When Boo was little, she went to my Aunt Carol’s house for daycare while I was at work. There was a little girl there, Candace, who liked to hit when she got angry. Often I would enter the house to pick up Boo and see Aunt Carol talking to Candace, who was sitting in the corner. Aunt Carol was usually saying “Use your words, Candace. Use your words.”
As adults, we still sometimes have a problem knowing how to act when negative emotions overwhelm us. A few of us may still lash out physically (hopefuly, a very few). Some of us use our words as a weapon to retaliate against those who we believe have hurt us. And some of us shut down and either refuse to talk or just can’t seem to get the words out.
If you’re one of the people in the first category – please go back to the end of the first paragraph, and may I also highly recommend anger management classes? Physical violence is not the answer.
If you are a person who uses their words as a weapon, think before you speak. Many times we filter current conversations through past experiences. For example, you were excluded from play groups as a child, so when your invitation goes missing for an event all your friends were invited to, you assume you were deliberately left out. Art said this to me once and we have passed it along to our kids: “You know that I love you and I would never deliberately hurt your feelings.” So before you lash out or “strike back” think if what you are hearing or experiencing is actually what the other person intended.
For those of us who “shut down” (myself included), “use your words” is still good advice. Sometimes, taking a walk to clear your head will help you think more clearly. If you can’t verbalize what’s wrong, try to describe your feelings. Are you scared, angry, hurt?
At least if you express your feelings, that is a starting place to begin a dialogue. Another great quote from Art is “How can I know what’s going on in your head if you don’t tell me?”
Aunt Carol’s advice of “Use your words” is sound advice for all of us, adults and kids.