Trish Corbett

Trish Corbett

When I was a child there was a saying ‘Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. How wrong is that? Many years later I heard a wise person say it should be ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my spirit’. That sounds more like it – sadly.

Words have great power. You can lift someone up or you can knock them down. As always, whatever is said is a reflection of the person who is doing the talking, are they being supportive or critical? This says more about that person than it does the person that they are giving the ‘talking to’. While it may not be an indication of who they are – because behaviour doesn’t define a person – their current behaviour does however reveal how they are feeling at that particular moment.

My mum always used to tell me, and my brothers and sisters, when we were growing up ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’. This very example is why words are important because when something is constantly repeated to you at a young age, you will remember it, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. Additionally, because these comments came from a role model that you looked up to, you believe it to be true, regardless of whether it is or not. When told something consistently you will remember it, even if it’s the same message using different words.

While writing this I just had a thought – is this the reason we, meaning my siblings & I, all get along? I suspect it does. Thanks for leaving that legacy mum! (My mum passed away a few months back). My sister-in-law proudly tells anyone who listens that we actually like each other. In the same vein, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our disagreements – we just accept and respect that we all are different.

Subsequently, due to human psychology being what it is, you are likely to remember the negative words or sayings more so than the positive ones. If I asked you to write down, or tell me, your positive characteristics what would you share with me? Do you even know what they are?

Researchers state that the we all need to hear positive words five or six times more than one negative word. Most importantly, we all need to be mindful of zipping it when we feel we are about to contribute to putting negative words, and vibes, out into our world.

Maybe that is a challenge we should all take on. Reduce, or preferably eliminate negative chatter and express the positives that you observe. Whatever you look for you will find so look for the positives in people. It doesn’t hurt to keep in mind that what we put out into the world is what we get back – give it a go! The more you practice it the easier it becomes – like everything else in life.

The people who have the most important job in the world are the role models of the next generation – is that you? You have so much more power than you possibly realise. Any child in your care automatically looks up to you – you are their role model of what a parent, a childcare educator or a teacher says and does. Your words, your behaviour, your everything.

Children are like little sponges that soak everything up, research shows that children learn a second language much more easily the younger they are. Whether it is a word or a language, children are soaking up what they hear and taking it in.

So why do words matter so much? Because I’ll guarantee when you are down on yourself that what you are telling yourself is what you have heard either directly or indirectly as a child. Therefore, it’s very possible that your impact is going to last much longer than the time you actually spend together.

In conclusion, you have an inner critic which naturally impacts your mental health. We are all in the same boat. So together, let’s focus on recognising and acknowledging the positive characteristics in ourselves, each other and most importantly, our children.

Above all if you focus on positive language, those words becomes thoughts that turn into actions and beliefs. Let’s build ethical foundations in your child, a leader of tomorrow by helping them to be self-aware, positive, confident, resilient, empowered and compassion people.

You can do this by signing up to my weekly newsletter in which I blog about one characteristic a week – responsibility, helpfulness, commitment, kindness, compassion – whatever the theme is I suggest you use that word on a daily basis and when you recognise that quality in someone point it out to them. Join my tribe through my website:


You may also like to read:

The Parent’s Playbook

What Are You Modelling Your Kids