web analytics
July 2, 2015 / 15 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Words As Weapons: Learning To Use Words Positively


Schonfeld-logo1

Just a few days ago, I bumped into a former student in the supermarket. When she saw me, she stepped away from her shopping cart full of fruits and vegetables and warmly hugged me. “Mrs. Schonfeld, I wanted to tell you something that you said to me a few years ago that has stayed with me until today.” We had worked together on social skills to help her feel more comfortable when meeting new people. I tried to jog my memory and remember something specific I had said to bolster her confidence, but nothing particularly stood out. Instead, I smiled and said, “Yes, Sarah, what was it that I said?”

Her eyes filled with tears and she revealed, “You mentioned that when I smile, I often smile with my eyes too and that my whole face lights up. You told me that my sincerity comes through when I genuinely smile. As I was going on shidduchim, I would always remember what you said about my smile and would hope that others felt the same way. And then, when I went on a shidduch with someone who seemed really special, I had a stronger belief in myself. Most importantly, I didn’t hesitate to smile. And, now we are married and already have our first child.”

I congratulated Sarah, chatted with her for a few minutes, and then continued with my shopping. As I was picking out my string beans, I began to think a troubling thought. One comment that I had made to Sarah several years ago had influenced her in wonderful ways. Yet, I did not even remember making the comment. Of course, in this instance, the comment I made was positive and helpful. However, what about comments that might have indirectly hurt one of my students? Years later, an accidentally ill placed comment could still have a negative effect. Simple words can have such a huge outcome on those around us. That’s why we have to be so careful about both what we say and the way we say it.

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones,
But Words Will Last Forever

Many of us remember our parents telling us that if people called us names or hurt our feelings, we should simply tell ourselves, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me.” Unfortunately, that logic does not hold true. In fact, verbal abuse can be as harmful, if not more, than physical abuse.

The New York Times reported several extreme instances of verbal abuse or bullying. In March, 2007, 17-year-old Eric Mohat shot himself after a long-term tormentor told him in class, “Why don’t you go home and shoot yourself; no one will miss you.” More recently, Carl Jospeh Walker-Hoover, an eleven-year-old boy from Springfield, Massachusetts hung himself after being incessantly hounded by classmates about his appearance.

The instances above are radical cases of verbal abuse and bullying; however, they illustrate the power of words and their effect on children’s psyches. Often, we underestimate the consequences of our comments, but even seemingly innocuous comments can have disastrous results. A poem by Chani Zirkind beautifully demonstrates how five simple words can change a person’s life:

WORDS

I burst out laughing when I heard her say,
The funniest joke I heard all day.
She didn’t say one, she didn’t say two,
I marveled at what her humor can do.
I was sitting here just moments ago,
A little bit bored and a little bit low,
And in she walked with her comments and all,
And my gloominess left with no trace at all!
I wondered what part she had in the play,
I heard took place in the school yesterday.
I sat and imagined the friends she attracts,
Her lucky campers with whom she interacts.
Baruch Hashem for a talent like hers!
Creating happiness just out of words…
Words
I’m not so sure
Words
There’s more to her.
What I thought
isn’t true
Because of what
words
can do.
I’ve seen her true self with family at home,
But once she steps out her humor’s unknown.
Yes, she’s tried to tell others her jokes,
But what occurred put down her hopes.
Someone said five words, no more,
That closed her in, closed up her door.
Her self-confidence to never give up,
Was lost in a comment,
“I thought you grew up.”

Adult Impact on Children

Miriam Adahan’s book Sticks and Stones: When Words are Used as Weapons transplants the discussion of verbal bullying into the realm of Jewish thought. Rashi explains that Lo sonu (Vayikra 25:17) refers to hurting others with words – ona’as devarim. There are multiple examples of ona’as devarim:

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Words As Weapons: Learning To Use Words Positively”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
investing-in-gold_4548807_lrg
What Sanctions? Iran Receives 13 Tons of Gold From S. Africa
Latest Sections Stories

Anna Henriques, who hopes to one day head back to Jamaica, says, “Rabbi Raskin must be willing to respect what exists in Jamaica. The way to the future is to gently bring in the traditions of the past and at the same time embrace the idiosyncrasies of the Jamaican people.”

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.

Emmer-052915-History

It may be that seeking to connect with the past is rooted in the impermanence and impersonality of modern life.

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

Everyone in the kehilla can get involved, she added, and mothers can network with each other.

On her first ever trip to Israel last week, popular radio talk-show personality and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, whose spirited broadcasts regularly attract millions of listeners across North America, paid a visit to OneFamily headquarters in Jerusalem in order to learn more about the physical and emotional challenges faced by victims of terror in […]

With the famous Touro Synagogue, a variety of mansions, each with its own distinct personality, as well as the beautiful coast, Rhode Island makes for an excellent vacation spot.

To avoid all this waste and unnecessary anxiety, let’s break the task down step by step and tackle each one at a time.

While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).

For those who couldn’t go off base, a personal parcel was priceless in its ability to convey a feeling of home.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

We never cease to be students, even when we are no longer in school. Therefore, everyone can learn from these elements of thought.

Schonfeld-logo1

The warm parenting style indicates to children, “I love you and will take care of you” and the firm parenting style lets children know, “I expect something from you.”

When we are faced with danger, our body goes into what scientists call “fight or flight” mode.

This doesn’t mean that anyone who occasionally has a piece of chocolate as a pick-me-up is an emotional eater.

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

All of these small changes work their way into the framework of the elephant and the rider because they are helping the elephant move forward.

While indecision can stop you in your tracks, it’s important to point out that it’s not always bad.

How do we ensure that our students aren’t studying for the grade or the end-of-the-year pizza party? How can we get them to truly want to learn for learning’s sake?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/words-as-weapons-learning-to-use-words-positively/2012/07/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: