A Student’s Positive Perspective on Bullying
“I hope that my brother is mean to me”. A seventh grade boy (whom I’ll call Dylan) shared this with me following a recent school assembly. As a youth motivational speaker, my goal was to give students a different outlook on bullying. Still, his words surprised me. Why would this kid want his brother to mistreat him?
The Power of Emotional Resilience
In my talk, Dylan learned about emotional resilience. For the first time in his life, he realized that his brothers mean words were simply the tool being used to psychologically dominate him. Up unto this point, Dylan had fallen for this trap. Like most students, he got upset and fought back with more venomous words. The more upset he got, the meaner his brother was and the more fun he had. It became a cycle. During the assembly, he learned that he didn’t have to get upset. It was his choice whether or not he would give power to the words of others.
“I’m going to try not getting upset the next time he’s mean.” said Dylan. “I bet he won’t have much fun then.” I smiled and nodded. Dylan and I reviewed the lesson. By getting upset when others are mean, we are giving them what they want – power over us. When we choose instead to stay calm (and not get upset), it becomes nearly impossible for the aggressor to win. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”
Developing a Resilient Mindset
As Dylan walked away he exclaimed “I hope my brother is mean”. “Why would you say that?” I asked. His response was surprising, yet brilliant. He wanted his brother to be mean so that he could practice being strong.
My goal is that more students will experience the revelation that Dylan had. When we view adversity as an opportunity to build our resilience, we’re setting ourselves up for success. I wish more people had the mindset of this seventh grade boy, when it comes to bullying. Empowering students and preventing bullying isn’t difficult. Often it’s as simple as talking through different outcomes to conflicts and allowing kids to practice different ways to resolve it.