What do creativity and self-esteem have to do with bullying prevention? A lot. Creativity and self-esteem are directly linked. They’re both essential for problem-solving. And bullying prevention is all about solving problems – from pre-school to the workplace.
Targets of bullying suffer from low self-esteem more frequently than bullies themselves. If you want to inoculate a child against bullying, boosting their self-esteem through creative expression may help. In her blog doorway-to-self-esteem.com, May Bleeker talks about some of the strengths creativity builds:
- The ability to quiet your inner critic. This also builds self-esteem.
- Self-acceptance. As Bleeker writes: “If you never let yourself emerge with any spontaneity, there can be no genuine acceptance of yourself.” Accepting yourself, even some of your quirkier or less capable parts, is a major step toward accepting and understanding others.
- Perseverance in the face of “failure” or “mistakes.” In the creative process, things that look like “failures” can be the breakthroughs that lead to success. Creative people, and those with higher self-esteem, will work longer to solve a problem.
So creativity teaches us to be more compassionate towards ourselves and others, builds emotional resilience, and helps us persevere in the face of challenges. Pretty useful skills in bullying prevention!
When we think of creativity and children, we tend to think about the arts – paintings and crafts, stories, music. The arts are absolutely a great starting point to build self-esteem.
Quoted on ArtsEdge.org, educational consultant Dory Kanter says: “The arts are a great leveler as we are all in the same boat, learning to create and succeed in new and unexpected ways. Children not only become appreciators of each other’s work, but also develop skills of self-reflection in the effort to bring their personal vision to fruition.”
Creativity encourages not only personal initiative, but teamwork. Initiative and teamwork are valuable skills in a workplace. Scratch under the surface of a business brimming with ideas and you’ll find one full of confident problem solvers who trust their teammates. The sad corollary is that if you have a bullying problem in your workplace, you probably won’t see the maximum creativity from the workers, because that trust is missing.
Encourage creativity in your workplace by encouraging openness, a sense of humor and respect for everyone’s ideas. The kind of managers that can do that have generally learned early on – really early on – from their own adult mentors.
Here are a few ideas to teach younger children (and future managers) to say ‘Yes!’ to creativity and self-esteem (courtesy Connectability.ca):
- Make A Collage: Things I’m Good At. Have children create a collage of pictures depicting things they feel they’re good at. Building from our strengths, we gain the courage to try new adventures or skills.
- String Some “Like” Beads. Let children create beaded bracelets or necklaces, with each bead or charm representing something they like about themselves. They can explain the meaning of each bead to their friends.
- Create A Self-Esteem “Quilt”, made from construction paper. Each square is from a different child showing things they like to do. “Weave” the quilt squares together on the wall or a cork board (with tape or tacks). Discuss and learn!
It takes courage to express and share our creativity, but once we do, we unleash our courage and imagination to tackle any problem – including bullying.
M. Bleeker, Self-Esteem & Creativity, June 4, 2009, Doorway-to-Self-Esteem.com
C. Lock, What the Arts Can Do for Your Child, ArtsEdge.org
Building Self-Esteem in School Age Children, Connectability.ca