Here’s a story I found that I thought was really helpful as the school year is beginning in some places. Let me know what you think!
My daughter starts middle school tomorrow. We’ve decorated her locker, bought new uniforms, even surprised her with a new backpack. But tonight, just before bed, we did another pre-school year task that is far more important than the others.
I handed her a tube of toothpaste and asked her to squirt it out onto a plate. She looked at me quizzically, but I smiled and nodded for her to do it. When she finished, I calmly asked her to put all the toothpaste back in the tube. She looked at me as if I’d lost my mind! She began exclaiming things like “But I can’t!” and “It won’t be like it was before!”
I smiled, quietly waited for her to finish and then said the following:
“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.
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. 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.”
This works for all of us; not just for middle-schoolers. It works for all ages. While I have heard this story before with various items that are broken, this was the first time I had heard it with the plate and toothpaste image and I really liked it. So, of course, I had to share it with you!
Have you ever heard this one? Would you use this with your kids?
Do you have any parenting tips before school starts that will help to make a Joyful Change in the lives of your family, friends and loved ones? Please share!