Kind Words

”Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Most of us have likely heard or said some version of the above. It is often used to help kids cope with unkind words. But the truth is, words can hurt. What if we placed more emphasis on using kind words instead of simply ignoring the unkind ones? The results are much more powerful.

It’s impossible to understand the impact of kind words until you’ve been on the receiving end. Today I was on that receiving end. Wow! I didn’t know how much I needed those words until they were spilled out.

A simple text from a sweet friend saying, “Just thought you should know how valued, appreciated, and loved you are.” Tears came quickly, causing the remainder of the message to blur.

This thoughtful expression was overwhelming. It provided much-needed encouragement. It also reminded me the best way to teach the importance of using kind words is by example. Allow them to pour out, and affirm those on the receiving end.

This time of year, it is easy to put my head down and move full speed ahead. End of the school year activities, tired teachers, anxious kids. We can feel summer just around the corner. I can’t think of a better time to slow down, look up, and let some kind words flow.

Words…Reactions

My interaction with a little friend at school this morning made me stop and think about the power of our words. Sometimes all it takes is a few short words to send someone into a tailspin. Yes, there are times we must ignore harsh words. Typically, that is much easier for adults than it is for children.

Such was this morning. One particular student was crying and crying, expressing a desire to go home. I tried to be sympathetic and funny, saying I wanted to go home too. That did not help. There was no comforting this one.

Discovering the reason for this reaction took at least twenty-thirty minutes and multiple adults. I’m afraid I was not one of those adults. Although I helped to a point, I was not the one for this job. My usual “dry up those tears” attitude was obviously not going to work. And honestly, I did not have the patience necessary this early in the day.

Whether this student overreacted or not is not the issue here. The fact is unkind words from another student lead to what seemed like an eternity of tears. Eventually, it passed, the student regained control and began the school day.

I wondered what other factors may have been in play. Didn’t sleep well? Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Didn’t eat breakfast? I don’t know. I do know I have experienced mornings like that.

Although it’s hard to admit, there have been those rare times when a cross word from someone almost brought me to tears. I’m not even talking about mean comments directed towards me. And I am an emotionally stable adult. (Just don’t ask my teammates or family.) 😉

So, should I really be surprised when a child reacts this way? I suppose it depends on the child and the situation. However, it does make me think even more about our need to teach and model kindness every day. Sounds simple but requires being consistent and intentional.

Here’s to tomorrow…hoping for an all-around happier start to the day. It is Valentine’s Day, after all. Just maybe there will be some short words that will lead to happy reactions. ❤

Gotta love conversation hearts!

Rescuing Turtles

Today I saw a sweet lady rescuing a misguided turtle on the side of the road. This poor turtle was at the corner of an extremely busy intersection, preparing to hop the curb and take his chances. We all know the likely outcome. Thankfully someone kind spotted him and decided to offer some guidance. Smiling while talking to him, she carefully picked him up and helped him head in a much safer direction.

I’ve always found turtles interesting. Carrying their house around with them at first glance seems proficient. No matter where they travel or what danger lurks, they have instant protection. Just ducking their head, feet and tail inside that hard shell provide safety. Considering the slow speed at which they move, it seems this feature would be a plus.

But what about the weight? Maybe it’s the weight of that shell that causes the slow tempo. They certainly seem to carry around a heavier load compared to other creatures their size. Please note, I’m not speaking scientifically. I have not actually researched the structure of turtles, simply making observations based on watching them.

This may seem an odd comparison but witnessing this woman’s act of kindness towards the turtle caused me to transfer the scene to people. We all come in contact with people who, for various reasons, are moving slowly through life. Maybe they’re temporarily carrying extra weight because of job stresses, life circumstances, varying differences. They may appear self-sufficient like they have it all together, but the reality under that shell is quite the opposite.

No matter the reason, that extra weight has the power to affect decision making. I have personally experienced that feeling of being at a busy intersection, trying to choose the right path, in desperate need of assistance. Others passing by so quickly it’s difficult to get their attention. Wondering if anyone will take the time to stop and say hello. And once they do stop, hoping they are willing to offer some help.

I have also experienced the opposite.  Slowing down long enough to realize a friend needs help.  Noticing they seem sad, not acting in their usual manner.  Sometimes a rescue is simple-listening over coffee, sending a sweet note.  Other times it may be more complicated, requiring time, energy, and possibly sacrifice.

Both experiences are an inevitable part of life.  So next time you find yourself at one of life’s busy crossroads, slow down and look around. Maybe there is a weighted down, misguided turtle who needs your assistance. Stop and listen. You might just end up being their hero! And remember, the time may also come when you are the turtle in need of rescue. If so, don’t be discouraged. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and don’t give up. Your hero could be waiting at the next intersection.