Words as Violence

In his new book, Girls on the Edge, Dr. Leonard Sax offers some advice that is helpful in building resilience in kids, and on pushing back on a disturbing cultural trend. That trend is the growing belief that unkind words are actually a form of violence. Sax says that words are not violence. Yes, words can be cruel, just as violence can be cruel. But words and violence are not the same thing. Sax says that we are training our kids to make mountains out of molehills. We are nurturing them to be fragile rather than resilient and robust. He writes, “If you tell a child that they will be harmed by unkind words and that unkind words are a form of violence, then you increase the risk that a child will actually experience harm when they hear unkind words. And rare is the child who will ever get through childhood without hearing an unkind word. But if you tell a child they are strong enough to keep from allowing words to hurt them, then you will decrease the risk of that child experiencing any lasting harm.