Sticks and Stones


As a Kindergarten teacher, I have always loved All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum.  In the poem, he suggests that serenity and a quiet spirit are very much needed in our noisy world.  Fulghum tells of villagers in the Solomon Islands who destroyed a tree by screaming at it for 30 days.  The tree died, confirming the Islanders’ theory that yelling kills a living thing’s spirit.

Consider all of the things we yell at in our lives: our spouse, our children, the customer service rep, strangers who cut us off in traffic, the telemarketer, umpires and refs, even our lawn equipment. Robert Fulghum says, “don’t know what good it does.  The lawn equipment just sits there.  Even kicking doesn’t always help.  As for people, the Solomon Islanders may have a point.  Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them.  Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.”

As a parent, Fulghum’s words pierce my heart.   Ecclesiastes 9:17 reminds us, “The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of the ruler of fools.”

Let me be honest.  I often feel as though I rule three little fools.  My children ages 5 and twins 3 often behave foolishly.  In turn, I am disciplining constantly.  It’s exhausting.  It’s frustrating.  It’s maddening.  I must confess, I do yell at them.  Sometimes even in public…yes, I have been THAT mom!

In the book, Instructing a Child’s Heart, Ted Tripp states, “There is a power to quiet words that is not present in shouts or screams.  Shouting trivializes words.  Shouting puts emotions in the foreground and meaning in the background.”

I must remember these words each time I want to overpower my children with a loud voice.  Oh how much better it would be if I were the serenity and quiet spirit that is very much need in my noisy world!

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