Sticks and stones
Sticks and stones
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
I’m almost always online. Whether it’s at work or at home, I’m usually a click away from Twitter or some other platform. Mostly, it’s because I find it fun, informative or relaxing. If you spend much time online, though, you’ll notice that people can get easily involved in arguments.  A little like siblings when they’ve spent too much time indoors when it rains. The bickering sets in

My children are usually fantastic together. They help each other out, and are (relatively) good at sharing. But, they are children, so they do get niggly sometimes:

Stop copying me/you’re sitting in MY place/you hurt me, now I’m going to hurt you back/idiot… They’re not allowed to call each other names, but they do anyway.

A little like some online types: If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the comments section of any YouTube video for a few examples. Stupid video, someone will say. You’re a jerk, someone else will say. Not always in the most pleasant ways, either.

When I was a kid at school, we were told to chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” to ward off verbal abuse. I suspect it was to help the teachers and parents avoid having to settle endless arguments.

Even parents can get upset with each other over parenting styles and choices, or out of simple ratty, tired, stressed exhaustion.

I generally try to stay out of arguments. Unless I feel strongly about something. Even then, arguments seldom achieve satisfaction for anyone involved. Walk away, I’ll suggest to my kids, when they’re in a futile argument over nothing-too-serious. I know they need to stand up for what’s right, but that doesn’t apply to who has to sit in the middle seat in the car, or who gets the piece of cake with the Smartie on top.

Words are actually more powerful than sticks and stones. They can create, build or encourage. They can hurt more than blunt objects, too, if used the wrong way, so it makes sense to me to encourage my children with words, in the hope that they’ll do the same.

Imagine an internet with nothing but encouragement (in the midst of constructive criticism, of course). A place where our children will one day be spending lots of time, if they’re city kids. It’s definitely worth spending time teaching them online etiquette, and how to walk away when someone insults them.
But then, maybe we’re just doomed to insult each other forever. Which do you think is better, teaching your kids how to argue, how to walk away, or how to encourage others?

Let’s be more constructive with our sticks, stones and words.

How do you deal with your kids arguing? Tell us at and you could win a R250 voucher.

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