Kind Words Matter
I have tried to teach my kids and myself to let criticism and unkind worlds pearl up and roll off without penetrating their souls; to choose not to listen but on a bad day I just don't make it, and neither do my kids. That old rhyme Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me never really made sense to me. Words do hurt! I always felt someone was trying to trick me when I heard the rhyme.
When I was little, my Mom implemented a rule in our house. For every criticism or harsh word give two positive comments. It isn't as easy as it seems, but it works wonders. There were eleven of us running around and when she heard us throwing out nastiness she made us add two compliments. We stretched it pretty far sometimes, "Your tee-shirt is clean and looks good on you." If I was mad it was hard as a teen to give one of my siblings a compliment when all I wanted to do was to scream, "You're bugging me, get out of my room!"
Instead of scolding, "Your room is a mess clean it! Oh, you're bugging me stop complaining." My Mom would smile, "I love your outfit, you look so adorable, and I can see you spent a lot of time choosing it. Nevertheless, you need to clean up your room after making such a mess."
Try it with your spouse, children or at work. The attitudes of those around you will change. I heard my fair share of criticism as it child but it was almost always coupled with a dose of positive.
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife