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?
Today I realise that the Universe has a plan for us all. The reason behind this realisation is because today…
I brought home the beautiful print created for me by Philip Abang. Philip asked to take my words and use them as part of his project. I am so greatful for the beauty he has brought to my words. You can read how it came about here
I’m not good at identifying and setting goals. I’m more a ‘trust the Universe’ and a ‘let it happen’ type of person.The Universe is taking my little steps and reflecting them and more back to me. When I shared my first blog post I couldn’t have imagined that blogging would bring me to a much more positive place. A place where I’ve written over 300 posts some of which are part of a series on bullying and its impact on us as a family, with a focus on recreating a better life beyond bullying.When I started out I never thought about what time and a little blogging could open up to me.Now I know I only have to keep blogging, keep sharing and encouraging… the Universe will bring about the rest.
My writing has brought me through the best of times and the worst of times to a Spring of hope from a Winter of despair to paraphrase Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of two Cities.”
I’m breaking with my usual routine of sharing at the end of the week because, lets call a spade a spade, I have been let go again, unpaid, like every year, for 11 years now, for every holiday, from my teaching post until after the Easter holidays and so I get to spend time with my much loved and enjoyed family and writing instead of being with my much loved and enjoyed students, whose willingness to share their true selves with me… has brought me through the best of times and the worst of times to a Spring of hope from a Winter of despair!
And thanks to Paulas Light and her 3TC prompts for helping me to voice this…
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?
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.
I realised the reason why I have to follow my heart and try to begin a conversation about bullying. I realised the reason I can’t stand back is because…
“The song I came to sing is left unsung. I spent my life stringing and unstringing my instrument.” Rabindranath Tagore.
And today I also found myself learning that I can’t let embarrassment of my wounds hold me back because…
“Nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.” Professor and theologian Henri Nouwen.
Are you holding back from you song? Will you trust enough to sing your song? Will you hide your wounds or use them in the service of others? I’d love to hear your thoughts.