• A is for Agape

The Relevance and Irrelevance of Words

Remember the old taunt, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’ I wonder if kids recite it anymore? I don’t know what made me think of it, though it could have been any number of things since I tend to spend a lot of time in parks and play areas with my kids.


We teach our kids to say please, thank you, and sorry almost arbitrarily. Have you ever been in a situation where you are prompting your child with the ‘what do you say…’ and your child goes through the list before finally finding the appropriate response? What are we really teaching our children. We are basically saying, fill in the blank, you just have to say something.  We are a society of words without actions.

Our children roll their eyes through the catalog of ‘right’ words until they get what they want. At least when we used to be on the playground and someone hit us on the head to get our attention we knew where we stood.

A few of my favorite playground words:

‘Say you’re sorry.’. This could be for any infraction, really. ‘Did you say please?’. This one usually follows the grabbing of a desired object from the hands of an unsuspecting child. ‘What do you say?’ This is the ubiquitous prompt for, Thank You, Please, and even Sorry. ‘Use your words.’ This is in response to a tantrum or whine for desired item. ‘What happened?’ This is the passive way parents now approach any bad behavior. Let’s get the kids to talk through their problems. In the meantime the offended child is crying hysterically and nothing is actually happening.

Words mean nothing. Touching is out of the question. I think we can start writing notes to each other.

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