Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones and Words Really Can Hurt Me

Lauren today by Myra Golden
Lauren today, a photo by Myra Golden on Flickr.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Whoever said this, lied through their teeth. They lied or they have veins of steel.

Last night my daughter came home from her 6th Grade Social visibly down. She looked beautiful, but something clearly burdened her. When I asked about the social and what went on, she put up a strong front, yet she was transparent. She went upstairs and napped. She never naps. When she awoke, we talked. After much probing, I learned that a 6th grade boy, accompanied by his “boys,” walked up to her and called her an ugly b#@%&. “I was really strong mommy. I managed not to cry the whole time.” That broke my heart. This isn’t the first incident we’ve had with this boy.

As you can imagine, I was livid. But my first priority was to make Lauren feel better. We talked about how people can say ugly, mean things and that what this boy said was not true. I told Lauren that she is absolutely beautiful. I held her, caressed her, prayed for her, and gave her pointers on how to handle mean people. Lauren couldn’t concentrate on anything the entire evening. She couldn’t eat, couldn’t read, couldn’t even sleep. She came downstairs about 11:30pm and just cried in my arms. She told me that she never wanted to ride the bus again. The little boy rides her bus and gets on and off at her stop. My heart broke last night.

This morning I took Lauren to school so she wouldn’t have to ride the bus with the boy. I wanted her to feel safe and comfortable, but I don’t want to teach her to run away from her problems. I know that we need a proactive solution; not avoidance. As she got out of the car, I promised her that Daddy and I would handle the situation. I cleared my business calendar and made my daughter’s issue my only focus. My husband called the boy’s father and they discussed the words spoken and my daughter’s crushed spirit. I spoke with the school counselor. Then I called up a client who is also a friend. Her daughter has been a victim of bullying. My client assured me that my feelings of outrage, heartbreak, helplessness, and fear are normal. She gave me concrete ideas on how to proceed and how to protect my daughter from ugliness at school.

My daughter will get through this. Her Daddy and I will make sure she heals and learns from this. Words really do hurt. Words can shatter people and leave scars. I think words can hurt more than sticks and stones. Parents, please talk to your kids about the impact of their words. Encourage your kids to THINK before they speak.

Your words can really, really hurt someone. Think…before you speak.

Published by

myragolden

Myra Golden is an author, trainer and keynote speaker who has been helping companies for over twenty years to improve the customer experience through her customer service training workshops. Myra has a master’s degree in human relations and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, helping her to understand the challenges of developing the best customer experience as it relates to the psychology of the employees. Myra has helped Verizon Business, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Michelin Tires, Frito-Lay, Vera Bradley and many others improve the customer experience through her training. She was named one of the Top 10 Customer Service Bloggers by Huffington Post and she is the co-author of Beyond WOW!

8 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones and Words Really Can Hurt Me

    1. Thank you for your prayers Marcia. The school handled things well and Lauren is feeling comfortable again. 🙂

      1. Beautifully written piece, Myra!There is nothing worse than seeing our child in pain. Excellent job on how you handled the situation.
        I hope many parents are having conversations with their youngsters on how unkind words is a form of bullying.

      2. Thank you Linda. You’re right, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child in pain. I do hope this blog post inspires parents to talk to their children about how hurtful unkind words can be. Unkind words are actually verbal abuse and verbal abuse is bullying. This is very serious.

  1. My daughter had a horrible experience very similar to Lauren when she was in middle school. However, not only did boys harass her and call her names but there three to four girls who were the worst.

    I remember several years prior to my daughter entering middle school, I heard on the news of a mother who went to the middle school where her daughter attended and physically attacking a student. The mother was arrested by the police for this attack. When I heard the report my reaction was that the mother was way out of line and should have been arrested.

    When my daughter had a particularly nasty event happen to her at her school, it was the last straw for me. I was ready to go to the school myself and physically discipline the kids that were involved. After calming myself and thinking the situation through, I realized that was not the solution (although quite honestly I still think how good I would have felt if I could have administered a little old-fashioned discipline to these kids).

    I addressed the situation in several ways, similar to what Myra did:
    1) I got the school principal involved who in turn got his vice principal and the school counselor involved;

    2) I spoke with several other parents who were experiencing similar problems. We went to the PTA and found that to be a useless experience. The PTA was more interested in planning the next Valentine’s Day Party or Prom than in working together to address a very serious and dangerous school condition;

    3) I arranged my work schedule to volunteer at my daughter’s school as much as I could;

    4) I worked at forming a closer relationship with my daughters teachers so that they would take more responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior. And I do know that a lot of teachers know what is going on and they fail to take any action. If nothing else, they could report on-going inappropriate behavior to their principals;

    5) I let the “bullying” kids see me and know who I was by going to the school and sitting in on some of their classes;

    6) last but not least, I continued to keep the lines of communication open with my daughter. I didn’t want to do anyhthing that would cause the bullying to go “underground” or get worse for her. I continued to assure her that what the kids said about her was untrue and that she was beautiful, talented and a good friend to others who were good friends to her.

    While she is now in high school, I had her attend a workshop that was sponsored by the school district. The event was “Rachel’s Challenge: The Start of a Chain Reaction”.

    Rachel was the first student killed in the Columbine shooting that occurred in 1999. Rachel’s dad, Darrell Scott, facilitated the session. It was an extremely impactful program on bullying and the power of kindness.

    My daughter felt that the program is one every student, teacher and parent should attend. I couldn’t agree more. To find out more about Rachel’s Challenge, visit their website at http://www.rachelschallenge.org.

    To Lauren, I say you are a beautiful young woman. Don’t ever listen to the mean and hurtful words others may say about you. Continue to share your feelings with your mom who will always love you and protect you. And remember, look for opportunities to use kinds words to build up others. While “sticks and stones may break my bones…words really can heal me”.

    1. Lillian, thank you for taking the time to share your story and the specific steps you took. I love every single step, especially steps 5 and 6. I will share your exhortation with Lauren. Again, thank you so much for adding value to this discussion. I know your steps and success will help many other parents work through bullying.

  2. Myra, I commend how you handled this situation. Lauren is lucky to have you as a parent. My daughter in middle snd high school has had many ugly situations and I spoke with her to give her the confidence that those ugly and mean words took away.

    all my best,
    Jessica

  3. From Australia doing research for an article linking bullying to teen suicide. Another student a girl killed herself because of bulllying recently 2nd in 6months in Sydney. Sad but true. & I just read your blog Myra what a great parent you are for being persistent enough to get your daughter to tell you why she was upset. I’m sure if every parent were able to just listen & take their kid seriously like u did that we could prevent many teen suicides. Bullying & cyberbullying is now becoming a big issue . Give her big hugs our kids are special they are our future and they deserve to live happy fruitful lives.

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