You know the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I understand the intention, but what I’ve never liked about that phrase is that words really can hurt. And if we keep saying that they don’t hurt us, we may just start to think they don’t hurt others either. When you’re involved in sports, you’re inevitably going to experience disappointment when you practice, whether you’re playing to win or are playing to learn. It is critical for children to learn healthy ways of dealing with that disappointment. Some kids give up on sports altogether because the pressure of handling their emotions is too much (I was one of those kids, sadly). Other children pick inappropriate ways of dealing with disappointment, which may mean visible and/or audible outbursts. Others may be silently degrading themselves for mistakes that lead to disappointment. Letting your kids know that what they feel is valid and then helping give them a variety of healthy ways to process and let go of that feeling will be beneficial in the end. I love the saying, “all emotions are acceptable, but not all behaviors are appropriate” (Kimochis®). Teaching kids acceptable ways of dealing with the emotion of disappointment helps to ensure they don’t behave in ways that are not appropriate, either hurting others or themselves with careless or unkind words. At the end of the day, words really can hurt you.