Helpful or Hurtful?

Pause and Ask “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank


As a teacher, there were unlimited opportunities throughout the day to ask a child “Is this helpful or hurtful?” in my efforts to keep the peace and the tattling at bay. Asking this question of a child can empower them to come to a conclusion themselves and also to get them to really think about their words and actions and how they might affect others.

Is what you are doing helpful or hurtful?

Is what you are saying helpful or hurtful?

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized just how important this question really is. I still find myself asking my children this but now I realize the importance of asking this of myself.  In addition to asking myself “Is this helpful or hurtful?”  I might also ask:

Is what I’m about to say necessary?

Why am I saying it?

Can I say it another way?

If I must say it, can I soften it?  Keep it from becoming front page news?

Our words are powerful, so taking a moment to choose them carefully before speaking to our children, our spouse, the check-out person at the grocery store, especially if we are emotive, can be a game changer. It is perfectly acceptable to remove yourself, take a “time out”, ask for a moment before responding or simply pause before speaking.

So, pause, ask yourself this simple question. Is this helpful or hurtful?

Wishing you well.


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Photo Credit:  Daniela Spyropoulou - Dreamstime