After a long week of watching her children hurl some pretty hurtful comments at each other, Melissa of the blog BeyondMommying had had enough. Whether it be the holiday stresses or just your basic sibling rivalries, countless conversations about kindness and loving one another seemed to be falling on deaf ears. Then, she came up with a brilliant way to not only tell but also to SHOW her kids how damaging unkind words can be.
Melissa started with her daughters. She gave each of them a brand new sheet of white paper and asked them to write down how they wanted others to treat them.
“I prompted them with thought starters like “I want other people to…” and “Others should treat me…” Melissa explained on her blog.
When they finished, Melissa had the girls hand each other their paper and read their sister’s feelings aloud.
After they finished reading each other’s heartfelt words Melissa turned to her girls.
“Do you understand how your sister wants to be treated?’ They both nodded.
‘Then say ‘I don’t care!’ and crumple up your sister’s feelings.'”
The girls, who had been taught never to destroy something that someone cared about, were rightly shocked by their mothers request. What? And, ruin my sister’s work?
But, they did as they were told. The papers were both crumpled into tiny balls. The girls were silent.
Melissa then explained that “when you do mean, hateful or hurtful things to other people, it’s the same as taking their feelings and crumpling them up.”
When asked how they might fix what they had done to hurt their sister, the girls quickly offered that they should say they were sorry. Their Mom told them that was right but, what were they going to do to help fix the now-ruined paper.
Both girls immediately worked hard to straighten out the other’s paper. Pressing it. Smoothing it. And, to some degree, it worked. But there were still wrinkles in the papers…lingering memories of a careless and hurtful action.
“And that’s exactly how it is with people’s feelings,” their Mom explained. “No matter what you do, or say, once you’ve wrinkled another person’s feelings, those marks will always be there.” And, how right she is. We’re guessing the rest of the week might have gone a little smoother for Melissa’s family.
Of course, sibling rivalry will never disappear completely. It’s just part of growing up. Brothers and sisters will nudge and poke, tease and taunt until the end of time. But, there comes a time when a little life lesson comes in handy.
Because kindness matters…even when it comes to that super annoying little brother.