Of all the things that kids do, this has got to be one of the things that annoys me the most: name calling. In all honesty, I would prefer that they gave each other a shove than called each other a derogatory name. No, I'm not about to start high-fiving my child for kicking his brother in the shin, but still. Name calling sucks.
I get it. Hurt people, hurt people. We react by using words that are deliberately designed to damage. With those close to us, we tend to know each other’s weaknesses and so we head straight for those buttons. We prey on insecurities and throw darts at the very places that are exposed. It’s cruel, and what’s worse, it can be permanent.
I wanted to find a way to illustrate this to the boys, in order to help them think twice next time they feel like throwing insults around. At this age, the words they use a pretty mild, but as they grow into creative teens, they could possibly get more aggressive. Take those same patterns into adulthood and you've got a recipe for trouble in relationships, work and in social circles.
Words are either tools or weapons. Whichever way we chose to use them, once they are out, there is no going back.
To illustrate the power of words, I decided to do a little experiment. I asked the boys to come outside with me and line up on the driveway. I gave my youngest son an egg and on behalf of all of us, I asked him to smash it on the concrete. He looked up at me with confusion- for real? I nodded. Yeah, go for it.
Splat. We gathered around the broken egg and then I gave them the strange instruction to 'please put it back together'. Confused and amused, they squatted down to give it a crack (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
“You can’t. It's impossible, mum”.
Exactly. Some things, can never be undone. I made them look at the sad pathetic egg mess on the driveway and I reminded them that when words come out of our mouths, it’s very much like the egg. Once something is said, it can never be retracted. Offering an explanation or saying sorry might help, but it doesn’t ultimately change what was said.
Therefore, like the egg, it is important that we treat our words with care. People, at the end of the day, are fragile. The words we use and how we use them, carry a big responsibility. We all crave love and acceptance. Our feelings in a moment of anger, will pass. The insults that we throw, will not.
There is one more thing. We live in an imperfect world, and whilst we can try to be kind to each other, there is no guarantee that everyone will always be nice to us. For this reason, I have decided that next week we will cover the second part of this lesson: resilience. Because no matter what anyone says to us, we are still empowered with an important choice: to accept or reject anything that might be thrown at us.
To see video of our little Egg-xperiment in nail-biting live action, click HERE.