Breast Feeding or Formula Feeding, What ‘should’ I do?

The whole breast feeding debate is often a Mums first introduction to the world of worrisome decisions that are about to land on their plates, and this one is particularly political and harshly debated.

Political Stances

One of the problems with any debate where people take a ‘stance’ is that the stronger they take their stance, the stronger the opposition takes the opposite stance.  To be honest, I do wonder how much the Formula companies created the NCT (National Childbirth Trust), and whether the NCT’s then strong stance has created the continued focus on formula feeding in new mums.  If possible, attempt to ignore any of the politics and focus on your family!

How Did I Tackle It?

To be honest, I had no idea whether I would manage it.  I decided to go for a goal set approach, of aiming for 6 weeks (people often say, if you can possibly do this then at least it is a ‘good start’ for baby – it gets a lot easier and less painful after this), then 6 months (WHO minimum recommended time), then 1 year, then 2 years (WHO recommended), expecting to finish before 4 years (The world wide average duration of breast feeding).  I was unlucky in that I had to stay in hospital for a few extra days after Max was born as the doctors were worried I might have the same blood problems as my Mum.  But this meant that I was lucky to encounter 2 breast feeding teachers, who were really helpful.  Plus, I didn’t have a caesarian or long traumatic birth, which appears to make it much more difficult for Mums to be able to breast feed.  The other advantage I had was that I’m good at using the internet, so could find info on the fact that you have to eat and drink well in order to produce milk.  (Beware parenting techniques that suggest anything other than feeding on demand, as that can affect your supply).

So How to Go About Making the Decision?

1) Will it work for you?

Breast feeding is incredibly easy once you are past the first few weeks.  I rather think that although it is sold as being best for baby, and very ‘earth mother’, it is actually brilliant for rather lazy Mums like me.  It worked for me, because I never had to worry about Max when he was sick, as it is much easier to BF them than give them formula when their tummies are upset.  You don’t have to worry about their weight, or constipation (horrid to see in a new baby, bless them).  There’s no getting up to make bottles at night, which would wake me up, and I’m not good at falling back to sleep.  I didn’t need to prepare anything to go out, and just needed to buy some pretty scarves.  Plus the nappies didn’t pong as bad as formula nappies.  It also meant lots of bonding and sitting on a sofa, and yummy hormones being released, which I probably needed after a rather stressful and sad pregnancy (we moved house, my Mum died, and my husband was made redundant when Max was 6 weeks).  So in all honesty, it was all about me, having the most relaxed time, and reducing the worries!

Would any of those things work for you?  Write down everything that you think will and won’t work for you, and then double check some of your assumptions in step 3.

2) Will it work for family?

Undoubtedly the scientific research is that ideally it’s best for your baby, but you are not going to ruin your baby for life by formula feeding them, even if they do get digestive or weight problems, it’s still not a ‘ruined’ life.  If you would love to feed or love not to feed, then the key here is to explain it to your partner in a way that makes sense to them, not in the way that makes sense to you!  So if your partner is worried about sharing your breasts, then pop to step 3, and find the things that will help him understand.  Perhaps there is a compromise?  Does your partner want you to feed and you don’t?  In that case, you need to explain it to them in a way that they will hear and understand.  A stressed mummy will cause greater problems for baby, than what they are fed on, so you are extremely important in the equation.

3) What Are You Worrying About?

There are some standard worries (read step 4 for some answers to the more scientific or physical ones) e.g.

– People will hate me feeding in public – actually I never encountered a problem, or if I did, I didn’t notice it.  I was mainly in coffee shops with lots of Mums and family restaurants.  If you are worried about this, think about this – do those people really matter?  Does it really matter if they stare at you?  I promise you, that whatever you do in life, only 50% of the world will agree with you or like it.  The worst thing that can happen is that they ask you to leave, which you could refuse to do!

– My partner will feel left out – if you can explain to him that it’s only a short time and will make their lives easier (if that is of value to them), then it may set their worries at rest.  Explain that your boobs will be back for them at some point!

– It’s yukky, because boobs are for sex – actually no, that’s a misunderstanding, as breasts were clearly made for making milk, as they are in animals.  What are you worried about?  That you might get turned on (extremely unlikely!!!)?  That your child will always remember your breasts (I’ve not heard of mentally scared children with this problem, and on average children are fed to 4yrs old around the world, so they must remember).  What is it?  Face your fear, and find out what it actually is based upon.

– I’m a bad mother if I don’t breast-feed – rubbish!  We are all ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mothers.  None of us do everything that we possibly could, and if we did, we would be so self-righteous and martyred, that no Child would want us!  Be a contented Mum, that is what is most important to baby and make a plan for tackling the downsides.  For example, keep a close eye on constipation, and get advice about it.  Make sure that baby gets held for long times, maybe use a sling.  Make eye contact with baby, and just cuddle them for hours on the sofa.

4) Have you read up about it?

I found this brilliant news article today, which summarises a great deal of the scientific research into breast feeding: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1201285/Sorry-breast-IS-best-As-leading-scientist-questions-benefits-mother-sorts-myths-facts.html

Check all your assumptions, because they may actually be incorrect.

5) Making the decision

Right, now you have all the information.  What I would like you to do is list all the Pro’s and Con’s (good & bad things) on a piece of paper.  It’s Ok if you keep coming back and it takes you a couple of days.  The key to this exercise is to keep going until you have AS MANY Pro’s as Con’s!  AS MANY.  It is only then that you can be sure that you are seeing it clearly.  You may wonder then, how to make the decision.  The point is that at this stage, you will see that one option works for you and the family better, and kind of ‘sparkles’.  You are aware of the opposite side to the story and can prepare for it, but your heart, feels that you would prefer this option.  It’s not logic of the head, or emotion/fear of the gut, but a heart centered feeling of sureness.  If you don’t feel sure, then keep going with the list, there is something that you haven’t included.

Conclusion

You are looking to be sure that you are informed, have cleared out the worry’s about it, and that the solution has been explained to your family in a way that works for them, and that the decision works for you and baby.

The above process is based upon the ‘Fun creation equation’, so you might like to check out my other blogs on that.  Obviously though, I’ve only brushed the surface of what can worry some Mums, or the problems of communicating with a partner.  So feel free to either pop a comment here for further clarification or post a question in the discussions on my facebook fan page.

You might want to check out my blog on why Breast Feeding isn’t always possible, to help reduce your guilt <click here>

Feeling Disempowered?

Do You Sometimes Feel Disempowered?

It’s easy as a Mum to feel disempowered. Maybe you’re not quite as fit as you once were, or don’t go out socially as much, or don’t get as much ‘quality’ time with your other half. Perhaps you are worried that you are not bringing in as much money because you are a SAHM or working part-time, or you feel that your work has been affected. Are you unsure about what makes up ‘You’ and feel that your brain has become sluggish?

It’s important to remember that how we feel is just a reaction to a thought that went through our head, which then led our body to release chemicals to create a corresponding emotional feeling. Put simply, how you see yourself, will affect how you feel about yourself.

Step 1 – Kick the Habit!

If you would like to kick the habit, then firstly you need to stop feeling guilty for not feeling fab and work out what you are getting from it. Did you know that we get something out of feeling rubbish?! We do! Sometimes, it’s just nice to whinge. Sometimes it helps us fit in with other people who are also whinging. It gets us attention and care from people. It can just feel good to wallow a bit! Do you need some time out from being capable, which being a bit ‘down’ can give you? Are you always ‘nice’ to people and feeling drained or full of resentment or unappreciated? Sit down with a nice cuppa or glass of wine and have a think about what you are getting from it. Don’t waste time thinking that you aren’t, because I promise you that you wouldn’t be doing it, if you were’nt getting something!

Step 2 – Find Where you are Fab!

Now, have a look at yourself and find out where you are brilliant, skilled, and very good at what you do. Is it making sure the children are clothed & fed? (You get added brownie points for organic, home cooked!). Can you make a fabulous glittering picture? Are you patient when playing hide & seek? Do you do the cleaning, ironing, cooking, gardening and keeping the house together? Are you a great friend? Do you manage to live within a budget? What do other people say about you?

Check out my other blog ‘Pregnant & Feeling Disempowered’, written for pregnant women, but it will work for you too, to get ideas about different areas of life where you are wonderful:

Pregnant and Feeling Disempowered?

Mums often feel disempowered, especially when pregnant.  I’m amazed how quickly it has hit me again, being only a couple of month’s pregnant.

The key to empowerment/disempowerment, is to understand that it is all in the mind!  But how ever imaginary, it can have a drastic effect on your life.  I’m going to concentrate on being pregnant in particular for this post, however the same holds true for any situation, and I’ll write again about it in more depth.

I was shocked first time round by how disempowered I suddenly felt when I became pregnant.  Of course one of the problems can be that our hormones go a bit haywire, so any ‘normal’ worries are also accentuated.  Let’s look at the 7 areas of life and why it happens …

Spiritual – this is all about knowing where you are going and what your greater purpose is in life.  Now if you are worried at all about your options being limited, then you are bound to worry about this.

Mental – well, the brain just goes to jelly doesn’t it!  I’ve just got back from attempting to pick up pills at my homeopath, to find they were shut – I thought I heard open from 10am-1pm, infact they aren’t open until 1pm!

Financial – it is true that it is very likely that our financial health will be affected by becoming pregnant.  It is bound to affect our earning capability, at a minimum for 2 months, but for most of us it could be years.  Plus there is the expense of having a baby/toddler/child/teenager!

Vocational – the ideal appears to be able to work part-time.  But there are many Mums who find their type of job incompatible with becoming a Mum, so have to take a career break, or alternatively are not able to take time off, so they have to work full-time.  It’s true that many workplaces view Mums as unreliable, because we have to look after our kids when they are sick, and we can’t do the long hours we might have done before.

Social – this was the biggest shocker to me when I first became pregnant!  I found myself treated almost as if I didn’t exist, and often totally ignored.  In particular, there was the male nurse telling me that I wasn’t experiencing contractions, but braxton hicks – I was 3 cms dilated!!!

Physical – it’s the whale comparison that is the problem!  First we just feel fat, then there is the pregnant like on the TV shows stage, and then there is the ‘my god I didn’t know it was possible to get so huge’ stage!  There’s the additional exhaustion and so called morning sickness, and the fact that there is a baby in our tummies sucking everything good out of our food for themselves!  So it’s not difficult to see why we take it badly!

Family/Relationships – Our relationship may suffer a bit if we are worried about Sex.  But apart from that, here is the one good piece of news, as family becomes much more important, so we do tend to gain in our perceived power here.  Although, it is obviously more difficult for single Mums etc.

Put all that together, and we can feel quite rubbish about being pregnant!  If you let it get you down too much, then other people will pick up on it as well.  They feel it subconsciously, but it then affects the way that they treat us.  For example, if your boss doesn’t feel that you value yourself, they may then think that they shouldn’t either.  Plus if you feel unimportant, then people are more likely to ignore you.  In the worst cases, this is one of the reasons for father’s having affairs whilst their wife is pregnant, because their power structure has changed so dramatically.  I’m not blaming either the wife or husband for this, it kind of creeps up on the father without them expecting it, or understanding how come they are less attracted to their wives.  Meanwhile the fact that it is so taboo to be unfaithful to a pregnant woman, makes them ignore the potential for it, and get caught unawares.  So, don’t let yourself feel disempowered, because you don’t need to!

Here’s a beginning view of why you are a powerful, fantastic woman!

Spiritual – the great thing about kids, is that they give you certainty of what you will be doing.  Maybe it’s unclear as to how soon you will be back on track for something else.  But you can be sure that each morning, you will know what you have to do – mainly attempt to get dressed, feed the baby, sort out the rest of the family if there is more, change nappies, feed the baby, and then go back to bed.  You will have an incredibly clear purpose for a period of time.

Mental – whilst forgetting the simple things that we always remembered before, like petrol, keys, coats etc, our bodies are building a new brain.  That brain is learning to beat a heart, move fingers & toes and do all sorts of things.  Plus our brains are focussed on new things – scans, weeks, folic acid.

Financial – instead of thinking of money as an exact amount, think of it as the amount of value in your life.  If you can sit down and look sensibly at your budget & needs, then you can actually increase the amount of value in your life.  You wont need the same amount of money, because things change.  (Check out my free podcast on money and values on my website http://www.MummyWhisperer.com).  You can feel rich without money, or without the same amount of money.  Also, remember, even if you decide to be a stay at home mum, you are actually saving money.  I saw an article recently that put the price of a SAHM at £35k, and to be honest I think that is low!  Try listing what you are worth!

Vocational – think of the project management & multi-tasking skills that you have gained as a Mum!  Plus a company could view Mums as their most loyal and steady employees, because they do tend to be more grateful for the opportunity to work, especially part-time.  For many mums, it actually creates a new career, which is a scary, but exciting option.  Realistically, all sorts of things can go wrong in a Man’s career as well, so they may have to take a step back at some point.  Perhaps, it isn’t the drawback that we think it is.

Social – ok, so this might seem a bit cheeky, but you need to learn the power of the ‘pregnant card’.  This requires not holding back & going for full on pregnant tantrums – they won’t ignore a CRYING pregnant woman!  It got members of my family into action following the death of my Mum, and got me seen by a midwife when I knew I was in labour ;o)  It’ll get you a seat, which you need on a train/bus – it’s not a weakness, it’s a sensible thing to do, to take care of yourself & the family.  Remember, you are creating the new society, we have the power in the end!

Physical – there are women who love being pregnant, so it is totally possible!  The pregnant form was the earliest goddess symbol, and is inherent as a picture of growth and potential.  If you encounter people who find it unattractive, remember, it is not because of you, but something to do with their upbringing, because it is not ‘normal’ to dislike it (i.e. they have some ‘issues’!).  Check out the books that show you what you are growing each week.  Enjoying aqua-natal classes, or yoga for mums and learn about this new body (with great boobs!), that you have got.  It will connect you to something primeval that you didn’t have before, and not everyone is able to do it, so that makes you special.  Plus, your baby will think that you are beautiful.  Max is 3.5yrs old and tells me every morning that I’m beautiful, despite the muffin top & cellulite ;o)

Family/Relationships – they do take time to adjust and grow, but be patient and your family will blossom over the coming year.  This is a time for you to create your own family, and you are the heart of it.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a partner, or grand-parents.  People will arrive to fill those boots, and you will still create the family that works for you.

So now you have got some ideas, think about each area of life and look at what you have got, gained, and the value that you bring because you are pregnant.  Keep listing things until you realise that you are truly powerful in all areas.  Because you are. Rose Kennedy’s mission was to create a family of world leaders, and she did that with the kennedy boys.  You are about to create the future.  I may have learnt loads about personal development, but Max was my greatest teacher in my life, and if you go into it feeling empowered, rather than worrisome, you will be able to make the most of the opportunities your child is offering you.

Be you, the beautiful you xxxx

Bullying Pt11 – More Insights into the Bully

This weekend, I met a ‘bully’ and gained even more insights into their psychology.  I think that the important thing to remember is that each person and situation is unique, and to remember the concept of balance.

What are they balancing out within their family dynamic?

What are they balancing out within themselves?

What are they balancing out within the social/school/work dynamic?

What reaction are they tending to get?  Is it the same or different in the alternative situations?

 

For instance, I talked in a previous blog about a child, who was balancing out her mum’s very peace loving nature, because in a family there will always be a balance of war/peace or gentleness/aggression.  In her situation, she was gaining her Mum learning to get in touch with her tougher side, in order to give that little girl clearer boundaries.  She was not only going to gain from the boundaries, but also from a stronger Mummy who would learn to take care of herself more.  Here, the family can just redress the balance of gentleness/aggression and learn to love their un-peaceful sides, to bring the family back into balance.

 

But you can also get a child who has bullied because they are ‘bullied’ at home or at school.  So it comes from the fact that they are feeling very powerless in one area and are wanting to redress the balance and regain the power.  Here, if the ‘bullying’ is at home and the family can be shown how to regain control using calmness, then the child’s need to bully will reduce.  If the bullying is at school, then the child can be taught how they are wonderful, and given more self-belief, so that they no longer feel a lack of power.

 

In a social or work situation, they will be balancing out that the ‘bullied’ is getting loads of support from elsewhere.  This was certainly the situation for me one evening this weekend.  I suspect it was infuriating for the ‘bully’ who expected to walk into the social situation with a position of power, to find me already nicely ensconced.  Meanwhile, I had assumed that the evening would go as other’s had done, so my protective boundaries were down, and I was unprepared for the situation.  However, I gained from it, some practice into what my lovely PR girl calls a ‘rat trap’, which was a much better way to do it, than in front of a journalist, plus I didn’t handle it as well as I might if I’d been prepared, but I did OK, so I came out looking alright from it, which is important to me because it was the easiest way to prove to some of the other people there, that they will be safe in working with me in the future.

 

So what does a ‘bully’ gain when someone stands up to them?  They are getting a reminder to bring themselves down a notch or two.  If they learn the lesson, it makes them a great deal more attractive to other people, because being arrogant is not a characteristic which tends to be popular.  Of course, some are generally just bored, because they have an easy life of it elsewhere, so they are actually looking for a bit of excitement when they upset the ‘bullied’ and hence get a good argument going.  So what they are getting from it, is very much to do with the type of reaction that they get.

 

When people let the ‘bully’ get away with it, then they are gaining power, and improving their self-worth.  If they have gained a following, which often happens at school, then they will then continue with the tactic in order to maintain their position and feeling of belongingness.  I remember a girl at school who would pick on me repeatedly.  But then one day her best friend decided to become best friends with my best friend (girls!!).  So they came to me and this girl and asked us if we would be best friends in order to make sure that we were not alone, and we duly complied!  It totally worked, she got the same degree of belonging by being my friend, as she had from picking on me!

The 6 Step Flexible Family Solution

I have created the 6 step Flexible Family Solution as an adaptable process that I can teach to Mums to deal with their unique families and ever changing daily challenges.

There are 6 steps:

1) Step 1 is for the Mum to learn what her needs are

2) Step 2 is to learn what her Family’s needs are

3) Step 3 is to clear the brain noise from the Mum’s head

4) Step 4 is to add a Reality Check

5) Step 5 is a Dash of Knowledge.

6) Step 6 is to learn to Appreciate life as it is

Step 1 – The Mum’s Needs/Values

The reason why it is so important for a Mum to understand herself and what makes her tick, is because that is the only way that she can be sure of maintaining a balance in her life and keeping herself going as well as the family.  When we are really tired from a tough time, there is only a short amount of time available to pick ourselves up.  So if we know what makes us tick, then we can find something to re-energise ourselves quickly.  Also, you can use that knowledge to push yourself to do the things you hate doing or motivate you to do what you would like to do, by linking what you know you love, to doing the tasks.  This improves our energy levels, because hating something, makes it a lot harder to achieve!  Whereas, if you have linked it to something you love, you’ll be much more up for it.  Most importantly, if you know what makes you tick, you’ll know how to balance your needs & the family’s needs, rather than putting the family first all the time (which tends to backfire big-time).

Step 2 – The Family’s Needs

This helps you to understand the difference between what they ‘Need’ for their basic survival versus ‘Want’, which is unnecessary.  Plus that being ‘Caring’ is not just doing things for people, but doing things that they would actually like you to do!  You’ll be able to negotiate more effectively with your family about those tricky things that you need them to do, as you’ll have learnt how to speak in their ‘language’, rather than your own, which could be entirely foreign to them.  Plus you’ll learn how to tackle those Worry and To Do Lists.

Step 3 – Clear Out The Brain Noise

Brain noise is all the fear, guilt, worry, shame, blame which fills up our brains and makes it difficult to think straight.  You learn how to tackle those very dangerous ‘Should’s about what life should be like and we should be like and break those fantasies that make us miserable.  We also look at tackling the beginnings of depression or feeling down (although for anyone in the depths of full blown PND, more assistance would be required).

Step 4 – Reality Check

It’s important to learn to compare yourself and your family fairly with others, rather than thinking that you are worse or better.  Our home circumstances might not be what society considers as ‘ideal’, but we can make them work for us, rather than punish ourselves for the way that it is.

Step 5 – Knowledge

Finishing off is a dash of knowledge because a little bit of knowledge is always important to give you some ideas for tackling the challenges and because you now understand your family & yourself, you can be much clearer on which options work for you.

Step 6 – Appreciate Life

It’s old fashioned, but counting our blessings has been proved to be great for our health and our day to day well being.  Learning to appreciate life as it is, adds tremendous relief and enjoyment to our lives.

We put all 6 steps in a bowl and mix in with a simple decision making process, and you have a reliable, achievable and sustainable way of tackling the daily challenges that Mums face and making those complicated decisions that we often feel so overwhelmed by.

Bullying Pt9 – Everyone Is a Bully

Oooh, that’s a challenging title.  But bear with me.

Some has just contacted me to say that ‘Once a bully always a bully and once a bullied always a bullied’, which is what prompted me to write this post, which I’ve been meaning to get around to for ages.  There is an ounce of truth in the quote that I was sent, but with a slight difference, which is:

Everyone is a BULLY.  

Everyone gets BULLIED.  

ALL the time.  

AS much as each other.  

Just in DIFFERENT ways/places.

 

Now that might be a bit challenging, but bear with me and I will explain myself!

The reason that I’m saying this, is because if you really want to transform the bullying in yours/your child’s life, then we need to start with a true understanding of the situation.  From there, we can make a real change.  After all, how depressing would it be if it was really true that you were labelled as either bully/bullied from the start and that was how the rest of your life was going to be.  Things would be looking pretty miserable for me, that’s for sure.

 

Step 1: Define what bullying means to you

Surprisingly you will find that it is different for different people.  E.g. general picking on to making someone feel unconfident/unhappy (my experience of school), name calling, physically beating, scareing someone (this is what happened to my little boy), taking things from them, ignoring them, making them do things they don’t want to do – oh the list is endless.

 

Step 2: Now have a look for where you have done that definition elsewhere

It’s quite likely that if you were bullied at school, there were at least a couple of incidents where you also ‘bullied’ (see your definition above), or stood by and let it happen to someone else.  But keep looking in different places in your life, either then or now.  For example, work, spiritual views, finances, physical health, social networks, family/relationships.  Plus, it might not have been to the same extent or focussed at just one child, it might be that it was lots of little times.

In my life now I totally do that!  I definitely don’t let Curly Headed Boy do what he wants to do all the time, that’s when he says I’m being ‘rude or naughty’!  There are times with my clients, that I have to initially help them to see someone painful before we can move on.  There are other times that my clients are a bit full of themselves and not appreciating their lives/relationships/work and my job is to bring more love of their life back, which requires me showing them how great those things are, and that maybe they are not the as much ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ as they think; you know we all need to be brought down a peg or too sometimes, for our own health!  You’ll have taken promotions and jobs away from people, and affected the financial health of your family by deciding what could/couldn’t be afforded.  There will be people that you didn’t invite around because you were not keen on their views.  Do you see, how it goes?

It’s not that you had the intention of bullying someone.  It’s just that they saw something that you did in a specific way, and therefore felt a certain way about it.

 

Step 3: There is an equal amount

If bullying or being bullied has been an issue for you or your child, then take a week or so with a big notebook and write down all the times that you/they have felt like a bully or like they are being bullied.

Admittedly the ‘bullying’ may always be coming/going to a particular person in a very focussed way.  Whereas the balance/opposite could be coming/going to many different people in many different places.  But if you can start to understand that it is always there, and always will be, then we can really help to transform it in your lives.

Remember at the beginning I said that bullying is always there.  BUT you can change the way it shows up in your life or your kids life.  That’s what I’m looking for with my kids.  A balance of both me and my husband bullying him at home, so that it isn’t purely the ‘job’ of one person to keep him on the straight and narrow and give him boundaries.  Plus a balance at nursery/school which doesn’t come from a particular child, but is generally mixed around all the children when they are a bit grumpy.

 

This is something that is achievable.

Plus it doesn’t make anyone powerless or a victim.

Plus once you learn it, it will stay with you, so it is sustainable.

So even if it is a little tricky to get your head around, I’d love it if you would have a go and let me know how you do.

 

Bullying Pt 8 – Why Bully?

Understanding why a child bully’s and helping them is much more complicated in my view than the bullied, but still possible.

As I’ve mentioned before, they are balancing out the support/challenge (ease/difficulty) in the bullied child’s life.  However, the question is, why them, why are they balancing it out, rather than someone else?  What is the balance of support/challenge in the bully’s life?

The first hint, is in what they gain from it, which is the opposite to the bullied child.  The bullied child is being taught to stand up for themselves in some way. The bully is being taught to be more humble and understand how other people feel.

We all bully in some way, but the question is, what leads them to be bullying so extremely with the kids at school.  Where they bullied themselves, so they are getting a view of the ‘other side’?  We all do this, criticize someone for doing something and then end up finding ourselves doing it somehow.

Plus of course, they maybe unaware of the bullying and see it totally differently.  When I went back to several school reunions, (the last one being 20yrs – how scary!), the ‘bullies’ met me with what appeared to be really genuine pleasure.  They were remembering the times that we had got on, whereas I had remembered the times when I had been upset.  Looked at objectively, they couldn’t possibly have been bullying me 24hrs a day.

Then there is the very aggressive child with the really gentle and ‘nice’ parent.  The parent is repressing all their anger and frustration, and the child tends to display it instead.  When the parent is stronger with the child, giving them boundaries and clarity, then the child calms down.  This is the balance of aggression within the family.  I remember a really lovely girl looking at me desperately as her daughter smacked Curly Headed Boy over the head again, and in her sweet quiet voice saying ‘I just don’t understand why she does that’.  The answer was that the Mum didn’t like upsetting people, so she didn’t express her true feelings and the daughter was attempting to push her to do so.

Or is one or both of the parents aggressive with them, so they feel powerless at home and are trying to feel in control of at least one part of their lives?  It would be natural to then copy their parents habits wouldn’t it.

Then look at what the bully is attempting to achieve?  Is it to have Freedom/Choice, Power/Recognition, Love/Belonging or Fun/Progress (Thes are 4 psychological needs according to Dr William Glasser’s Choice Therapy).  What do they think that they are going to get out of it, and are there other ways for them to get it that we could teach them?

For example, if they want freedom/choice, then they are feeling that they don’t have enough of that elsewhere, maybe they have a very domineering parent, who could do with stepping back a bit?

Or if they would like more Power/Recognition, then maybe then need to feel useful and be given a role and responsibility.  Are they picking on the other child because they are being reminded of their own powerlessness?

If it is to do with Love/Belonging, are they concerned that they are not loved, in which case, is there a way to help them to feel more confident?

If they are getting enjoyment out of it, maybe they need to understand the consequences and have their fun reduced by some kind of punishment, with additional encouragement and ideas of alternative ways to have fun, so they aren’t bored any more.

Punishment alone is unlikely to help, as it won’t address the child’s problems.  I’m not say don’t punish, it depends on the situation and scenario.  But what is more important is to address their perception of where they have Freedom/Power/Love/Fun and looking at any imbalances at home that can be addressed in the support/challenge balance.

Bullying Pt7 – What is ‘Support’ and ‘Challenge’

So when I say that there will always be a balance of ‘Support’ and ‘Challenge’ and people liking or not liking you in life, almost as though there are a set of scales being tipped both way, then what do I mean?

 

People Liking or Not Liking You

People will like you some days and not like you others.

Often, it’s mild, in the form of agreeing or not agreeing with you, which is purely down to wether they see you as agreeing with what they value or not.  For instance, there is a TV presenter of a UK program called ‘Loose Women’.  Normally, I’m really not keen.  But she just said something I agree with, so today she seems much more likeable!  Whereas, there is another of their presenters, who I normally love, who has just said something totally daft in the press (according to my limited opinion!), so I’m less keen on her today.

Like and not like is transitory.  It’s not even really real.  Remember, we tend to like people despite their downsides and dislike them despite their nice bits.  That’s just who we are!

Just because someone doesn’t like what we just said, or our dress sense, or our choice of job, doesn’t mean that they won’t want to spend time with us as a mate.  If they do decide that we mis-match their values enough for them to not like us and not want to spend time with us, it just means that we will match someone else’s, so we’ll be friends with someone else instead.

 

Support and Challenge

So feeling liked is supportive, i.e. we like it and feeling disliked is challenging, i.e. we don’t like it (unless you are a bit contrary!).

Supportive things are:  Getting your own way, doing what you want to do, being told you are fabulous, being bought want you want, eating & drinking when & what you want, going to bed when you want, seeing / doing what you want, feeling protected and taken care of.

Challenging things are: Having to wait for what you want, being told you can’t have it, being told what to do or where to go, being told off, responsibilities, duties, being independent, having to buy your own things.

I bet you can already see that there are downsides to the supportive stuff, if over done, because you’ll end up with a spoilt precocious immature brat.  Plus there are benefits to the challenges, because you get a confident, self-reliant child with understandings of boundaries.  However, too much challenge and too little child and the child is over-stressed, so what you are looking for is a nice mixture of the two.

Keep an eye on the scales of ‘support’ and ‘challenge’ in your child’s life.  The aim is for a balance at home and at school, with young and old, and girls and boys, rather than for one location to totally balance out the other.

Bullying Pt 5 – Is there too much Like in your life?

So this post follows on from the previous one about the fact that only 50% of the world likes you at any one time!

I was attempting to look at my life as a child, bullied from the moment I entered school at 4.5, right up to when I left after A levels.

My mother was clearly over-involved in my life, and my father was hardly around, especially when I was younger and he wasn’t getting in until way after my bed time.

However, it’s not like I was spoilt, as both had considerable health issues and alcohol problems as well.  So when I was looking at the balance of support and challenge, I wasn’t so sure it explained howcome I was bullied at school.

Aha, but then the penny dropped.  Because my parents were very much older than was ‘normal’ then, I didn’t get much chance to play with kids my own age until I went to school, so I lacked social skills and hadn’t been taught the tougher social skills of dealing with people being nasty.

Plus I was very ‘responsible’ as a young carer.  So when adults or teachers came across me, they thought I was adorable, all curly haired, smiley and polite.

Therefore, when you look at the balance of the fact that not everyone in life is going to love you, it was pretty much a sure thing that I would be bullied at school.  In fact I remember that only 1 teacher in my whole school time disliked me, which was when I was doing my A levels.

Of course, because I was bullied from so early on, I gradually took on the persona of a wimp as well.  Which also attracts bullying, because it is attempting to help you to stand up for yourself, which I totally needed to do both at home and at school – I was always thinking of other people too much.

Also, although to me it felt that I was bullied ‘all the time’, actually it wasn’t all the time, and many of the kids that bullied me, would now remember being friends with me and being fond of me.  For them it would have just been every now and again that they succumbed to social pressures to have a go at me.

So this is why those ‘sunny’ little children get bullied at school.  The bullies are an extreme challenge, to balance out all the fact that everyone else thinks of them as so wonderful and to teach them how to deal with nasty people and grow a tougher skin.  (I was just a bit of a slow learner when it came to that!).

Bullying Pt 4 – We Can’t Be Liked By Everyone

Lots of us are very driven by what people outside of us think, and so it is important to us that we are liked.

Other people are totally aware of their own value, and therefore only worry about what they think about themselves.

The ideal is a bit of both, because the internally focussed people can lack social skills, and the externally focussed people can become paranoid and deeply upset when people don’t like them.

 

The problem for us people who care about what the world thinks, is that it is NOT possible for the whole world to like us.  Think of people like Robbie Williams, tormented by the critics, because he wants everyone to love him.  An extreme example is people who don’t understand that we can love multiple people, so they manipulate in order to attempt to be ‘the most loved’.  So we are attempting to have something which is impossible, hence it’s likely to make us very stressed!

 

My little boy said to me the other day ‘but not everyone loves me like you do’, bless him.  He is very concerned by the inconsistency of his friends and that not everyone loves him.  So it is my task over the coming weeks to point out to him that somedays he doesn’t like kids either, and that it can be great for them, because it gives them a chance to play with other kids.  Plus, that when kids/people do like him, it really suits him that those particular people do, versus other people who could have done.  For example, it might give him a chance to play with one of the little boys, rather than get more bruises from playing with the boys who are a year older than him all the time.  So life isn’t boring, it’s different and varied.  Plus if one of the kids doesn’t like you, it means that others will, because you are connected by the fact that they aren’t liked by them either.

 

So, to set your child’s expectations reasonably, there are a couple of options.

1) For 50% of the world to ADORE you and 50% of the world to really DISLIKE you

2) Or for 50% of the world to be flexible and like bits of you and not other bits, with only 25% ADORING/DISLIKING you.  (you’ll find that the flexible people will then like & dislike opposite bits, so it is still 50/50 for like/dislike in your life).

 

We’ll all face both situations in our life in the different places, neighbours, friends, families, work, clients, customers etc and when you get your head around it, there is a great deal of comfort in knowing that at any point in time only 50% of the world will be disliking you.

Not ALL people, just half of them.

So you are always going to be liked by half the people you meet!  That’s great.  That’s loads of people!