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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They might become withdrawn and sullen or go silent.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…this is the reality

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

 

Trigger alert…this post is upsetting.

Lives are destroyed by bullying.

Children’s mental, emotional and psychological health damaged not only in the short-term but often into the long-term.

Lives are lost, too often, to bullying.  Children unable to cope with the torture inflicted on them by bullies sadly see no way out, other than to take their lives.

I might be writing this from Ireland and this story may refer to Yarraka Bayles, a boy on the other side of the world but the location is irrelevant… bullying is bullying and this is the reality for another child and another family. It is a horrific, upsetting reality.

This bullying is focused on dwarfism.  But if it wasn’t about dwarfism it would be about anything else the bully decided they didn’t like about their victim such as their weight or even their accent.  Take a few moments to educate yourself and then take a few moments to educate your children… because this is a reality that is totally avoidable and it is a reality no child or parents deserve!
Le grà,
Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…Acceptance & Resistance

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

 

The turning point came, the day I learned to accept our son John’s inability to attend school or to live a functioning life.  His life had become dysfunctional because of school bullying.  I shared some of the backstory in Bullying & Beyond… Painting the pain, part three.

Learning to accept his dysfunction as a result of bullying, was a slow process but it was the catalyst for change which allowed him to break free of his dysfunction and move forward with his life.  I shared that in Bullying & Beyond… “Acceptance”, Love & Time.

Our daughter Emma also suffered at the hands of bullies and sadly we are, to this day, still dealing with the aftermath.

It has been a struggle to stay strong and be resilient.  It was often one step forward and two steps back.

But yesterday I remembered the power of acceptance and I let go resistance.  I see yesterday as two steps forward and one step back and that is progress, it is a sign of change to come…

Let me try to explain…

We attempted to drive to Newbridge to visit Newbridge Silverware’s Doris Day exhibition.  You might like to learn about this wonderful event here… https://visitnewbridgesilverware.com/doris-day

We got half way there when Emma could no longer contain her anxiety.

Yesterday was our second attempt, the first attempt we achieved about a third of the journey so yesterday there was progress.

But the biggest progress for me was remembering my ‘acceptance‘ of John’s dysfunction, thanks to the reminder of my Psychologist to let go ‘resistance,’

I was able to make peace with this event and love Emma for herself.  She did her best. We did our best. We sat in our car, in a service station, having a coffee while Emma took a short walk and some air.  We made peace with the situation.  We were truly grateful and expressed our gratitude for that time, that moment, having coffee, having family time, living life to the best we can.

We turned for home with no regrets or upset or shattered expectations but with happy hearts and later last night, Emma announced that she wants to try again next Saturday!

This exhibition means a lot to Emma.  She adores Doris Day and that entire era.  She is training her dog, named ‘Doris’ after Doris Day, to be the first recognised Psychiatric Assistance Dog in Ireland.  She is pushing politicians to recognise this existing EU law, in Ireland.  It is a slow process. I would love you to give her some support as she shares her IG account at dorismakesmyday.

I shared some of Emma & Doris’ backstory in Petition please support…Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, Part II

If you are relatively new here, thank you for reading.  Thank you to my regular readers for your comforting presence as we journey and learn life lessons together.  Your company makes all the difference.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…Dealing with Cyberbullying

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

 

School bullying, particularly cyberbullying is very upsetting.  Parents can’t afford to sit back and avoid educating themselves about cyber/online bullying.

A good place to start, is with this simple advice on Dealing with Cyberbullying.

1.DON’T REPLY TO MESSAGES that harass or annoy you.  Even though you may really want to, this is exactly what the sender wants.  They want to know that they’ve got you worried or upset.

2.  KEEP THE MESSAGE  You don’t have to read it, but keep it.  If you keep getting messages that upset you, you will need to have evidence in order to get help.

3.  BLOCK THE SENDER  You don’t need to put up with somebody harassing you.  Simply click the ‘block’ button.

4.  TELL SOMEBODY YOU TRUST  Talking to your friends, parents, a teacher you trust, or guidance counsellor is usually the first step in dealing with any issue.  If you need to talk to someone straight away please call Childline on 1800 66 66 66.

Have you or your children experenced school bullying or cyberbullying? Is so, how did you deal with it?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

A resource of the National Centre for Technology in Education – Professional Development Service for Teachers

Available at webwise primary pdf

 

Bullying & Beyond…Defining Bullying

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

 

Have you ever considered what bullying is, and what bullying is not?

In Ireland, the Department of Education’s definition of bullying is “Unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical, conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.”

Therefore there are 3 important flags to watch out for in defining behaviour as bullying behaviour, namely…

1.  There must be INTENT (DELIBERATE)

2.  There must be an IMBALANCE OF POWER

3.  It must be REPEATED OVER TIME

However there is an exception in that it is deemed a cyber-bullying offence, if a child is bullied just once, via an open social media platform; where hurtful information or images can be reshared.

I hope you found this post helpful and that you feel confident in defining what bullying is and what bullying is not.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Making moments memorable…

This morning while cooking breakfast, I noticed the bubbles forming and bursting on the surface of my porridge; intent upon their job.  I held onto those air trapped moments, soaking them in! It’s difficult to explain the sensation of absolute awareness that I felt, other than it being a feeling of enhanced appreciation and total bliss.  Life was beautiful; just bubbles and me!

How often do you engage fully in the moment?  Can you describe the sensation?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

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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… Acquiesce.

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

 

I’m angry, and it’s not often I’m angry!  I’m also amazed…amazed at how a word can evoke such angry emotion!

This word ‘Acquiesce,’ gives me such an uneasy feeling because for too long, despite our best efforts we were silenced in a system that was disjointed and had no cohesive plan in place.

Slowly, I knocked on every door.   I struggled to be heard. I contacted every service.  Finally, I discovered the flimsy support that was available.  I wasn’t told this support existed.  I uncovered it, step by painful step.  I came to realise that every school in Ireland has access to a School Psychologist through NEPS.

Our school was one of those schools.

Here’s a small excerpt of what to expect… ”

What do you do if you think your child may need to be seen by a NEPS Psychologist?

  • You need to begin by discussing your child’s needs with the class teacher and/or school principal. Not every child needs to meet the psychologist in person. Each school makes referrals to their NEPS psychologist who helps the school to plan the work”

You can find out more here…

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/FAQs.html

I rang a contact number, I spoke to the School Psychologist.  I told her our son wanted to achieve his Leaving Certificate.  I told her our son was being denied this opportunity because of the impact of bullying on his health.  I reminded her that every child is entitled to an education.

Soon I got a phone call from that Psychologist, a meeting had been arranged with the school to discuss our son’s education.

It did not solve the issue.  The impact of bullying on a child’s well-being and mental health does not disappear overnight but this State funded and readily available intervention went some way towards helping me realise that I was not alone, that we were not alone and that there were support services available that we had not been informed of!

 

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A screenshot from… https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/education/primary_and_post_primary_education/educational_supports/national_educational_psychological_service.html

 

And now I refuse to ‘acquiesce.’  I won’t, under any circumstances, accept, agree or allow something to happen by staying silent or by not arguing.  I won’t acquiesce until I do my bit, no matter how small that may be!

I want to ensure victims, bullies, passive bullies (those who stand by gutless, watching and let the victims suffer), teachers, principals, parents, the community, society, and every nationality have a conversation.  I want them to see the damage school bullying causes. I want to paint a picture of the pain it inflicts – a picture that leave you in no doubt of the long term effects of school bullying.  Please help me break the silence and as we do this, together, please 1.Take Heart!

Dee’s Word of the Day

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/80183056/posts/2151594850

Have you or your children been bullied or silenced? Have you stood by and watched a victim suffer at the hands of a bully?  What would you do differently now?

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

 

 

 

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