The utter lie that is sticks and stones...

 Photo credit: geocaching.com 

Photo credit: geocaching.com 

Our upcoming crate celebrates the amazing Dr. Maya Angelou. She was, and is still, so inspiring. I love how when she spoke, she did so with such thoughtfulness and intention. And this got me thinking about the power of words. Growing up, I'm sure we all heard the idiom: "sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never harm you" at some point. Hearing this and thinking about it now as an adult, I feel that I can say with some confidence and assurance that that adage is utter crap. 

The truth is, I can vividly remember many of the words spoken to me in anger, love, sadness, and encouragement. I remember the words that were spoken when my sister told me I was going to be an auntie for the first time. I remember the words that were spoken when that same sister told me our mom was in a coma and it didn't look good. I remember the words that were spoken when I said "I love you" to a man for the first time. I remember the words that were spoken to me when someone told me I was fat and needed to lose weight. I remember those words and their affect on my heart and mind so much more than I remember the physical pain from a paper cut, when I broke my shoulder, or when I sprained my ankle. I don't buy that words don't have power. They do. They absolutely do.

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To paraphrase Maya, a true wordsmith, words can get into the fabric of our lives and hearts. Words can be uplifting. Words can also be harmful. The words we sling at people can be just as hurtful as sticks and stones and perhaps, even a little bit more damaging. Why? Because the injuries that we sustain from sticks and stones physically heal, but the injuries that we can sustain from words can become embedded in our minds, hearts, and life. It's been said that the tongue has the power of life and death. Think about that. The little muscle inside of our mouths has the power of LIFE and DEATH. That's quite a bit of power for a seemingly small muscle! 

Our little ones face so many words nowadays; words on the playground, on TV, on the Internet, and from those who surround them day in and day out. Sometimes, they are exposed to words that build them up and some that drag them down. Recently, my niece had a little friend who told her that she hated her and was ugly. She cried and didn't understand how someone that she loved could say such hurtful things. Thankfully, my niece has a wonderful and wise mama and dad who took the time to help her process what happened. They asked her questions like: "How did what was said make you feel?" "How did what was said make you feel about yourself?" "What do you like about yourself?" "What do you know is true about who you are?" Then, they told her that there will be times when people say things that will hurt us. It's in those moments that we have to decide whether or not we want to believe what they're saying as truth or believe what we know about ourselves to be true. Mercy. So much of what my sister and her husband offered as consolation to S are nuggets of wisdom that I could apply to my own life!

It's a lot to think about as we try to help our little ones navigate this great big world. How do we teach them that their words are power? That they can influence, build up, encourage, tear down, and injure with the turn of a phrase?  How about using the power of words to create and instill empathy in our little ones? To teach them that their words can change the world?

So, I did a little digging and here are some great resources for us to look at and tools we can use to help our little ones understand that what we say does matter, it does leave an imprint, and it can have lasting effects. Check out the links below:

The Power of Words to Teach Compassion to Your Children from Psychology Today

Controlling the Power of Words: Teaching Students How to Confront Insults from  Edutopia 

But, we at GIRLS CAN! CRATE would also love to hear from you! How have you tried to help your little ones understand the power of their words? How have you helped them to recover from hurt left by other's words? Share away! Knowledge is power, after all....