A mom in Tennessee gave her 11-year-old daughter a lesson in kindness that she will probably remember the rest of her life.
The night before Breonna's first day of middle school, Amy Beth Gardner made sure her daughter was prepared with a new uniform and a backpack — but she saved the most important task for just before bed.
"I came up with [it] as I was brushing my teeth the other night," Gardner told TODAY Parents. "I had been thinking for weeks about how my daughter was entering middle school and how I wanted to prepare her as best as I could."
Gardner says she told her daughter to squirt an entire tube of toothpaste on a plate. After the 11-year-old completed the task, Gardner told her to "put all of the toothpaste back in the tube."
After Breonna complained about the impossibility of this task, Gardner explained that this was an analogy for "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," Gardner told her, according to a Facebook post. "Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can't take them back."
Gardner posted a Facebook photo of the squirted toothpaste with her story. As of August 18, her post has received over 660,000 Facebook shares.
According to NoBullying.com, more than one out of every four students in grades 6-12 experience bullying, most of which occurs during middle school. A 2012 UCLA study concluded that being a bully is considered to be a favorable social status in the grades leading up to high school, which explains the rise in bullying during those years.
Gardner hopes that her toothpaste analogy inspires her daughter to make a difference in middle school with her words.
"Going to middle school, I wanted to equip Breonna with the knowledge that her words carry so much weight," Gardner told ABC News. "She chooses her words, and she can use them to help people or to harm people."
A Plus reached out to Gardner for a comment.