Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones But Words…
I have seen an epidemic of interventions by parents, teachers, social media hawks, law enforcement and the public to run to the aid of people, primarily young people, when they are verbally demeaned, attacked or made fun of.
I understand the sentiments of all who intervene. I feel for those children and adults who are assaulted verbally with racial, sexual, social, religious, physical or other slurs or just nasty vile attacks. Words hurt. They make us feel less that. They are never ok.
With that being said, there is another reality that I know and that is if we think we can protect our children from those attacks or encounters, we are living in a country that does not exist. We cannot create a bubble of protection for them to live in. Often when we run to help, the situation is made worse.
As adults we know we experience those hurts from the mouths of others, some we love, others at work, in social situations or just because we hold beliefs of live in certain situations.
So what can I do as a parent to help my children deal with the pain or hurt of verbal attacks? How can I help them stand tall, take the blows and or let them roll off their backs like water on a duck?
Helping children early have a sense of identity. Identity means that a child needs to learn early to discover and stand on their own strengths and talents. They have a strong sense of who they are and what they can do well. Internal strength helps deal with external forces.
Make sure the lines of communication are open. Talking with your kids about things that have been said to or about them is very important. Help them work through the truth or falsehood of the words. Help them with strategies to respond or walk away. Some responses don’t resolve but make situations worse.
Help your children to analyze the situation by asking them to consider the source of the attack. Most angry or nasty people are not strong or happy. They may attack and try and hurt others because of their own misery, pain or it could be they are just nasty people.
Most of all teach them the old maxim, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me”. Words are words. Hot air. They come from fools. Teach your children to be strong women and men.
Lastly, teach them to be strong for those who need someone to stand by their sides. Some kids need help. They are verbally bullied and when your child is strong or you teach them how to be courageous and stand with those kids who are being attacked, they grow bigger and stronger.
Parenting is about helping to launch our children into life and a world that will not always be welcoming or pretty. We want to make sure they launch strong and ready. They have to learn to stand strong and by themselves.