Getting a compliment, or hearing how well you’ve done is always an ego boost, yet when someone casually tosses cruel or careless slurs, the effects of negative words on the recipient often aren’t taken into consideration by the one doing the insulting. Of course, we don’t want a nation of narcissists, who can’t bear to hear even the most carefully worded criticism, no matter how justified.... but by the same token, there are still people who think that nasty, ill-intentioned words aren’t a big deal. In reality, they are, especially if the victim of the insult hears criticism, and only criticism.
Negative words can have long-lasting results that spread far beyond the person to whom they were hurled.
Words are powerful. Children who were brought up in a household where sharp criticism and cruel taunts were the norm can tell you that words can hurt even more than body blows. That’s because they imbed themselves in young minds, along with the pain that someone who should love you and cherish you - a mother, a father - apparently doesn’t think very much of you at all.
Those kind of painful hurts replay themselves for decades to come. Very few children growing up can unleash themselves from the brand labeled on them by a cruel parent or other authority figure.
If people who are powerful and in charge think so little of the child, what will he learn about how to think of himself? How can he get away from words that burn themselves mercilessly into young, unformed souls? Negative words are powerful indeed.
Children who are brought up in an atmosphere where harsh criticism, taunts, and mocking are their daily fare can and will easily internalize the sentiments behind the words. They learn that they aren’t worth very much, and that if the adults around them think that of them, who are they to refuse the judgment?
As they grow up, kids will repeat these things to themselves. “I’m stupid, I’m an idiot, I’ll never learn,” and the end result is that the only thing they do learn is never to trust themselves.
They’ve been branded by sarcasm as not being worthy. They can see how their friends with kinder parents fare, and that just emphasizes all the more that there must be something wrong with them. After all, the parents of their friends treat them kindly and with consideration. They don’t berate them with sarcasm and foul language.
If their friends, their contemporaries, are treated well by their parents, to the childhood victim of negative words, it just cements it in his mind that the things his parents or other adults say to him must be true. In his childish heart, he firmly believes the message these authority figures have said: that he is worthless. Now imagine the life of a child who believes that of himself as he grows up.
There are plenty of studies that show the emotions of adults which were caused by hearing nothing but harsh and cruel things as they grew up. Many teenagers with poor self images engage in bad behaviors that hurt them even worse: sexual promiscuity, drug addiction, even crimes like theft.
These young adults have a tendency to lash out, and it’s common for children who grew up under such burdens to become more violent than children raised in a more positive and nurturing environment.
Cruelty breeds cruelty. A child who knows nothing else but mockery, name calling, and sarcasm, will become the bully his parents were. That’s the only way he knows how to survive.
The effects caused by negative words, if that’s all a child knows, are long lasting and far reaching. They will do to others as they’ve had done to them, and that is can have devastating effects on people who never knew the victim as a child, but who may meet him in a dark alley as an adult!
Please, think before you criticize. Remember that children have tender and impressionable minds and hearts. What you say, and how you say it, can change a life forever, and not for the good.