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The toothpaste lesson

This week, we deviate a little bit from What the kids taught us with a reminder to brush their teeth, especially after enjoying their Halloween candy!  And on that note, it’s the perfect opportunity to share with them the toothpaste lesson.  It’s a simple but immensely powerful lesson that can show kids the power of words… especially mean ones.

The toothpaste lesson is simple.

  1. Ask your child to squeeze out an entire tube of toothpaste onto a plate.
  2. When your child has finished, ask him or her to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Some kids will try!  Others will jump straight to concluding that it’s impossible! or quickly discover that it’s very difficult to make any kind of meaningful progress.  No matter their reaction, allow them a generous amount of time to try and sort it out.  The timing is important because it highlights the actual amount of effort and frustration involved in trying to “put it back”.

No matter their level of success in cleaning up the mess, the explanation is the same: Just like the toothpaste, the words you say…  once they leave your mouth…  It’s near impossible to  take them back.  And despite all the possible actions you could take to clean up the situation, it just wouldn’t be the same.  Sometimes, trying to clean it up can cause even more of a mess, and the small mess becomes a bigger one! 

In the digital age, the toothpaste also works as an analogue for posting online, text messaging, and other forms of sharing.  Once it’s out there, it’s out there! So it’s very important to consider the words you say, and the messages you want to put out into the world.  Especially if the words are harmful! 

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