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Bullying & Beyond…the challenges?

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

 

I have been writing on the topic of bullying since late last year and I greatly appreciate all the support, encouragement and insightful feedback and comments which I have received to my Bullying & Beyond posts!

In order to access the most up to date information available on bullying and gain some insights and understanding of the Government’s education policy regarding the prevention of bullying,  I decided to join a blended learning programme being offered by NABC; the National Anti Bullying Association of Ireland, entitled Bullying Prevention & Intervention Online Course for Teachers.  It is a ten week online programme which also includes two face to face sessions in DCU, Dublin City University, St Patrick’s, Drumcondra, in Dublin.

And so, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts with me and in doing so, help me inform my answer to the first question we have been posed…

What do you think are the greatest challenges teachers face when dealing with bullying behaviours?

I look forward to your thought provoking responses!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie

Bullying & Beyond…Calling Irish Post Primary teachers…

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

 

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…

Calling All Teachers to Register for Anti-Bullying Schools Programme

“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.”

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

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… Blossom

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

via Daily Prompt: Blossom

 

‘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!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… No EXCUSE…Part 1

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

 

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…

He said…
“but the bully had issues of his own”
and
“but the other boy had ADHD”
and
“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?

Le grà,

Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Yes, you were bullied too!

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

 

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,

Bullying & Beyond…3.Improve your Listening Skills!

And when the challenge becomes overwhelming, remember

Bullying & Beyond…4.Self-care x 10!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Whose expectations?

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

 

Have you ever expected or wished for the easy path?  I know I have on many occasions!

 

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The Path of Life or The Easy Path at The Japanese Garden, Irish National Stud, Kildare and in life!

 

Life is easy if as a parent/teacher your children/students excel at sport, are the high achievers, are highly academic or simply, functioning!

But that’s not always reality and as a parent or teacher you’ve noticed your child/student disengage and opt out of school and fail exams. Your dreams and expectations are fading in front of your eyes.  You’re upset, disappointed maybe even embarrassed.

Your child/student ‘should’ be independent, ‘should’ be academic, ‘should’ be functioning… but they’re not!

They’ve just ruined all your well laid plans and you feel bad!  Now, spare a thought for how bad your child/student feels and that’s before you opened your mouth and added insult to injury.

So now what?

Well now is the perfect time to review YOUR expectations!

If your child/student had just been diagnosed with a major heart complaint, what expectations would you have?  I bet you’d focus on what they can still achieve.  You’d admire them for getting out of bed.  You’d be pleased they pushed through their health limitations and managed to attend school!

So please, also take mental health into consideration and revisit YOUR expectations .  The verbal and non-verbal messages you give your child/student, can be life-defeating when they struggle with mental health issues, bullying or what may even seems like an uncomplicated adolescence.

So if your child/student manages to turn back in for class…

1. Start by acknowledging that there is some issue.

2. Next acknowledge the fact that your child/student is in attendance TODAY.

3. Note the possibility they may not make the grade… but look for the bigger picture.

4. Practice unconditional, non-judgemental love and see the effort they are making, no matter how small.

5.  Acknowledge their presence.

6.  Recognise their engagement. Tell them you see that they have pushed through their health limitations to attend school and mix with their peers rather than self-isolating themselves in their bedroom!

Now you’ve realigned YOUR expectations!  Now you’re telling them they are good enough, exactly as they are!

This approach will help your child/student learn to accept themselves as good enough.  They may even let themselves feel happy!  This very powerful feeling is addictive and soon they will want more.  They will, in their own time, step into the driving seat and begin to empower themselves.

As a parent/teacher, try to understand, what is run of the mill and easy for one child/student, can be very challenging for another child/student.  Placing value on their efforts not their achievements can be a game changer.  (If you can see no effort, review your expectations again.  Maybe just breathing and staying alive is taking all their effort). Love them even more, they need it more!

Watch them as they engage with life on their terms, at the level they are able for, at this precise moment.  Now you’re encouraging them to pass the more important and real test – the test that is not the easy path but the path of life!

Have you ever had your expectations dashed?  Have you realigned your expectations and seen your child/student flourish?

Le grà,

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… 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

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