Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones and Words WILL Hurt You

By Shannon Gosney
In Blogging Randomness
December 13, 2009

Sticks and stonesI think about the saying I grew up with in childhood – “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”  As an adult, I’ve come to think of this as a fairytale statement.  Of course words WILL hurt you!  Words possibly hurt more than sticks and stones.  After all, words are directed at our emotions and provoke an emotional response – whether it’s laughter, tears, or yelling.

Growing up, I had red hair, freckles, and fair skin.  I didn’t shave until I was in 6th grade (for my 6th grade dance).  Plus, I had really crooked teeth.  I was the target of much teasing by those around me.  Please understand that not everybody teased me, but it was enough teasing from a few people to cause me to go home, curl up in a ball, and cry my eyes out.  As an adult, I now understand how frustrated my parents (particularly my mother) must have felt to see her little girl hurt and crying.  How can kids be so cruel?

1987 sisters-1In fourth grade, I had a crush on a guy named Kenny.  I told my “best friend” (if that’s what you’d call her) that I liked him and thought he was cute.  Immediately following, I asked her to please not say anything.  What did she do?  I’m sure you know what she did.  She pushed open the bathroom door, ran out to the playground, and told him.  I sat there thinking to myself – maybe he likes me back, maybe he’ll marry me in the field (LOL – do you remember that?)…what would he say?

She ran back to the bathroom and my heart was pounding, wondering what good news she would bring me.  I asked her what she said.  She said “He hates you and thinks your ugly.”  Uhhhhh…stab to the heart.  Simple words like that which were no big deal for him to say turned my world upside down.  I walked over to the other side of the bathroom with my face in my hands and cried hard…really hard.  Sticks and stones may break my bones….and words DO hurt me!

As a parent, I think it’s important for us to teach our children that words DO hurt people.  Hurt feelings result from racial slurs, blogger bashing, name calling, nagging, knit picking, and more!  Words do hurt!  Think how different our world would be if people would choose their words more wisely and be more sensitive to the feelings of those around them.  It would be amazing to see people around us understand how their words and actions might cause others to feel and because they care about the genuine well-being of those around them. 

What are your thoughts?

New Haircut (7)P.S. I’m happy to say that I now LOVE my red hair, fair skin, and freckles.  I shave when I get the time and braces have left me with a beautiful smile.  Shame on you Kenny.  Look what you missed out on!

About Has 4152 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of RedheadMom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

15 Responses to “Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones and Words WILL Hurt You”

  1. Lin says:

    I think you’re right & we should all try our best to be nice to each other. Also, I too love your red hair!

  2. HAHA I purposely PUT red in my hair. I adore red hair. And you had the MOST heartwarming smile I think I have ever seen on a child.
    We all need to pay attention to “intent”. The old adage “If you don’t have anything nice to say….” Are wise words indeed.
    While it is good to make ourselves heard, and opinions are important, we really must look at our intention behind everything we say and do.

    I grew up in foster homes and went to a different school ,sometimes 3-4 in one year, with each passing grade and was always the “new girl”. Even keeping to myself, the teasing about my clothes was horrible.
    I rarely had new clothes and the kids never let me forget it.
    Now, I love the thrift store and sewing my own. Whodda thought. HAHA Take THAT Renee Brown, Linda Nickolson and Tammy Looney !!

  3. gosfam says:

    Very good point. By the way you were adorable as a young child. MEAN people stink!! I have been in some drama lately and I am glad I was raised that words do hurt, and I have tried to be forgiving when someone hurts me. I hope I can teach my girls.

  4. fancygrlnancy says:

    So much changes in us. What we hate we grow to love.. and those we thought we loved are just not worth it. I am glad your happy now and Kenny sucks!!

  5. Kisha Floren says:

    Great post! And you should love your red hair and freckles…they are beautiful!

  6. Nichol says:

    I have never been one to say anything cruel and it just breaks my heart when kids do this. My sister has down syndrome and I had to tell her constantly it is ok…your family loves you and the mean kids will always be mean. Your the sweetest little girl ever and if they only knew they wouldn’t be saying such cruel things. Shannon your beautiful!

  7. Melissa says:

    I agree…words can hurt more than physical pain sometimes. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m a special education teacher, and teenagers can be so cruel. I always tell my students to choose their words carefully, because you never know what impact your words will have on someone. I had a friend in high school who was on the brink of suicide because of mean things people said about him. Thank God he was able to get help, and is now married with two beautiful children.

  8. Dezi Allen says:

    Heck yeah Kenny missed out!
    I completely agree. Words can hurt more than anything and it would make the world better if parents could teach their children that, unfortunately many of them are just emulating their parents. 🙁

  9. Lori Z. says:

    In my daughter’s Pre-K class we’re already dealing with this. I know she’s had a bad day when she wakes up in the middle of the night crying for me not to leave her alone. I’ve been staying a little longer in class than any of the other parents lately, and that seems to be helping. I can keep kids from saying bad things to her, but that won’t happen forever.

    I think the new saying is “sticks and stones can break your bones but words can break your heart”.

  10. Karen R says:

    You are beautiful. You were beautiful as a child. I was teased, too. I was taller than all the boys in middle school and very shy. I don’t look back at those years fondly. I hated going to school.

  11. Lauralee Hensley says:

    Words do hurt. I think children should be taught this and be encouraged to be kind and think about what they say before they say it. A little role playing in the family would be a great thing for parents to do, to teach their children the impact of words.

  12. Chelle says:

    You were and are beautiful. I agree with you…words can and do hurt. I hate remembering some of the mean things people have said. I wish I could delete hurtful memories!

    Excellent post…and a great reminder to all of us out here. {{hugs}}

  13. Kayla says:

    Aw, you were such a cute little kid!! I agree, shame on that damn Kenny-He was just a cootie infested boy who didn’t realize what he was shootin’ off his mouth at. Lol

    I bet he kicks himself today 😉

    I do agree though-Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I would always hear that damn phrase and each time I would think ‘Lie’ in my head. Many kids have low self esteem, and words like ‘Your ugly’ and ‘I hate you’ can have a profound effect on them. Sticks and stones may break bones, but workds can leave marks that will last forever.

  14. Badger Momma says:

    Speaking from the perspective of another redhead with freckles, my mother always told me that kids teased me because they were jealous. I didn’t believe her then. Because they weren’t jealous then. Just obnoxious and cruel. But they sure are jealous NOW. 🙂

  15. Oh Shannon, I know how you felt! I had red hair, very pale skin and horrible crooked & buck teeth! My parents didn’t have the money for braces (or so they said, but dad always had the money for the newest stereo equipment and music HE always wanted). Kids can be SO cruel – I so remember! Kenny is an idiot… You are such a gorgeous woman, inside and out, and have such a beautiful smile that is so infectious.
    Today, there are more words (unfortunately from some really nasty bloggers, too) from adults that can hurt even more. My mother, father and ex-husband have said some things that have hurt me SO much that I am still trying to overcome. I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful husband and friends, some in real life and in the blogging community – like you Shannon – that have been able to help me get some of my self-esteem back… but it is a hard road to hoe.
    Keep smiling and blogging Shannon, it helps me more than you will EVER know!

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