Crumpled Paper: An Object Lesson in Being Nice

An Object Lesson in Being Nice.

I hear many people bring their kids home to homeschool because their kids were bullied in school.  Sadly, bullying can happen even in a homeschool situation.  We’ve actually been dealing with this more than I would like.  With 4 boys, it’s easy for 2 or 3 to gang up on one.  Yes, I’m there to intervene but I would rather it not happen at all.  I want them to treat each other with respect when I’m there and when I’m not.

My super, amazing, awesome, really cool friend told me about this idea she got from Pinterest.  Use a crumpled piece of paper to teach about treating other people with respect, not to bully and just plain treat each other right. Sometimes I’m astounded by the sheer awesomeness of some people.  Who comes up with this stuff?  Just amazing.

So I gathered the boys together and gave each of them a perfectly crisp piece of paper.  Then I told them to crumple it up into a ball to which they happily obliged. They crumpled it, stomped on it, sat on it, threw it across the room, and mashed them into oblivion. They were more than happy to do their worst to their poor piece of paper.

Next I asked them to smooth it out.  They smoothed it out on the table, tightly pulled it along the edge, one of them even ran it under water to try to smooth out the wrinkles (which thankfully didn’t really work either).

Then I asked them, “Is it fixed?  Is it like it was when I first gave it to you?”  Nope, not even close.

“Ok, now say you’re sorry.” Which they all did, in a silly mocking way.

“Did that make it better?”

“No.” Of course not, it didn’t fix anything.

“How about if you say it like you really really mean it?”

They gave it their best, some very heartfelt apologies. They are surprisingly good actors.

Nope, the paper was still a horribly marred mess.

“What did make it better?”

Smoothing it out did make it better than a crumpled up ball.  So action, doing something, did help.

“Is the paper like it was before you crumpled it up into a ball?”

No. It’s scarred. It will never be the same.

“So what can we do to keep from scarring the paper?”

Aah, don’t crumple it up in the first place.

The same goes for our relationships with others.  If you are mean to someone, say something bad, call them a name, even hurt them physically, it’s like crumpling them up into a ball. You can apologize but that doesn’t fix what you did.  You can pick them up, give them a hug, do whatever you can to make them feel better and that might really help.  But there will still be scars.  When they see you, they’ll be reminded of how you treated them before.

So if you hear me tell my boys, “Don’t crumple your brother!” you’ll know what I mean.


2 comments to Crumpled Paper: An Object Lesson in Being Nice

  • kami

    I’ve seen this a couple of times, and I get the point it is trying to make, and I do understand it, but I guess as a religious person I will also say I think that it can be healed completely through the power of god. though the person who crumpled the paper might not be able to make it completely clean again, there is a power greater than us who can. when I was in elementary school I was picked on, people were rather mean to me, then later in high school I became really good friends with one of the girls who picked on me. do I remember what she did before, yes, but do I think of it every time I see her, or think about her, no. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, but people have the power to truly move on. Do I feel scared and flawed because of my experiences, nope. it happened, it’s over, life’s good.

  • Jessica

    I’m an educator at an After School Program. I’ve been scouring the internet for something simple to help me with a discussion on respecting other people. This is GREAT! I’m so excited about it. I’ve found tons of resources but most of them are too long and the kids lose interest half way through and never get the message or the lesson plan is so silly even I can’t take it serious and really learn from it. Thank you so much for posting this little gem!

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