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Bullying & Beyond…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

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Big Boys…

 

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

 

Whenever our daughter was bullied she would invariably come home upset and tell us or sometimes her upset would become obvious to us after a while, when we took the time to Really Listen!

It was always upsetting to see her so distressed, usually she felt very lonely having been excluded or she was confused and frustrated as to why she was constantly called names and verbally abused. But either way we could comfort her and reassure her that the bullying was not about her but always about the bullies.

However, it was not so easy to offer support when our son experienced bullying simply because you can’t help a child who is being bullied, if you don’t know about it.

For a long time, our son kept the bullying to himself and kept the upset deep inside. I think our son did not want to add to our worries by sharing the difficulty he was having.  I also think another contributing factor to his silence, was social norms. These powerful messages or ways of behaving which are normalised within a society or culture are very powerful and from a young age, boys are conditioned to be tough, be manly, don’t be a cry-baby, a tell-tale, or “a grass,” running with the story to parents or teachers and above all, they are bombarded with the message that whatever you do… don’t cry!

If you’d like an excellent insight into bullying I highly recommend you visit Weeping Pines and read Parikhit’s post which shares his experience of bullying… Boys dont Cry

https://duttaparikhit.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/boys-dont-cry/

If you suspect your son is being bullied, discuss bullying in general while having dinner together.  Point out that asking for help means being strong not weak. An analogy might be helpful such as saying: When you play hurling you don’t do everything alone – so it’s important to have a team around you in life too! It might also help to compare asking for help to being similar to training: A good sportsman needs to practice the things he is not good at or things that are new for him, so asking for help also takes practice.

Have you or your child been bullied?  If so did cultural and social norms play a part in maintaining your distress?

Let’s get a conversation going about bullying! Let’s break down the silence around bullying and change some out-dated social and culturally accepted norms.

Le grà (with love),

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Petition please support…Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, Part II

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

 

It is now five months since I shared my Bullying & Beyond post, Painting the Pain, part one.  It is not an easy read and comes with a trigger warning.  You can access it here… Bullying & Beyond… 10.Painting the Pain, part one.

Those past five months have been very challenging for our daughter and for us as parents, as she tries bravely to cope with her anxiety.   She refuses to give in and her resilience is remarkable.  As well as accessing professional health support, she has also started a campaign, to try and set up a Psychiatric Assistance Dog charity in Ireland.  Sadly in Ireland while there are guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism, Psychiatric Assistance Dogs do not exist.

To understand the whole area of Psychiatric Assistance Dogs, Emma has been busy educating herself via books, blogs, Social Media and YouTube.  A year ago, she began her campaign, contacting political representatives and support organisations.

Emma’s campaign is driven by her goal to have legislation enabled in Ireland to give Psychiatric Assistance Dogs equal status to that available to users of guide dogs for the blind and Assistance dogs for autism.  Having the company of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog to pre-empt the onset of panic attacks will enhance Emma’s life, allowing her to leave home for the first time in months feeling comfortable and safe as she goes about her daily life.

Emma has purchased a Golden Retriever puppy, which she has named Doris.

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Doris, just newly arrived…

 

It is hoped that in time and with the correct training Doris will be the first recognised Psychiatric Assistance Dog in Ireland.  Emma dreams of offering this service of trained Psychiatric Assistance Dogs to others.

To see this goal realised, Emma has also worked unceasingly to set up her website www.candocanineire.com and you can read more of her mission and goals here.

Emma has been in regular contact with the office of the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Mr. Finian McGrath and she has created a petition, which she hopes will receive lots of support and help her have Ireland enact and recognise equal status for Psychiatric Assistance Dogs.  I would be forever grateful if you would make Emma and Doris’ day by signing their petition and finding one other person to do likewise.

I hope I’ve attached the petition link correctly, for convenience, just as you’ll find it on Emma and Doris’ Instagram account…

https://linktr.ee/dorismakesmy.day

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Doris and Emma together making the best of their day

 

Emma and Doris have also started an Instagram account @dorismakesmyday where they would love you to keep them company as they both document and share their journey towards an Ireland that recognises Psychiatric Assistance Dogs and offers people like Emma who live with a mental health condition access to the love and support of a Psychiatric Assistance Dog.

And we can’t finish without recalling this trailblazer… Andy, Emma’s first dog.  Although it broke Emma’s heart (and ours) to let him go to a playfilled future, it had to be done.

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A shoutout to Andy…who still holds a special place in our hearts.

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…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… It only takes one…

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

 

It only takes one bully to wreak havoc on a child’s life.

But likewise it only takes one mother to start a hope-filled conversation about bullying for things to change for the better!

This post was prompted by Cee’s photo prompt; the topic was 1 Item or the Number One.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: 1 Item or the Number One

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Beware the word ‘Rare’?

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

 

“It is rare that children with good confidence and self esteem will be the victim of bullying”…so a recent article stated,

Rare…means seldom occurring.

I say beware the word ‘rare‘ which can lull you into a false sense of security…

Rare still happens to someone!

Have you ever stopped to consider how rare is rare?

Consider this… If your children were functioning to the peak of their individual ability at home, in school, and in community life until they were bullied, over an extended period of time, would that tip them into the ‘rare‘ category?

Or would reporting the bullying but being told ‘stand up for yourself,’ ‘build a wall and put it behind you’ or “he needs to be more resilient” be the tipping point into that “rare” category?

Having good confidence and self esteem might make you more effective at dealing with bullying, but if bullying is experienced on an on-going basis, and if it is left unsupported over a long period, it is the DURATION of bullying that, in my experience, overwhelms the victim’s confidence and self esteem and determines the impact of bullying, both short and long term.

The only solution to bullying, is rapid and easy access to support and that support must be informed, professional and cohesive. Anything less is unacceptable! You might find some information & support in this post…Bullying & Beyond…20 Knowledge is Power!

What do you think? Please join in this conversation and help others find the support they need, now, and not when it is too late.

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

Bullying & Beyond…Beware of Painful Pitfalls

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

 

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?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

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