Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Who in the world came up with this saying? I remember saying it all the time when I was little, but now that I look at it, I can’t help but wonder why this ever even became popular. I mean, it’s absolutely not true, right?
According to Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, this children’s taunt was first listed in ‘Folk Phrases of Four Counties’ (1894) by G.F. Northall. Apparently it was something children have been taught through the years to tell those who bully them.
What do you think about this saying? How accurate is it?
I remember when I was little and misbehaving in the car as we were driving down the road. What did I hear not long after causing problems?
“If you don’t stop right now, I’m going to pull over and get a switch.”
Well, that sure worked for me. No more misbehaving. I knew that a switch would definitely hurt my behind. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the country, a switch is a tiny branch pulled off of a tree. Word of wisdom: the thinner the switch, the harder it hurts!
I guess that part of the saying is true, then. A stick does hurt.
I really wasn’t a trouble maker when I was younger, but I can see how you might think that about me the more you read. When I was about 5 years old, it was play time at my babysitter’s house. One boy was pretending to throw rocks at me, but they were landing on the ground a few feet away. He just wanted to see what I would do, and it was starting to make me mad, so I grabbed a BIG rock and threw it as hard as I could. The next thing I knew, he was crying with an already black eye, and I got in so much trouble!
That was the first time I learned that rocks (a bigger version of stones) really can harm someone. So I guess that part of the saying is true as well.
If you are a person reading this post, which I think I’m pretty safe to assume you are, then you have been picked on by someone at some time in your life. I was picked on the majority of my school career; elementary through high school. People said the most horrible things to me and about me. I tried to say it didn’t bother me, but can I be honest with you? I’m 32 years old, and sometimes some of those things still return to me. For just a moment I feel that exact same hurt I did when I was younger.
Words hurt. They cut deeper than any stick or stone ever could. The thing with sticks and stones is that the pain eventually goes away. Words hurt forever. Even when you forgive someone, there’s no such thing as forgetting.
Of course, there’s no need to dwell on it, but those words come back every once in a while. When the words return even for a moment, it’s like a scab from a wound. You may have forgotten the wound was there, but the minute that scab gets pulled off just a little bit, you feel that pain.
The bible says the tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. Proverbs 18:21 NLT
As a child of God, you have the power to speak life into others. I know sometimes you want to say mean things and join in with your friends as they make fun of someone else, but try to avoid it as much as possible. When you hear girls tearing one another down, you can choose not to take part, and you have several choices in front of you.
- Find something nice to say about the other person. This takes a lot of strength, but you can do it!
- If the first is too difficult for you, just change the subject getting the attention off of the girl that’s being teased. Start talking about anything else that you know your friends are interested in.
- Completely remove yourself from the situation. If you don’t feel you can do either of the first two choices, take a bathroom break of find something different to do. You don’t have to be around your group of friends all the time.
- Re-evaluate who your friends are. If you notice that the majority of your time with your friends is spent talking bad about someone else, they may not be the best friends for you. It’s difficult to make a “friend switch,” but sometimes it’s necessary. Also, if your friends enjoy talking about someone else in your group when she’s not there, then what makes you think they don’t talk about you when you aren’t there?
The bottom line is that words are hurtful, and the scars are there forever. Be careful what you say to others and about others. Even if they laugh alongside of you, they may be crying inside.
Your words have the power to bring death or life. Which would you prefer to bring to others?