Some children are crushed by bullying whereas others emerge from it battered but stronger for the experience. Which outcome occurs largely depends on the perspectives a child adopts toward these experiences. Therefore parents and teachers should help kids adopt healthy perspectives about the suffering they are experiencing:
Bullying in Perspective: See Adversity as Strength Training
One of the best educational scenes for teens that has ever been depicted in a movie occurs towards the end of Little Miss Sunshine, when the Uncle is speaking with his distraught teenage nephew about the often difficult antics of high school. Offering a few prudent words of wisdom, he says something along the lines of…
Descartes says that growth, knowledge and perspective can only come through suffering. In fact, some of the most accomplished people talk about how their path to greatness was paved by suffering. Right now, in high school, these are your prime suffering years. So if you were to give up now, just imagine how much suffering you would miss out on.
It’s meant to be humorous, but it’s also entirely true. Nobody enjoys being tormented, but how we use that experience – growing from it or shrinking because of it – really is up to use and the perspective we adopt. Enduring hardships and suffering can indeed make a person both stronger and better for it . . . IF they use it to their advantage. Humans have known this for millennia. Across all venues, the people who are the most successful, accomplished and competent in life are not those raised in glass castles where everything went perfectly for them, but those who have earned their competence by overcoming adversity.
It’s important that teens be reminded of this. We grow through adversity, not through bliss and contentment. The old adage of “no pain, no gain” applies just as much to mental issues as it does exercise or weightlifting.
Bullying in perspective: Help children understand how they grow through suffering It helps to point out precisely how children can grow from the painful things they are experiencing:
A) Suffering frequently builds compassion and empathy in those who experience it. This is because when we suffer, we tend to become more attuned to the suffering of others, which is why monks fast and put themselves in positions of suffering as a means of promoting a deeper connection to the world.
B) What you’re experiencing can help you develop a thicker skin and resistance to cruelty that may come in handy later in life.
C) Those picked on by peers can become more self-reflective and socially attuned than their more narcissistic peers who focus on themselves.
D) Just as muscles get stronger when we flex them to lift weights, our ability to handle difficult experiences grows more and more with each type of adversity we face, making us more resilient.