Stories about bullying all over the news and social media these days, I’ve written a fair amount of sad stories myself, citing a tragedy that was brought upon by bullying, and urging parents to teach their kids how to treat others. It is a message I’ll keep spreading until I don’t have to anymore.
I saw a viral post on Facebook by Relax Kids Tamworth that really drove the message of how to treat others home in an unforgettable way. Though the post is two years old and has been shared over 245,000 times, I’d never seen it before! I was really touched by it and so of course I wanted to share it with you. Relax Kids teaches “Activity and relaxation classes – creating calm, confident children,” according to their Facebook page, and used this illustration in one of their classes.
Teaching kids how to treat others with just two apples
The teacher posted this photo of two very different looking apples, and said this:
Today in one of our classes I introduced the children to two apples (the children didn’t know this, but before the class I had repeatedly dropped one of the apples on the floor, you couldn’t tell, both apples looked perfect). We talked about the apples and the children described how both apples looked the same; both were red, were of similar size and looked juicy enough to eat.
I picked up the apple I’d dropped on the floor and started to tell the children how I disliked this apple, that I thought it was disgusting, it was a horrible colour and the stem was just too short. I told them that because I didn’t like it, I didn’t want them to like it either, so they should call it names too.
Some children looked at me like I was insane, but we passed the apple around the circle calling it names, ‘you’re a smelly apple’, ‘I don’t even know why you exist’, ‘you’ve probably got worms inside you’ etc.
We really pulled this poor apple apart. I actually started to feel sorry for the little guy.
We then passed another apple around and started to say kind words to it, ‘You’re a lovely apple’, ‘Your skin is beautiful’, ‘What a beautiful colour you are’ etc.
I then held up both apples, and again, we talked about the similarities and differences, there was no change, both apples still looked the same.
I then cut the apples open. The apple we’d been kind to was clear, fresh and juicy inside.
The apple we’d said unkind words to was bruised and all mushy inside.
I think there was a lightbulb moment for the children immediately. They really got it, what we saw inside that apple, the bruises, the mush and the broken bits is what is happening inside every one of us when someone mistreats us with their words or actions.
When people are bullied, especially children, they feel horrible inside and sometimes don’t show or tell others how they are feeling. If we hadn’t have cut that apple open, we would never have known how much pain we had caused it.
I shared my own experience of suffering someone’s unkind words last week. On the outside I looked OK, I was still smiling. But, on the inside someone had caused me a lot of pain with their words and I was hurting.
Unlike an apple, we have the ability to stop this from happening. We can teach children that it’s not ok to say unkind things to each other and discuss how it makes others feel. We can teach our children to stand up for each other and to stop any form of bullying, just as one little girl did today when she refused to say unkind words to the apple.
More and more hurt and damage happens inside if nobody does anything to stop the bullying. Let’s create a generation of kind, caring children.
The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.
I don’t know about you, but this made me feel ALL kinds of WOW after I read it.
WOW, this is profound! WOW, this is powerful! WOW, this is so easy for kids to understand and take to heart!
I kinda can’t wait to share this with my own kiddos! I’ve got a son heading into high school in just a couple of weeks and a daughter heading into sixth grade, so I think it’s a great time for a refresher on how to treat people. But since I often like to back up my parenting lessons with some good old scripture, I thought I’d provide some Bible verses to share with them that you can share with your children, too.
Bible verses about how to treat others
Here are some Bible verses about how to treat others. All are from the English Standard Version:
Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Luke 6:31: And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
John 15:12: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Matthew 7:12: So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Mark 12:31: The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
Of course there are many more verses throughout scripture that urge us to love others well and specifically tell us how to treat others, even in situations of conflict, but these are a few helpful ones to start with. One thing I think it’s important to emphasize to out kids when we’re talking to them about how to treat others that we are ALL made in God’s image, and that he created us and cares for us equally. Even those who are unkind to us have the same value in God’s eyes. There is literally nothing we can do to make God love us more or less than He loves another person.
So, what do you think of the “bullied apple” demonstration? I for one think it’s a lesson that makes it easy for kids to understand how words can hurt, and one that will stick with kids as well. Will you be doing this demo for your kiddos?