There's an upside and a downside to our focus on bullying prevention. The upside, of course, is that we're shedding light on the pervasive culture of mean that is destroying the confidence of so many children and teens.
The downside is that the conversation doesn't go deep enough. Should we be talking just about prevention or should we be spending some time exploring what makes children resilient? I'd love to think that we can "prevent" all bullying. With a lot more work and dare I say, money, I definitely think we can change the balance in schools and homes...but kids will always face the challenge of mean behavior.
So what's the difference between the child/teen that carries the hurt with them forever and the person that not only survives but thrives? I've talked with 80 year olds that tell me that the hurt stuck with them for their whole lives and the negative experience had somehow formed them. That's how deep the silent pain hides in the soul. What if that long tail of pain could have been blunted? What if their ability to become resilient was nurtured?
The subject of resilience is as intricate as the topic of bullying but it deserves it's day in the sun.
I highly recommend reading Carolyn George's article "18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently in the Huffington Post.
Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak -- and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. An emerging field of psychology called post-traumatic growth is suggesting that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and -- most importantly for creativity -- seeing new possibilities in life.
When we allow kids to daydream, it nurtures their individual creativity. Their creativity defines them as a unique powerful person. When kids are allowed to go into "the zone," they are happier and more satisfied. It's harder to negatively impact a person who knows what makes them feel the joy of their own individuality. Creativity comes in so many forms...art, music, writing, sports, film, tv production, theater, even developing video games...anything that takes vision.
So here's a tip. Allow your children to spend time staring out a window or laying on the floor listening to music or curling up in a chair and relaxing. It's time well spent. Their creativity may sustain them for the rest of their lives.