The most powerful endorphin to relieve your pain. From Columbia, Missouri

by beta-endorphin
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Please don't put holes in other people

When I confronted my daughter after she hurt another child with a mean comment, she cried and immediately wanted to apologize. That was a good thing, but I wanted her to know an apology can't always make things better.

I told her the parable of Will, a 9-year-old whose father abandoned his mom two years earlier. Will was angry, and he often lashed out at others with hurtful words. He once told his mom, "I see why Dad left you!"

Unable to cope with his cruel outbursts, she sent him to his grandparents for the summer. His grandfather's strategy to help Will learn self-control was to make him go into the garage and pound a two-inch-long nail into a four-by-four board every time he said a mean thing.

For a small boy, this was a major task, and he couldn't return until the nail was all the way in. After about ten trips to the garage, Will began to be more cautious about his words. Eventually, he even apologized for all the bad things he'd said.

That's when his grandmother stepped in. She told him to bring in the board filled with nails and instructed him to pull them all out. This was even harder than pounding them in, but after a huge struggle, he did it.

His grandmother hugged him and said, "I appreciate your apology, and of course I forgive you because I love you, but I want you to know an apology is like pulling out one of these nails. Look at the board. The holes are still there. The board will never be the same. Your dad put a hole in you, Will, but please don't put holes in other people. You're better than that."

A fourth-grade teacher once told me how she relates this story to her class. When a child says or does an unkind thing, she says, "Did you just put a nail in someone?" Then she'll ask, "Did you take it out?"

She says her students always know what she's talking about and recognize what they did was wrong, which isn't always the case if she just asks what happened, which usually results in the child blaming everyone else.

She also urges students who've been hurt not to automatically reply, "That's all right" after an apology because usually what was done was not all right and the person who said it didn't feel it was all right either. She tells her class to say instead: "I accept your apology" or "I forgive you."

The teacher uses the story to help her kids understand difficult family matters outside the classroom, too. She tells them some people will never take out the nails they've pounded into them, but everyone has the power to pull them out themselves and get on with their life rather than let others rule them.

She told me, "The story is simple, but the message is powerful—especially when reinforced with 'You're better than that.'"
by beta-endorphin | 2009-09-28 12:33 | english expression