Ben Norris

May 4, 2021

Verbal violence

The words we speak or the tone we use can cause damage just as physical blows.

This evening I had a small altercation with my eight year old. It was nothing major. He refused to do his chores when it was clear that he wouldn’t get his turn on the Nintendo Switch since it was already bed time. He slammed the door and ran downstairs.

A few minutes later, I heard an object striking the door. Then another. I opened the door and saw him scurry away from the bottom of the stairs. Riled up, I marched down to his room and demanded that he clean up the toys he had thrown.

“There will be no turn at all tomorrow for you if you don’t clean up those toys!”

“I don’t care! I will never clean them up. I never want another turn ever!”

Thankfully, at that point I closed his door and went upstairs. A few minutes later, I heard something on the stairs again. I moved to the door and found it locked. As I unlocked it and went back down to his room, I was ready to lay down the law. I planned to speak harshly and let him know what he had done was wrong.

As I entered his room, and looked at him, a distinct thought came to my mind. I realized that the tone of voice I was about to use would strike him as clearly as if I had hit him. I saw, not a disobedient troublemaker, but a young boy angry and disappointed.

Luckily, I caught myself in time. I spoke calmly to him, and told him that going up and down the stairs would keep his baby brother awake and I needed him to not do that.

I felt a great sense of relief. Hopefully next time I can remember the first time to avoid verbal violence.