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Bullying & Beyond…17. Stand up, speak up!

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

 

 

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;

avoiding situations,
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
then…

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 my next post I will help you list what you can do.

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?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…5.Loneliness

 

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

 

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.

So 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?

Much love,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…2.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.

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… 15. 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… 10.Painting the pain, part three.

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

 

As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t paint the pain of bullying experienced by our son because the canvas is blank and will remain blank as our son, kept almost all of the painful details to himself.

What I can paint is what we as parents noticed at home, which included, his frustration shown through nasty comments and angry outbursts. His loss of interest in his hobbies. His withdrawal into himself. His sleep pattern changed dramatically, unable to get to sleep resulting in him sleeping longer into the morning and soon he developed insomnia.   He was awake at night and asleep during the day.   We slowly noticed a real change in his pleasant and warm personality.    All these changes led to self-isolation and school refusal.

We stood by helplessly, watching our warm, outgoing, resilient child slowly disengage from all aspects of his normal functioning life.

This did not happen over-night. Being bullied was something that chipped away at his resilience and eventually over years, wore him down.

Every child, no matter their age, sex, nationality, colour or faith is entitled to attend school, to feel happy and included. They deserve to achieve, to the best of their ability, without the fear of bullying and its devastating effects.

The pain of his upset is still visceral as I recall and share these memories.  It hurts because I realise, yet again, that the sheer frustration and powerlessness we felt came from feeling unheard in a broken system.  This feeling of isolation compounded the impact bullying was having on our family.

Thankfully we have, as a family and individually, empowered ourselves to move forward whilst not diminishing the pain of the past. But instead wanting to put our learning to the service of others.  You might like to read our son’s attitude, Bullying…”I am grateful for it all”…

Have you or your children experienced bullying?  Did it wear down your child’s resilience? Did it render you silent and make you feel powerless?

I would love to hear your experience so that together we can let other families know that they are not alone.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Hello from Ireland!

Hello Norway,

Welcome on board! And thank you…

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Welcome to Create Space http://www.ree-creates.com

 

Actually, I’d like to take a minute or two to thank everybody!

I won’t start naming Countries or individual names because you know I mean you, and all because you stopped in to visit and share such kind and encouraging words this past week, since Andy joined our family.

The thing is you will never know how much of a difference your words have made to both myself and Emma!

And of course to Andy…as you can see he’s under so much pressure!

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I don’t know what we’d do without those frequent “dog-naps!”

 

Emma has just started an Instagram account and she would love you to visit her and Andy @reallyhandyandy where she will document and share their journey towards improved mental health and where she hopes to fulfill her dream and goal of paving the way towards the availability of Psychiatric Service Dogs in Ireland.

This post explains in more detail… Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part two.

Do you have a dog or other amazing pet? What difference does your pet make to your life? Have you heard of Psychiatric Service Dogs?

With heartfelt wishes,

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part two.

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

 

It has been just two weeks since I shared my last post in this Bullying & Beyond series.  It is not an easy read and comes with a trigger warning.  You might like to access it, to give you some background to today’s post… you will find it here… Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

Those past two weeks have been very challenging for our daughter as she tries to cope with her anxiety but she refuses to give in and her resilience is remarkable.  She has been pressing political representatives and support organisations for many months to try and access the support of a Psychiatric Service Dog. Sadly in Ireland this support is unheard of.  While there are guide dogs for the blind and companion dogs for autism, access to Psychiatric Support Dogs does not exist.  To understand the whole area of Psychiatric Support Dogs, Emma has been busy educating and informing herself via books, online sites and Youtube and has decided to go it solo for the moment.

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This is Andy…who knows what the future holds for him and Emma as they follow their dream to see Andy become the first Psychiatric Service Dog in Ireland. #breaking down stigmas one paw at a time.

 

She hopes that in time and with the correct training Andy will be able to pre-empt the onset of panic attacks which are having a life limiting effect on her.

She has just started an Instagram account and she would love you to visit her and Andy @reallyhandyandy where she will document and share their journey towards improved mental health and where she hopes to fulfill her dream and goal of paving the way towards the availability of Psychiatric Service Dogs in Ireland.

Do you struggle with mental health issues?  Do you have panic attacks?  What do you know about Psychiatric Service Dogs?  Do you know anybody who would benefit from reading this post, if so, please feel free to share.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

20180708_110930
Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

Trigger Warning – Bullying, upsetting read, almost 1.3k word count and only a synopsis.

I would really appreciate if you would consider sharing this…

If I could paint a picture of the pain of bullying I would because a picture can say much more than any amount of words. But I hope my words can help you instead, paint your own picture of young lives tainted, damaged and almost destroyed by bullying.

Begin by taking a nice relaxing breath and feel the peace and contentment of a happy life…Just breath.

Now add two children to the picture and see the eldest overcome some challenges, such as being shy and changing school after one year. See the youngest child beginning life weighing 2lb 9oz and being the best Christmas present we brought home that Christmas, three months after he was born. Now laugh and imagine the relief of a diagnosis of full health at the age of one. No heart murmur. No lung deficiency. No eye sight problems. See him run into school without a backward glance, loving all the new activity and company.

Take another relaxing breath and practice gratitude for two happy, healthy children aged five and seven. Follow your heart, values and beliefs and raise them to be loving and kind; to watch out for the welfare of others and to go out of your way to be inclusive and help others feel they belong.

Now picture a knot in your stomach as you notice things begin to change… upset going to school, lunch not eaten. Hear her tell stories of constant name calling, jibing and mocking. Feel her pain as they make fun of her prominent teeth and her love of galloping around the playground instead of running because of her infatuation with horses. Approach the teacher. Confront a young boy’s carer for his bullying of her on the school bus.

Notice the tears, bitter tears of being excluded by one or two girls. Soon more of her circle follow their lead and she’s left feeling frustrated and lonely. Watch as school anxiety develops, tears and tummy aches rack her body and people comment how thin she is. See her push her food around her plate…and then around some more. Observe family trips to cafes or restaurants become a nightmare.

Soon separation anxiety develops and you carry her into school and peel her off you as you try to reassure her that today will be better; the children will be lovely and friendly. Add in lots of GP visits, referrals to counsellors, psychotherapy and meetings with teachers. Watch homework suffering and educational milestones not being achieved. Listen as you are advised to have an educational assessment done but in the same breath advised that you’ll have to arrange it privately and pay about 400 euro as the government only fund two per year and more disadvantaged children need it. See some school supports come onboard, extra learning support, confidence building and be advised a follow-up 400 euro report is needed before she enters secondary school, needed they say to access extra support there. Watch her relatively happy during 1st year with no supports offered or thankfully needed.

Feel the kick in your gut as a happy 1st year turns into an upset 2nd year and more of the same, more tears, more anxiety, more loneliness and exclusion. Send her to pottery classes and see her flourish and then watch as even in the privacy of her own home she is a victim, as we laugh and enjoy the company of relatives over Christmas, she is hounded. Witness her stress as two girls send texts with nasty, abusive messages. Contact the Gardaì and find there’s not much you can do, change her phone sim.

Advise the school in case she should be targeted by these girls in person. Hear that the two girls are reprimanded. Listen in shock when you’re summoned to the school to collect your emotionally upset child having been physically attacked, dragged to the floor by her hair and kicked and punched by one of the girls. See the nasty black and blue bruise leave its mark on her skin, knowing full well the ongoing abuse is leaving its nasty tentacles entwined even deeper within. Read nasty lies posted about her on a social media site to slander and ridicule. Approach the parents. Be kind, ask for respect, say you won’t involve the law.

In the meantime watch her at home, refusing school for weeks and support her decision to change school.

Breath another reaxing breath as she flourishes, feeling accepted, part of the group. See her take on new experiences and even a school adventure trip for five days away from home.

Gag and dry-retch, choke and sufficate, imagining how she felt when they poured water down her throat while she slept; minding her own business, doing no harm to anyone! See her retreat into herself, go to school and get phone calls to bring her home sick, refuse school. More GP visits, psychological appointments and point blank school refusal. Mountains of paperwork to obtain home school hours and achieve her Leaving Certificate despite all the torment and abuse.

Years later get messages from the bully who physically asaulted her, telling of her regret, her distress, her depression, anxiety and attempted suicide because of what she did. Feel a horrific and tangible need to rip her apart but instead hear our amazing daughter say how she has forgiven her…breath deeply and learn a lesson in compassion and tell the girl it’s ok, don’t worry, access supports, do well in college.

And later still witness the distress, the panic attacks, the anxiety, the new courses; some completed some not. See her clothes become two sizes too big as the anxiety grips her throat and messes with her appetite. See her busy herself baking and sculpting, creating things of beauty and remind yourself that you don’t care about an unfinished course or a career or thoughtless people who don’t ask how she is doing but instead ask “what’s she doing with herself” and proceed to recount how their daughter, her peers, achieved their third level qualifications.  See her reach out and be told it’s five weeks to see a new counsellor – pathetic Irish healthcare.  Marvel as she learns Dutch with her phone app. Admire how she lobbies every politician for a service dog, unheard of in Ireland but which might just enable her complete her course by helping her ward off panic attacks on the train. Encourage her as she appeals to the welfare system for a companion pass so somebody could travel with her on the train. Practice and encourage patience as she waits patiently for a human being to pass her application. But most of all we just love her and admire her amazing resilience because any of those bullies would have crumbled under the strain years ago and that’s the politest sentence I can pen about them.

Oh and by the way, that’s just what was going on for our daughter. We have a son who was bullied too… but he hid it for a long time, to save us the pain.  I’ll try to paint that picture in part two.

If you think this could help anyone who was or is a victim know that they are not alone, please feel free to share. If you or anyone you know was a bully or you have been told by your school that your child is a bully, please consider the pain you or they have or are causing. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…8.Perpetuating Social Norms…

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

 

Today I would like to share T.S’s very emotive, true story from his blog “Crazywriterof6.” As I read T.S’s distressing reality, I felt my body became anxious.  I felt his apprehension and fear.  His sense of loneliness and isolation is palpable.  He says… “Maybe some of you can relate and see that even then, you weren’t alone”. No child should be in dread every day, isolated and living with the fear of bullying!

In my last post I wrote about the difficulty I had in supporting my children, both victims of bullying, because of the pressure on victims to remain silent.  You might like to read it… Big Boys…Don’t Cry!

We now hear in T.S’s own words, his deeply ingrained and debilitating belief as to why he was bullied… “The torture continued. Many moments before this event, many after. I have written some of them out, just to get them out. All this because I was different than the “normal people”, different from what society says I should be. Different because I was overweight”.  I believe he was not different… everybody is different and everybody has the right to be respected for who and how they are.

Please enhance your understanding by reading his story…

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/48424428/posts/20

At a funeral yesterday, one sentence struck me, that sentence was “We could all be better people,” meaning we could all do more to be there for others.

Let’s break down the silence and begin a cross cultural, worldwide conversation about bullying.  Let’s educate ourselves and our children about bullying and let’s tear down out-dated social norms.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

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