Words are like a tube of toothpaste. To really drive this home, students were asked to squeeze out an entire tube of toothpaste together and then, challenged to put all the toothpaste back inside. Students were puzzled as they knew that would not be possible.
Students tried with all their might but ended up getting barely any back into the tube, made a big mess, and had to resort to cutting the tube in half to stick it back in, but even then, they could not manage to do so. I asked students to imagine the toothpaste as words.
Sometimes, children, and even adults, can get careless with our “toothpaste.” It can accidentally leak, or maybe purposefully, out of the cap and make a mess! When we’re sloppy with our words, we make messes – we end up with bad moods and hurt feelings…
Student: “Yes, but we can say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I was just kidding’.”
Me: “But that doesn’t take the sting of those words away, does it? Long after you have forgotten what you’ve said, the person you spoke those words to will remember it. You can’t take it back, just like you can’t put toothpaste back into the tube.”
After a long time of reflecting and sharing with each other times that we have been hurt and also, times we have been the ones behind hurtful words, we concluded that we would do our best to let our words pass three gates before exiting our mouths:
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it helpful?