It’s no secret that starting a new school can be a terrifying experience, especially if that new school is middle school. Along with worrying about where classes are and remembering locker combinations, many kids also fret about their fellow classmates. Will they be nice or will they be mean?
Kids aren’t the only ones who worry about how other students will treat each other, parents worry too. And that’s why Amy Beth Gardner, a mother of two, decided to teach her oldest daughter, Breonna, a lesson on kindness the day before she started middle school.
In a Facebook post that has now been shared over one million times, Gardner shows the unique way she taught her daughter to be careful about the words she chooses to use.
Gardner prepared her daughter for middle school with new clothes, a new backpack, and a powerful lesson.
On the night before Breonna’s first day of school, Gardner handed her daughter a tube of toothpaste and a plate. She asked Breonna to squeeze the toothpaste onto the plate and like any child given permission to make a mess, Breonna happily obeyed. However, Gardner was met with a bit of resistance when she asked her 11-year-old to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
Gardner wrote in her post that Breonna insisted that she couldn’t and said “It won’t be like it was before!” Once Breonna quieted, Gardner explained the reasoning for the impossible task she assigned her daughter.
“Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can’t take them back,” Gardner wrote.
At first emptying the tube of toothpaste seemed pointless, but Gardner had an important point to make.
The mother of two told TODAY Parents that she spent weeks thinking about how she was going to prepare her daughter for middle school and the thought came to her while she was brushing her teeth one night.
Gardner told Breonna that when she entered middle school she would start to see how much words mean. Words are a very powerful tool and when chosen poorly they can “hurt, demean, slander and wound others,” but they also have the power to “heal, encourage, inspire and love others.”
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.
This lesson on kindness is just one of many that Gardner has taught her daughters, whom she adopted with her husband after the two fostered them starting in 2014.
She says that every day she tells Breonna how important she is and how she believes in her.
“I know that, as she becomes a pre-teen and teenager, the world is going to tell her what to believe about herself,” Gardner told TODAY Parents. “I want her to hear my voice first each morning telling her what I see in her and how proud I am of her.”
Judging by Gardner’s creative lesson on the power of words and the morning ritual she shares with her older daughter, Breonna is more than prepared to take on whatever middle school throws at her.
You can read Gardner’s entire post here.