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You’ll have heard the age-old phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never harm me.”
It’s a saying we’ve possibly all used to convince ourselves to brush off words that wound, and to make ourselves ultimately feel strong enough to contend with the hurt.
However, if we’re really honest, those hurtful words, whether they’re spoken or written down in black and white, can remain with us for a very long time. And actually, it’s not just the words we hear, it’s also the way in which they’re said that can be equally damaging.
And this is reiterated in a phrase that can be found in the Bible:
A blow from a whip raises a welt, but a blow from the tongue will break bones.” Sirach 28:17
It’s a really useful reminder to bear in mind when choosing what we say to others, especially in this world of social media, where people can be overly vocal in a written form. And it’s also essential to share with our children that they need to think of the consequences of what they say to their friends, family, and classmates.
This can be done using some other age-old practical advice of inviting them to turn their tongues in their mouths 10 times before they speak. (This works particularly well with children as they tend to do well with simple, direct techniques.)
You could also suggest that if they want to say something that’s not particularly nice, to think about how they would feel if they were on the receiving end of these words. Again, kids respond well to this sort of advice as they often think about their own feelings.