minute research is vital if students are to have access to the best possible education in an educational environment that is bully free.
The NABC, National Anti-bullying Centre in Ireland is providing an anti-bullying programme for teachers working in Irish Post primary schools…read more here and please share…
“The FUSE programme is part of the Department of Education and Skills Wellbeing Framework and supported by the NABC, ISPCC and Dublin City University, and funded by Facebook. To run FUSE in your school and learn more about the programme please visit the FUSE website: https://antibullyingcentre.ie/fuse/ or please contact us on Tel: 01 884 2012.”
When your child is being bullied at school, it is important to reach out and find professional support. There is a lot of qualified support out there but it is very important to find a counsellor that you and/or your child can relate to. The trust you build with your counsellor is vital to the healing process.
Shame is an important aspect of bullying and an aspect I’d like to raise awareness of. Teachers carry a heavy task, large class sizes and a wide variety of needs to be met but I think it’s important, for parents and teachers, to be very aware that children remember shaming remarks and wear them like a label, long after the event. The emotional growth of children is stunted if they are shamed in front of their siblings or peers.
This experienced and knowledgeable gentleman played an important part in providing insights that helped us heal our family. Of course when you gain insights from counselling, you can choose to learn from them and use them to heal your family or if you so wish, not learn from them or use them. At the end of the day, the path you choose is up to you…
Mindfully Marie xx
Shaming children leaves a lasting impact and gives them core shame which they bring into adult life
Shaming remarks made to children under twelve have a more drastic and permanent impact that can become core because, like parents, teachers spend a lot of time with them, and the frequency of these remarks is a key element in laying the crop of shame. A combination of parental and teaching shaming is particularly damaging and reinforces the sense of not being good enough in the child. We can choose not to shame any child. Education is not just about intellectual or cognitive development, it must include emotional nourishment as well, which is facilitated by praise and allowing children the space to interact with each other. So, I will leave this part of the blog with a simple poem by an unknown poet on the practical difference between shame and praise –
“I’ve got 2 A’s” the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee
His father very bluntly asked
“Why did you not get three?”
“I’ve mowed the grass” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away”.
His father asked him with a shrug,
“Did you clean off the clay?
“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said
“And did you sweep the floor?”
The children in the house next door
Seemed happy and content.
The same things happened over there,
But this is how it went:
“I’ve got 2 A’s the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said
“That’s great! I’m glad you live with me.”
“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away,”
His father answered with much joy,
“You’ve made my happy day”
“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
“Each day I love you more.”
Children need encouragement
For tasks they’re asked to do
If they’re to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.