I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is a saying that you hear throughout elementary school playgrounds and probably one that you uttered when you were a child. Throughout my years as an educator, I have come to realize that this is one of the biggest lies we can tell children. Words really do hurt. Sometimes they hurt worse than sticks and stones.
I have had the chance to talk to many students about different issues that arise within the school. Many of these issues are caused by other people’s words. Sometimes the hurtful words come from other students, other times they come from teachers or other family members. The words might be yelled down the hallway, whispered in someone’s ear or posted on the Internet on some social media site. No matter where the words are said or written, I see the effects they have on children.
When I talk to students in my office, we discuss how words are very powerful. I explain to them that once we say something, we lose control of those words. We can’t guarantee our words are going to be perceived the way we wanted them to be perceived. Once words are spoken or written, we don’t know who will hear or see those words. Sometimes it isn’t even the words that hurt, but the way they are said. The tone of someone’s voice and the body language used while speaking also play an important role in how our words are received by others.
As teachers, this is an important piece of information that is vital to remember when interacting with students. What we say to students and how we say it matters! The positive words that we speak could be the only positivity that students hear all day. I’m not saying we should not correct students when they make mistakes or misbehave. We must address these issues. After all, that is our job. How we correct students is what matters. There are many ways to say the same thing, just like in the video. The blind man wrote the same thing as the passerby, but she used different words.
Our words have the power to lift up or tear down; to encourage or discourage; to create smiles or create tears; to create hope or cause someone to give up hope; and to change lives for the better or for the worse. Our words are powerful.
How do you want to use your words? Choose your words carefully. Once you say them, you can’t take them back.