Woman Uses Toothpaste to Teach Daughter a Lesson

A Tennessee mom is sky-rocketing to viral fame thanks to a tube of toothpaste and her anti-bullying message.



In the now-viral Facebook post, Amy Beth Gardner relays a simple visual demonstration she conducted for her daughter using the toothpaste tube. The toothpaste can never be put back in the tube, she explains, just like bullying words cannot be unsaid once they leave a person's mouth.

"You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life," Amy told her daughter, according to the post. "Your words have the power of life or death. As you go into middle school, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry. You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others. You are also going to have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others. You will occasionally make the wrong choice; I can think of three times this week I have used my own words carelessly and caused harm. Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can't take them back."

As of the writing this article, her post has been shared more than 570,000 times.


Gardner's message about the lifelong impact of bullying has scientific merit.

As ATTN: noted in spring 2015, the effects of bullying linger well after childhood. Research from the Lancet medical journal found that childhood bullying can create mental health issues for people later in life and that bullied kids are five times more likely to suffer from anxiety and twice as likely to suffer from depression and self-harm than children who are abused by adults.

"It really does knock your self-esteem and how you approach people," study author Dr. Dieter Wolke told ATTN: at the time. "If you get bullied for a long time, you don't trust other people. We also found in a different study that you're less likely to [be able to] work in teams, to find a partner, to trust others, [and more likely to] leave a job sooner because you don't like the conflict."

Bullying, of course, can also be unbearable in the short-term. Last week, a 13-year-old boy named Danny Fitzpatrick committed suicide and left a note in which he described torment from his peers, and a lack of support from school officials.

"I am writing this letter to tell about my experience in Holy Angels Catholic Academy," Fitzpatrick wrote. "At first it was good ... lots of friends, good grades and great life. But I moved and went back but it was different. My old friends changed they didn't talk to me they didn't even like me."

He continued, "I gave up. The teachers [...] they didn't do anything."