There are things in life that are hard to explain to your children. Things that seem so easy. Like love, jealousy or what being mean could do. Those are feelings, deep feelings and how would you ever be able to clearly describe a deep feeling. Something we all know so well, have been through, have made our experiences with. Feelings we know and we might actually be able to describe.
But would we ever get even close to what it really feels like? The butterfly feeling love can give you. The pain it might inflict if your heart is broken. The nagging feeling jealousy can give you. And the pain, the sadness, the numbness being bullied can leave back inside of you.
I had a conversation about feelings with the kids lately. All of those mentioned above came up. And I realized how hard it is to actually make them understand something they have not been through just yet.
They know what love feels like, at least the love they have for their parents and their sibling. They know what jealousy feels like because, as we all know, they get jealous. Thankfully my children have not experienced the pain being bullied can leave behind. And I hope they never will. But I want them to understand how much damage can be done. So we did this little “experiment” with them. An experiment I’ve shared with you in a post last year and which I would like to share again in this Blast Of The Past.
“A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up but to not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was.
She then told them to tell it that they’re sorry and to try to fix the paper. When the kids thought they were done, she pointed out all the scars they’ve left behind. Those scars would never go away, no matter how hard they would try to fix it. It’s the same with bullying. Even though you might say that you are sorry, you might not be able to fix all the scars you’ve caused. Some of them might stay forever.”
The story I just shared with you has been around for a while now. I’ve heard it in different circumstances over and over again. The first time, I think, was about 10 years ago and it was simply about the word “sorry”. I remember that someone recommended it to me as a tool to teach kids about using the word “sorry” but continuing doing what they were doing.
In order to make them realize what their action and saying sorry were all about you gave the kids a piece of paper. Then they had to fold it and then unfold it and trying to make it look as perfect as possible again (to symbolize the action and then the apology). You then had them do it over and over again, each time folding the paper differently. In the end the marks on the paper were clearly there and there were a lot of them. The lesson for the kids would have been down the line of “it doesn’t really matter how often you say sorry. If you continue doing what you did and then simply apologize for the damage will eventually be too much.”
I like the use of that piece of paper to make kids aware of the fact, that their actions will not simply disappear. That they leave marks. I also love it when teachers or parents teach the kids that kind actions can lead to something amazing. Like making the kids plant something and then nurture and water it and watch it grow. By doing both we leave a strong message behind. A message and hopefully an understanding of how important our actions are. It’s important to realize that if we do something good, something great can grow out of it. If we continuously do something that hurts others the consequences might be around for a lifetime.
If we then manage to make our kids understand which of the two will be more rewarding we probably planted a very important seed for the future.