One woman found an incredibly way to teach a crucial lesson.
Rosie Dutton of Relax Kids, a U.K.-based company that deals with kids’ mindfulness and relaxation, teaches a weekly class for 10- and 11-year-olds. During a recent class, Dutton used apples to brilliantly illustrate the point that the effects of bullying aren’t always so conspicuous.
The coach, who documented the lesson in a now-viral Facebook post, started out by showing the class two typical, perfect-looking apples. But unbeknownst to the students, she had dropped one of the apples repeatedly on the floor. She picked up the dropped apple and began insulting it.
“I … started to tell the children how I disliked this apple, that I thought it was disgusting, it was a horrible [color] and the stem was just too short,” Dutton wrote. “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.”
They passed that apple around in a circle and the kids joined in on the insults. After, Dutton took a completely different approach with the other apple.
“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 [color] you are’ etc,” the 31-year-old wrote.
While both looked the same, she eventually cut both of them open to reveal that the apple that had been insulted was mushy and bruised inside. The apple that received praise wasn’t.
“When people are bullied, especially children, they feel horrible inside and sometimes don’t show or tell others how they are feeling,” Dutton wrote in her post, summarizing her lesson on empathy. “If we hadn’t have cut that apple open, we would never have known how much pain we had caused it.”
She told The Huffington Post in an email that she’s wanted to teach a class on the power of words and a recent experience with an unkind person further propelled her to tackle the subject of bullying.
“This gave me the added inspiration I needed to show children what our words can do to each other; we can build each other up, or we can break each other down,” Dutton said. “The bruised apple activity was the perfect visual to help children understand, and a powerful one at that.”
The 31-year-old noted that when she finally cut open the apples that day, the lesson really sank in.
“It was definitely a lightbulb moment for children (and adults) in the room,” Dutton said. “Before I cut the apples open I talked about how they resembled us, as people. They literally sat back and I could see in their faces they ‘got it.’ There was huge discussion afterwards.”
Dutton’s words seemed to have paid off. She said it was clear the children put what they learned to use. “They started talking about it straight away, making connections with moments in their lives.”
All in all, she hopes that by gaining a better sense of empathy and compassion, the kids can put their knowledge to good use
“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,” the 31-year-old explained in her post. She later added: “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.”
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