Sticks and stones are nothin’: Words are the real killers

“Love and peace…and also disturbance and destruction begin at home”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Many of us, at least those of us who grew up in North America, are familiar with this childhood verse. Simple enough concept: a kid, feeling hurt by another kid’s words, chants this song as a coping strategy in an attempt to convince the other kids that the “names” and taunts they are spewing are having no impact. The teased and belittled child continues to sing this little ditty in hopes that the unkind words will stop and that the episode will end. Done deal, right? Wrong.

WORDS HURT. And as parents, we have a very important role to play in helping our kids truly absorb and understand that the sole purpose of the words we direct at another person is to lift that person up; never to break, pull or hold them down. Our goal is to model empathy, patience and forgiveness. To fill buckets, not empty them.

iStock_000014430713XSmallOur kids observe and emulate the words we say within our own homes, to our elders, to cashiers in stores, food service workers in restaurants, fellow drivers on the road and people of various abilities, creeds or ethnicities whose actions, beliefs and words we sometimes struggle to understand. Those nosey little ears are in the back seat taking it all in as we vent during the drive home from family parties about the annoying antics of their beloved uncle or the grandma they adore. We teach them how to judge and critique people without even realizing we’re doing it. No finger-pointing here – we all do it. No one’s immune. We are all human. But we can do better.

So, why am I on my soap box about this? Well, I watched a TED talk that inspired me (you might wanna look for these on-line – some of them are truly incredible but I won’t post the one I watched here cuz it contained one word of rather offensive language.) It reminded me that all kids, the one spewing the venom and the one stricken by it, need love, support, acceptance and understanding. All kids need a safe place to call home where they are greeted, nurtured, taught and held by caring and devoted grown-up role-models. All of our kids need to hear us speaking words of kindness and acceptance so they know how to speak to and interact with others. The late Mother Teresa said, “Love and peace…and also disturbance and destruction begin at home.” Smart lady.  Let’s listen to her.

Are you an “on-the-drive-home venter?”  Or maybe you have ideas for modelling kind words for our kids?  Fill us in! There are a number of ways to reach us:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Tweet with us @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this blogger:

Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department.  Wanna know more about her?  Read her blogs!  She’ll tell ya!  (She kinda likes to talk.)

This entry was posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Teens, Toddlers & Preschoolers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sticks and stones are nothin’: Words are the real killers

  1. Pingback: Mirror mirror on the wall… | HaltonParents

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