That bullying can take a toll on a kid’s self-esteem, is something I have known for the longest time possible. But, the degree to which the damage can happen is something I witnessed in my recent coaching session with a child who was being bullied at school. After some ice breaker techniques, when the kid started talking, we moved over to a quick game of writing five positive things about ourselves (Yes, the coach writes them too).
After thinking for some time, he looked at me and said, “Actually, I do not have anything to write down.There’s nothing that I am good at!!”
I figured out his qualities, by taking a slightly different route. I asked him what is generally going on in his life, what keeps him busy? What are his hobbies and accomplishments?
It turned out that the child has won many medals in sports, he is a state level Olympiad winner, contributes his free time for an NGO, has some friends who really value him in their life and is extremely good at art. And this is just the beginning. There were many more notable attributes. After we jotted down all the qualities, the boy was grinning from ear to ear and there was a twinkle in his eyes.
Clearly, it was a typical case of low self-esteem. Just for a quick refresher, in psychology, the term self-esteem is used to refer to a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Studies show that high self-esteem is the number one ingredient essential for happiness, fulfilment, rich relationships, and overall success in life.
My coachee, who goes to one of the best schools in Bangalore, had a tough time at school and had classmates and bus mates bullying him – name calling, making fun of the way he dressed and continuous teasing. He had tears in his eyes, his voice choking, as he began to take me on this emotional ride that brought back some of my own memories from childhood and teenage. He was continuously made to feel that “He is not good enough”. And somewhere, he started believing that too. I told him that he is not alone and that approximately 1/3rd of all students have been bullied at school and college. I also told him about famous personalities like Steven Spielberg,Tom Cruise, Muhammad Ali and Priyanka Chopra who were bullied at a young age. He was astonished and opened up more about his own issues at school.