How can a tube of toothpaste teach us about gratitude?

I recall a story by Amy Beth Gardner who spoke of a mother who taught her teenage daughter a valuable lesson when she started High School.

For teenagers starting High School can be a pressure tank full of difficulties, conflicts, physical growth, and strong emotions.  It is often a time full of challenges.

They had done the new uniform, school bag, and other things in preparation for her first day at High School.  After dinner Mum got a plate and a tube of toothpaste.  She asked her daughter to squeeze the toothpaste onto the plate.  When her daughter had done this, her Mum asked her to put the toothpaste back into the tube.  Well, you can imagine the carry on with the daughter saying, “I can’t do that” and “It won’t go back in the tube” and “the tube won’t be the same again.”  Mum waited patiently until all calmed down, and then told her daughter the following:

You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life.  Your words have the power of life and death.  When you go to High School you will see the significance of the words you speak.  You will have the opportunity to use your words to demand, discredit or hurt others.  You will also have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire, and love others.  Sometimes you’ll make the wrong decisions, and we all do that.  Just like the toothpaste on the plate, as soon as the words come out of your mouth, you cannot take them back.  Use your words carefully.  When others do not choose their words wisely, keep yours.  Choose every day that you will speak life-giving words.  Choose tonight that you will give life in high school.  Let people recognise you for the gentle and compassionate person that you are.  Use your life to give life to the world that so desperately needs it. 

This is a very powerful example of the way we should be raising our children.  Some would say it is too late for their teens, and most would ask where and how do we begin?

It is never too late to start!  We start with ourselves.  What is my attitude to life?  Is it one of thankfulness and expressing gratitude toward others?  We can’t expect our children to have grateful hearts and choose to speak words of life unless we first set the example.  We need to have and live an Attitude of Gratitude, then, we can help others to achieve a happier and more productive life.

The words we speak can build or they can tear down.  Choose wisely and always be grateful in whatever situation you find yourself.  “The power of life and death is in the tongue.”

Have a look at some of the material we have on our website that you can use to express gratitude and add value to someone else’s life.

Robert J Burman
Coordinator – National Day of Thanks

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