Sticks and Stones

It’s funny how, as a child, my mum would repeat the adage ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’. Yet, here I am, edging closer to the big 4-0, and I’ve once again been reminded of the irony of this.

On New Year’s Eve, I rang the bell at my mum’s, laden down with bags for our overnight stay and listened as she thudded quickly down the stairs. Then there was a thump that didn’t sound like the others, accompanied by a cry of shock. My mum had missed the last step and lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. Despite her determination that it was just a strain, as the pain continued for a few days without relenting, she took a trip to A&E. Tests and X-rays confirmed there was a break and she is now in plaster, on crutches for the next couple of months.

This is not her first break, having broken her wrist playing netball at school, and indeed, both my sisters have broken wrists, fingers and noses in their time. My dad warned us from motorbikes with the story of his broken leg following an accident.

Yet, I remain completely unbroken. Not a break or even a fracture to my name. I’ve had RSI in both wrists that became carpal tunnel in my last pregnancy. I also had a nasty bout of SPD that still niggles occasionally. But no breaks despite these apparent weaknesses.

In fact, the closest I’ve come to breaking anything is through periods of self-harm driven by emotional bullying, or, in keeping with the title, name-calling. As mentioned in my last post, I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember and struggled with fitting in and feeling normal. This inevitably led to bullying which tortured my school days. I hated myself and needed to do something to make the pain tangible. All the time, my mother’s words would echo in my mind, the irony that I should be so hurt by the names I was being called not missing me.

I still have no idea what made me react like this to difficult times, but whenever I see my daughter, mid-tantrum, start behaviour that even comes close to self harm, it makes me want to scoop her up in my arms to protect her from the hell that is depression and self-hate. I vow to do everything in my power to help her understand and cope with her big emotions and frustrations as she grows. I will teach her self-worth and confidence and the importance of understanding why others may attack and how to manage them when they’re directed at her.

Anything at all to avoid watching history repeat itself.

How do you help your children manage difficult emotions, or grasp that sometimes other children can be mean but that they shouldn’t take it personally?  Please share your ideas and experiences, as I feel this is an area of paramount importance, yet I still struggle to know if I’m getting it right.