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Mom uses a plate of toothpaste to teach her daughter a simple, but effective lesson on the power of words before she embarks on middle school.

For many, middle school is  gawky in-between phase filled with hormonal changes, pimples and name calling. The huge spectrum of developmental and maturity levels creates a melting pot, and the potential for bullying.

On the night before school started, Amy Beth Gardner from Cleveland, Tennessee, took a tube of toothpaste and squirted it all out onto a plate, and then instructed her 11-year-old daughter to put it all back inside.

She posted an image of the toothpaste on the plate and uploaded it to Facebook with her words of advice. It has since gone viral, and for the best of reasons….


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-middle school task that is far more important than the others. I gave her a tube of toothpaste and asked her to squirt it out onto a plate. When she finished, I calmly asked her to put all the toothpaste back in the tube. She began exclaiming things like ‘But I can’t!’ and ‘It won’t be like it was before!’ I 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, 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.”

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