web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Words As Weapons: Learning To Use Words Positively


Schonfeld-logo1

Share Button

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:

Share Button

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.

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

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The interior of the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, in 2009.
Tunisian Jew Stabbed in Djerba
Latest Sections Stories
Tali Hill, a beneficiary of the Max Factor Family Foundation.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Yeshiva Day School of Las Vegas’s deans, Rabbi Moshe Katz and Rabbi Zev Goldman, present award to Educator of the Year, Rabbi Michoel Paris.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

Your husband seems to have experienced what we have described as the Ambivalent Attachment.

The goal of the crusade is to demonize and hurt Israel.

The JUMP program at Hebrew Academy was generously sponsored by Evelyn and Dr. Shmuel Katz.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

Schonfeld-logo1

The key to kindness and acceptance is empathy. A lot of people argue that you cannot teach empathy. While I agree that it is difficult to teach empathy, I believe it is possible.

By multiple intelligences, we mean that people have different intelligences in different areas.

Explosiveness is not confined to a type or a gender. It comes in male and female children, and in all ages, shapes and sizes. Some blow up dozens of times a day, others just a few times a week. Some “lose it” only at home, others only in school, and still others in any conceivable location.

The truth is that you never know what’s going on in a house until you live in it.

Q: What does twice exceptional or 2e mean?

Shimon quickly shoveled a forkful of rice into his mouth, while attempting to scribble the right math equations into his workbook. “(2 x 34 -11)2” he said between mouthfuls. “Mommy, I got some rice on my paper, but I have to finish this before it is time to go in the shower,” Shimon choked out.

First, it is important to establish a diagnosis for your child. Perhaps his struggles with reading are associated with ADHD or a processing disorder.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: