No matter where you are in the world, remember as you walk forward into 2020 you have your friend at your side and I’m here for you waiting in the shadow…
Mindfully Marie xx
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.
Mindfully Marie xx
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?
Mindfully Marie xx
‘NYCTINASTY’…that’s what it’s called when a flower closes in on itself at night to protect itself from a night-time chill or a nectar thief such as bats.
But when you watch your own child close in on themselves the ‘NYCTI’ vanishes from your mind and all that remains are the questions, those ‘NASTY’ nagging, unanswered questions!
You can see your child’s pain and of course being a parent, you can feel their pain but the worst pain is the helplessness you feel being unable to rightify their pain.
There are, you begin to realise, so many things outside your control but over time I’ve learnt that there is so much you CAN do…
You can regularly let your child know that you see that IT’S NOT EASY for them at the moment.
You can also voice, with confidence, even if you don’t feel confident, that you ARE THERE FOR THEM and that you have their back.
You can also be adult enough to realise that the temper tantrums and door slammings are their ONLY way of voicing what they are otherwise unable to verbalise.
Even when their words sting and hurt you to the core you can hold your tongue, which surprisingly is the strongest muscle in our body yet is possibly the weakest when we feel under attack!
The closing-in, the isolating self-protection you see in your child, unlike the flower’s nyctinasty, is not something that reverses itself overnight like the flower that reopen to the first rays of morning warmth.
Your child’s process of re-opening to the world, may take much longer… But be patient and ‘JUST LOVE’ your child and in time they will re-open to the world around them, and you will see how amazing it is when they BLOSSOM!
Mindfully Marie xx
I radiate because of you… my husband, my child, my friend, my fellow blogger…
I radiate because writing has opened up pockets of opportunity for self-expression, possibility and growth…
I radiate because today I can be the smile that makes somebody’s day…
I radiate because today I can be the kind words that take your worries away…
I radiate because tomorrow it might be too late to radiate…
…because I can share hugs that replaces words and tell you that you radiate the world to me!
Think about it…
You radiate because…?
Mindfully Marie xx
Bullying is often experienced by children who;
Are shy or meek,
Are overweight or underweight,
Are neglected or dirty,
Have a learning difficulty,
Are taller than, shorter than or different from the average,
Have low confidence or self esteem,
Are seen as the high achiever; class swat, or
Are of an alternative ethnicity or race to the majority of the class
But our son didn’t fit into any of these categories… or so I thought,
and I was curious as to why he was targeted.
I asked him why he thought he was a victim of bullying…
He reminded me of a phase he went through in primary school when he grew his hair. For a while he was the only child with longer than average hair and then I realised this simple step, outside the norm, meant he had fallen into the “different” category…
Eventually the phase wore off and he cut his hair but it was too late…the foundations of bullying had been laid.
But during that conversation something very important struck me! As he was explaining his experience, he also added a… “BUT” or an “EXCUSE” as to why the bullies behaved this way…
“but the bully had issues of his own”
“but the other boy had ADHD”
“but another bully had a physical impediment and could easily have been bullied himself so he sided with the bully to protect himself.”
My initial reaction was how generous our son was, willing to make excuses and forgive their wrong-doing and destructive behaviour and all these statements made me feel proud;
speaking volumes about his personal values, his humanistic, empathetic private logic and how he saw the world,
but on reflection, it also made me sad;
it spoke volumes about valuing ourselves and expecting to be respected by others. It spoke of our son’s willingness to under-value himself. It spoke of the need for healthy boundaries and knowing when those boundaries have been disrespected.
And while I agree that each of those bullies probably had a difficult back story, or issue of their own…
victims of bullying are innocent and do not need to make excuses for or take ownership of the nasty behaviour or acts perpetrated by bullies. It is however, vital that victims learn the importance of self-respect.
So the bottom line is that it’s NOT OK that bullies treat you disrespectfully
And it’s NOT OK to make excuses for them. You deserve respect!
There is no BUT, there is no EXCUSE…
Have you been bullied? Do you fit into a stereotypical category? Have you made excuses for your bully? Do you still think there is an excuse?
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 evidence of 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 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.
Mindfully Marie xx
Did you know that every time your child is bullied, it leaves a mark, physical, emotional or psychological
And did you know that every time your child is bullied… so are you!
Every time you seek support and fail to get the support you need for your child, you and your family are being bullied again through neglect and broken, dysfunctional systems.
Don’t stand by and let that happen. Trust your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right!
Don’t stop looking for and expecting solutions until you receive some. If you failed to find answers in the past, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty, instead, keep in mind this quote “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better” Maya Angelou.
Now, refocus you efforts and more determined than ever, continue your search for answers.
Have you ever felt bullied because your child was bullied? How did it make you feel? Did you listen to your intuitive gut feeling and renew your efforts to find answers?
You may like to start your search to find some of those answers here on Create Space in my Bullying & Beyond series, here are two suggestions,
And when the challenge becomes overwhelming, remember
Mindfully Marie xx
I love this old photo. It has just reminded me that although we look whole, if you take the time to look closer or get to know someone better, there are always aspects that we haven’t seen! We may or may not feel complete. Nobody can complete us, we have to want to complete ourselves!
What do you do to complete yourself? Are you following your dreams?
Here are my previous thought on Retail Reflection
Mindfully Marie xx
Cee’s Three items or the number three challenge. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/14846827/posts/2323536516