Parenting Expert Val Mullally gives a call for peace –  a  call to every parent to take action for a happier, peace-full world.  

Do you ever worry about what sort of world your children will have to survive in? 

What sort of future will your child have?

It’s scary to have people in control of situations who are not in control of themselves.

It’s time for change. We need to be clearly anti-war. War is not an option.

“The cost of war not only to lives but to minds and imaginations, to the integrity of whole societies, is still unsurpassed.”  Rowan Williams

Cost of War to Lives, Minds, Imaginations and Society

 

It’s time for us to do differently. It’s time to raise a generation of people who know that all of us need and deserve mutual respect. We all need to learn how to cooperate.

It’s time to raise a generation who will lead well.

It’s our job as parents – and as grandparents –  to raise that generation.

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Such an old saying we often don’t stop to think about the power of that statement. You, mothers and fathers, parents are the ones who rock the cradle. And grandparents, we rock the cradle too.  This task is so huge and so urgent that every one of us needs to be on board  to make peace a reality.  You, parents, are the ones who rule the world because you are raising the next generation. You are raising the next generation who will either continue to repeat the same patterns of using aggression as their tool of choice to force their own way, no matter what the consequences, or you can raise a different generation who know how to calm themselves so they can stay in the clear thinking “Green Zone”, and model how to find better, kinder solutions, that take everyone’s needs into account.

We, as parents – and grandparents – need to demonstrate by our own lives that any form of bullying behaviour is NOT OKAY.

Will you choose to set the example in your own home?

“There is a choice in everything, but in the end the choice makes you.”

The choice is yours. The opportunity is here.

We all hope we will be parents who act in a loving way, but, as my colleague Elizabeth Garry Brosnan says,

Hope is not a strategy

Always we hope for better, more, greater… but dear friend, hope is not a strategy!

If we want to stop having bullies running the world we need to have a quiet revolution in our homes and schools. We need a clear strategy to raise a generation of children who know how to navigate relationships in a way that is mutually respectful.

We CAN make the difference.

Homes where there is joy, where there is harmony, start with ourselves and with our family interactions.

And we have the potential to raise happier children who will create a happier, more peaceful world.

You are the cradle-rockers!

Decide to be one of the growing numbers of parents who have a strategy for a happier home, for relationships that model cooperation, communication and connection. Let’s rock the world! 

Let’s call for peace by living it. Let’s BE the difference that makes the difference.

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Last edited April 14th 2018

You look at the numbers on the weighing scale and groan,

‘How will I ever lose weight!’        You know, and I know, the festive season is hardly good for losing centimetres around your waist, or your rear end, but you are determined to get off to a good start with healthy eating in the New Year.

You may be wondering why I’m writing about weight loss when my work is as a Parenting expert. (I see myself as an expert on helping you to be the expert in  what your family needs to thrive). Last January I was asked to postpone a Parenting workshop.                                  

‘It seems people aren’t ready to get going till February’, the lady from the hosting organisation explained.

But the strange thing I noticed was that from the first week of January the car park was full when the evening slimming programme began. It seems everybody makes it a priority to get down to ideal weight when it’s the first of January. I was discussing this with a friend who responded,                                                      

‘But the best way to ensure that weight loss stays off could be to do something a Parenting course.’                                                                                                                          I raised my eyebrow questioningly.                                                                                    ‘Think about it,’ she said. ‘If things aren’t going well at home, we get stressed. And when we get stressed we comfort eat. And, bang, we’re back where we started, with the kilos piling on.’

Her response makes a lot of sense to me. If you are worried that your child is not coping at school, if you’re worried about bullying issues, if you’re stressed about your child’s behaviour, if you and your child aren’t communicating and are going through a stormy patch – it makes sense these things are stressing you. And there’s an old saying,

‘If Mum be happy we all be happy.’

If you as parent are stressed it tends to increase every family member’s stress, and so we all get caught in a downward spiral that easily skids out of control (weight included!) And if you think about it, our stress is largely related to anxiety; wondering how  we’ll cope. And Anxiety is something we can do something about, if we know how. Anxiety = Powerlessness x Uncertainty’ according to Chip Conley in ‘Emotional Equations’. So imagine if you knew how to increase your sense of Power to create a calmer home. Imagine if you could increase your sense of Certainty of what your children need to thrive. A greater sense of personal Power and a Certainty of what matters and what to do about it = Less Anxiety = Less Stress. And less stress is likely to result is becoming the calmer, happier, slimmer, fitter parent you really want to be.

This is only theory, but if it makes sense to you, why not discover the Koemba coaching approach to Parenting? This is a combination of my experience working with children and parents as a teacher and school principal, what I learnt though having children of my own, combined with Life Coaching skills and practical communication tools and key insights from Relationship theory.  Following on from the success of my ‘BEHAVE!’ Parenting course, my new ‘LISTEN!’ Parenting programme starts in Cork and also in Kilkenny this February. Want to know more? Take two minutes to watch our video clip, on the side panel. 

Sign up now to save €20 with the Early Bird option.

If you’re not lucky enough to be in those geographical regions, keep watching  our posts because we have exciting developments to launch new Parenting resources.

 

 

Last edited August 18th 2015

Val Mullally’s keynote on Tuesday evening for Fermoy Friendship week focused on ‘what we can learn from spiders’ re responding to bullying situations.  For key points of this discussion CLICK HERE.

Last edited March 22nd 2013

By request of the participants of our last webinar we are offering a follow-on: ‘When Adults Bully Kids; When Kids Bully Adults’.

Join Parent Coach and author Val Mullally MA in this webinar (online seminar) on Tuesday 6 November 2012, 8pm Dublin time.

CLICK HERE to find out more.

Last edited November 05th 2012

When Adults Bully Kids, When Kids Bully Adults

Join Parent Coach and author Val Mullally MA  in this webinar (online seminar) on Tuesday 6 November 2012, 8pm Dublin time, to gain some  useful insights into this upsetting subject, whether:

– your child has been involved in bullying behaviour

– has been bullied

– or is concerned about another child who is being bullied.

(This webinar will also be of benefit to professionals working with children / families). 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

What’s a webinar? 

A webinar is an online forum, where you can listen to the topic discussed. It’s also an opportunity to network with other participants across the world and voiuce your questions, concerns and observations about the topic. There is no charge for this webinar, and no special software is required. All you need to take part is to be able to connect with the internet. 

 

Last edited November 05th 2012

What to do when your child’s being bullied

For any parent, to see your child’s pain because other children are shutting him out of the group, or worse still, directly bullying your child, is heartbreaking and infuriating. You’re hurting to see your child hurting.

‘Shall I go and talk to the teacher or the principal? Or will that make it worse?’

And  to receive either an unsympathetic reaction or promises that things will change and nothing does only exacerbates your frustration.

Bullying is nothing new. Isn’t that what the classic fairytale ‘The Ugly Duckling’ is all about? School Anti-Bullying Policies wouldn’t have developed if there wasn’t a need for them. (Actually, I prefer to think of ‘Mutual Respect Policies’.)

So what does work, what is needed and how does a parent get that support for their child?

 

Phrases that are NOT helpful.

1. ‘It’s just a phase.’ / ‘He’ll get over it.’

Neither the bullying behaviour nor the pain caused by it is going to just disappear of its own accord. Your child needs and deserves support. I doubt if there’s any one of us that doesn’t remember a hurtful comment somewhere along the line. I’ve talked with fifty year old men still deeply hurt by the bullying they endured at school.

2. ‘He’s telling tales.’

What else is a child supposed to do! We can’t expect children to be able to handle the quagmire of bullying behaviours that would probably be legally labeled as harassment or abuse if they were adults. If the child is reporting something, he’s trying to let you know that something is not ok. Children need adult support to deal with these challenges.

3. ‘He needs to suck it up / get over it.’

To expect a child to suppress or deny his feelings is asking him to suppress or deny his very self. His feelings are his ‘inner barometer’ letting him know something is not okay. When parents and teachers are skilled in developing children’s Emotional Intelligence, they have a key tool to supporting children, especially in challenging situations.

 

What Can be Helpful in Bullying Situations

Here’s a few practical tips and insights:

 

1. YOU can make a difference – for everybody’s sake.

It makes sense that what you’re focused on is your need for your child to be treated the respectful way that any person deserves to be treated. Despite your justifiably angry feelings, your wise, courageous and sensitive handling of the situation can bring the change that’s needed for everyone. Until the issue is addressed at its roots, if it’s not your child being bullied, it’ll be someone else’s. Ask yourself  ‘What really matters here?’ for your own child and  also ask yourself  What really matters here?  re the long term community perspective.

 

2. Bullying is a community issue.

Bullying isn’t just about the children directly involved in the particular incident/s. We need to create healthy environments that nurture every child’s well-being. Mary Gordon’s ‘Roots of Empathy’ work is a great example of how, when a climate of caring and understanding is deliberately nurtured, children not only practise kindness but  they will also take a stand against bullying behaviour. The amazing thing about Mary Gordon’s work is that it’s not focused on bullying. It’s a programme where a baby and parent ‘visit’ the class each month through the school year. A trained facilitator helps the children to understand about the baby’s level of development, what the baby might be trying to ‘tell us’ and how we can give the baby what he needs. Children not only become compassionate and tuned in to what the little one needs – but this empathetic awareness ‘rubs off’ on one another.  they learn to care about one another’s feelings and experiences.

 

3. Choose to Keep Your Cool When You Have a Meeting with School Staff /Parents

Whilst it makes sense that you’re upset, do whatever helps you calm down before you go into the meeting so that you can cooly and coherently explain what has happened and discuss what’s needed. If you go in with guns blazing people will ‘dive for cover’ and not hear what you really want them to hear. If you feel your anger rising during the meeting, focus on your breathing, (Breathe in up to the count of 7, then out 8-9-10-11).  Remember that if you go into ‘attack’ mode, people will go into ‘defence’ mode. Choose to model the behaviour you’d like your child to receive.

4. Refer to ‘bullying behaviour’ rather than to ‘the bully’.

It’s easy, especially when we’re angry and upset if our own child has been hurt, physically or emotionally, to label the other child. But remember that it could have been your child doing the bullying.  Labelling the other child is likely to  cause the other parent or staff member  to react defensively. You can choose to respond in way that is likely to instigate cooperative interaction between the involved adults, to bring healthy change in the community.

Rather than saying, ‘He’s a bully,’ state:

  • the facts of what happened,
  • that you see this as bullying behaviour,
  • what you need for your child.

Then wait for their response.

If you use language that addresses the incident, rather than labels the other child, you’re likely to find it easier to achieve your desired outcome to create a happy environment for your child.

 

5. Focus on the favourable outcome you’d like to create.

Think ‘resolving the challenge’ rather than ‘punishing the perpetrator’.  And be prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that all the children in your community have the safe environment they deserve.

It makes sense that you’d like ‘that child to get a taste of his own medicine’. Over my years in teaching I’ve noticed that when children are hurting inside they’re likely to cause hurt on the outside. I’m not saying that that’s necessarily the ‘fault’ of the parent – it may be related to some other issue. What I’m saying is that the child who is bullying needs support too. And when you model compassion as well as justice you set a powerful example for your child.

One of the greatest challenges is to champion your child. In other words, rather than your child feeling a victim, give the type of support that he will come through this knowing that he’s a champion.

copyright©2012valmullally

For pdf of this CLICK HERE.

For print version CLICK HERE.

Val Mullally MA is an accredited Parent Coach and offers one-to-one coaching, as well as  workshops for parents and for staff to create healthier, happier environments.

Val offers training in various topics including:

– What’s Needed When Bullying Erupts: and how to champion your child

– The Greatest Key to Your Child’s Success in Life: developing children’s emotional intelligence

– Nurturing Children’s Self Esteem: from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive’

– How to Listen so Children will Talk – the unique Koemba -CONNECT model

 

 

 

 

 

Last edited April 03rd 2012

If you’re anything like I was when my children were young  – those words filled me with anxiety.

I needed my child to be happy at school so that I could feel okay about it.

So how to respond in a way that’s actually helpful?

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own anxiety that our response is actually about trying to calm our own anxiety – rather than responding to him.

Here’s some of the tactics we parents use in our attempt for ‘smooth entry’.

Parent: Unhelpful Tactic 1

We try to do is convince him he thinks /feels otherwise.

‘Of course you want to go to school – you love school.’

Parent Unhelpful Tactic 2

Change the subject.

‘Oh, look.  There’s Johnny.  Let’s go to the park together.’

Parent Unhelpful Tactic 3

Compare.

‘Your sister loves school.’

Parent Unhelpful Tactic 4

Try to reason.

‘You’ll be home in just a few hours.’

‘But last week you said you really wanted to go to school.’ (Maybe he did – but that was last week –not now!)

Parent  Unhelpful Tactic 5

Bribe.

‘Be a good boy and go to school and I’ll buy you an ice-cream on the way home.’

Parent Unhelpful Tactic 6

Belittle.

‘Big boys all go to school.’

These tactics aren’t helpful because:

* Your child’s not feeling heard or ‘feeling felt’.

(When his emotions aren’t calmed, he won’t be able to figure out how he can handle the challenge).

* When he experiences his parents ignoring what he’s experiencing, over time he might begin to doubt or ignore his own inner experiences /  thoughts and feelings.

* If he can’t share these worrying emotions with you because you ignore / divert him then  he might  start thinking that he can’t share  other concerns him with you.

* He might feel resentful towards a sibling (just because she likes school, why should that mean he does?)

* And if he figures that bribes get him rewards, you’re creating a situation where he’s more likely to complain about more things. (‘Mentality: ‘The more I complain the more ice-creams I get!’)

* Shaming a child might get the immediate result you want, but it means he’ll just be stifling his worries, rather than learning he’s got a supportive mum / dad who will listen and help him figure out what’s needed.

So what can be helpful?

* Be aware that, even if you’ve been careful about what you say, your child ‘reads’ you – your body language, tone of voice, muscle tension, facial expression. If he senses you’re tense/ worried/ anxious/ don’t want to ‘let your baby go’  – he’ll cooperate with you – and give you the behaviour that you are subconsciously  ‘asking him for’. This means making sure you’re settled and calm about the situation. (And sometimes one parent copes better at the school gate than the other parent – try to plan it that way if possible).

* Respond to what your child’s experiencing – not to your own needs.  It’s so easy for us to so want for it to be okay, that we’re trying to soothe him for our own sake, rather than being tuned in to what’s actually helpful for him.

* Respond to his words.‘ So you don’t think you want to go to school today. Tell me more.’ Often just having a chance to talk about it, knowing someone’s really listening, may be all he needs to do. And maybe there IS something that’s not okay, that he’ll need your support to sort out.

* Empathise. Notice his body language and facial expression as well as his words. Try to ‘get into his skin’ and feel what he’s feeling. Naming the emotion helps him to ‘name’, ‘claim’ and ‘tame’ the emotion.

‘You’re feeling sad/ worried about going to school?’ If you name the emotion, he’s more likely to have a sense that his experience is normal / understandable to others and this makes it easier for him to deal with overwhelming emotions.  He’s more likely to calm down when he ‘feels felt’.

Our culture tends to give a message ‘big boys don’t cry’ but our tears when we are upset are chemically different to the tears we cry when we peel an onion. Our ‘upset tears’ contain stress hormones – so when we’ve ‘had a good cry’, we feel better / more able to cope. Having said that, there’s a time  (Like going into the school gate) when tears most probably aren’t going to be helpful. Time to be listened to beforehand can reduce risk of tears at the gate.And avoid expressions like ‘Don’t cry.’ (All he’ll hear is ‘Cry’!)

Even young children can learn to use focusing on their breath to contain themselves. (Great at the dentist or doctor’s) Remind him of something that will be encouraging or reassuring. (‘I’ll be right here to meet you at home time.’)

* Some children battle to be away from the parent. Some token object to ‘keep safe for me’ or ‘so that you know I’m thinking of you’ that he can tuck into his pocket can give him something tangible to feel and reassure himself at times when he might need to calm himself during the day.

* Giving a choice can be helpful.  Perhaps as you get close to the school your child becomes increasingly clingy. ‘Would you like me to walk to the classroom door with you or do you want to say goodbye in the hall?’ Not going to school isn’t being offered as an option – but, by making a choice, your child doesn’t feel powerless in the situation

*  Daily transition times – home to school – can be stressful. Do what you can to minimize stress, like having everything ready beforehand, know where the car keys are, leaving five minutes extra early. A calm start to the day can make all the difference.

*  Keeping still (comparatively) and concentrating and cooperating all morning is stressful for young children. Plan for a healthy breakfast to start the day and an opportunity to work off a bit of energy. (Can you walk to school?)  Likewise, time to work off energy on returning home is needed.

In my years as school teacher/ principal I found that Monday morning blues after the first weekend is very common, even with some children who started school happily for the first few days. Forewarned is forearmed.  Be extra aware of what might be needed after the weekend so that you can respond helpfully before meltdown happens!

I’d love to hear your experiences.

Happy schooling!

 

 

Last edited September 03rd 2012

We watch the news and wonder how an educated country like England can erupt into such chaos.

What’s it all about?

They might have captured images on CCTV that will lead to arrests – and then what?

It’s like a doctor who treats only the symptoms without dealing with the root cause of the dis-ease.

It’s no good treating dysentery without creating clean water supplies and proper sanitation.

So what’s needed to clean up the current conflict in Britain?

 

If all conflict is a protest at the disconnection, what’s the disconnection and how can it be repaired?

Disconnection from self?

(Ironically, if regular life for a young man feels like ‘walking dead’ – can you imagine the sense of ‘aliveness’ that being involved in this type of trouble can arouse?)

Every image I saw last night of the violence was of young males.

Perhaps we’ve deprived them of environments where they can test their strengths and learn new skills – that they’re seeking some way of reconnecting with the masculine?

What does a healthy young male with testosterone pumping in his veins do, if he’s not given healthy channels of outlet?

Today is the eighteenth birthday of a young friend. There are three sons in the family, local farming lads – strong, talented, intelligent and kind, with two parents committed to their healthy upbringing.

I cannot even imagine these young men being involved in this sort of terrorizing behaviour and vandalism.      

They’re being given the environment for their masculine energy to be something they’re proud of – and something that contributes to community.

So in the areas where young men are not so fortunate, where are the ruptures in connection?

Disconnection from a sense of what makes life meaningful?

Disconnection from a caring, connected  community?

Disconnection from family?

And in particular, perhaps disconnection from healthy masculine role models?

In South Africa a number of years ago, the rangers in one of the large Game reserves were finding mutilated rhino. The creatures were so horribly damaged that the first thought was that this horrific vandalism had been done by poachers. Then they realized that this was not the cause, as the valuable horns had not been removed.

They discovered that the chaos had been caused by marauding ‘teenage’ elephant bulls. Over the previous years, the senior males in the herd had been eliminated by the rangers, as a means of population control. The result was that without the ‘big guys’ to model appropriate behaviour and keep the discipline, the young males went wild.

It’s an interesting tale to reflect upon at this time.

I’m not in any way condoning the behaviour –but all behaviour makes sense.

In my work as a Parent Coach I have repeatedly found that parents will book sessions to see me because of a ‘problem child’ and they are feeling at a loss as how to cope with the behaviour.

As the sessions progress, the issues below the surface begin to emerge. As parents discover how to meaningfully communicate and deal with what’s really causing the dis-ease, the child’s challenging behaviour invariably melts away. It’s not so much that problems are solved – but that they dissolve, once the parents begin to implement change that creates more enjoyable and fulfilling family life for everyone (parents included!)

The interesting thing is that, in retrospect, the parents can see that the challenging behaviour has proved to be a gift – so that they as parents could figure out what really matters and what they are going to do about it to create the home they really want.

An environment for young people to thrive.

The family is the building block for society.

When we create healthy family, we create healthy society.

This isn’t just parents’ responsibility – but starting where we are is the best place to start.

We can easily point the finger at these perpetrators – but it’s likely that such anti-social behaviour will continue to break out, like dysentery, unless we deal with the root problems.

African proverb:

“If young men aren’t initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.”
(Tweeted by  @alantlwilson Bishop Alan Wilson)

 

 

 

Last edited July 14th 2012