Navigating middle school for the first time is no easy task—experiencing puberty is daunting enough, now add in cliques, social media, friends, classes, and extracurriculars. That’s why one mom by the name of Amy Beth Gardner chose to teach her daughter a valuable lesson on being kind to everyone before her first day of school. Gardner’s toothpaste demonstration—which applies to middle school and life in general—has now gone viral on Facebook and we suggest you try it out on your own kids.
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The night before her daughter’s first day of middle school, Gardner was prepping new backpacks and uniforms while planning locker decorations when she presented her daughter with, “another pre-middle school task that is far more important than the others.” Gardner grabbed a tube of toothpaste and had her daughter empty it onto a plate before prompting her to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Her daughter contested saying, "But I can't!" and "It won't be like it was before!”
That’s when Gardner patiently explained how this experiment packs a powerful message, “You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life. Your words have the power of life or death. As you go into middle school, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry. You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others. You are also going to have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others."
We love how Gardner's words are forceful, truthful, and thoughtful. She doesn't sugar-coat the impact her daughter's words can have on another person—a crucial message shared during our current climate of cyberbullying, suicide, and school shootings.
Gardner continued, “You will occasionally make the wrong choice; I can think of three times this week I have used my own words carelessly and caused harm. Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can't take them back. Use your words carefully, Breonna. When others are misusing their words, guard your words. Make the choice every morning that life-giving words will come out of your mouth. Decide tonight that you are going to be a life-giver in middle school. Be known for your gentleness and compassion. Use your life to give life to a world that so desperately needs it. You will never, ever regret choosing kindness.”
We have the feeling middle school would be a lot friendlier of a place if every kid was instilled with this life-long token of wisdom before their first day. With 1.3 million likes, more than 1,380,000 shares, and 800 comments, we weren’t surprised to see others positively chiming in and taking notes:
“Great parenting, MOM!!!!! I like this lesson, too!!!” wrote Karen Bouchard Wheeless.
“We used this in our children’s class as an object lesson!!! Such a valuable and effective message!” wrote Joni Borrell.
“Great. schools should do this while they are in class with their classmates...” wrote Lucille Wright-Wilson
“What a beautiful way to explain "life"...not only middle school.” wrote Lee Crawford.
Such a simplistic, extraordinary lesson was spelled out for Gardner’s daughter in a matter of minutes. It's important to remember that making a lasting impression on your child can take little-to-no effort yet stick with them for life. We commend Gardner for not only sharing this message with her daughter but with the public, too—we only hope other parents will follow her example.