-- Middle school is never easy.
That's why this mom decided to share an important lesson with her daughter before sending her off to the scary world of sixth grade.
Amy Gardner, a mother of two living in Cleveland, Tennessee, shared a post on Facebook Sunday detailing an exercise she did with her eldest daughter, 11-year-old Breonna, to demonstrate the power and permanence of her words.
Gardner instructed her daughter to squeeze a tube of toothpaste out onto a plate. When she was done, she asked her to put the pile of toothpaste back into the tube. Her daughter replied that she couldn't do it, that it would never be the same, prompting Gardner to compare the sloppy pile of paste to a person's words.
"Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can't take them back," Gardner wrote in her Facebook post.
"Going to middle school, I wanted to equip Breonna with the knowledge that her words carry so much weight," Gardner told ABC News. "She chooses her words, and she can use them to help people or to harm people."
"We certainly don’t expect Breonna not to make mistakes in middle school," Gardner explained to ABC News, "but we want to help her."
Gardner notes that exercises like this are especially important for her two daughters, both of whom were originally taken in as foster children. Breonna was 9 when Gardner and her husband, Paul, decided to become foster parents to her and her younger sister, who is now 7. The couple has since adopted both girls.
While most parents have 18 years to guide their child toward becoming responsible young adults, Gardner points out that she and her husband have only half of that time with Breonna before she leaves the nest.
"It's really important to me, only having 9 years with Breonna, to produce a child that’s learned that she needs to be responsible for her actions and her words," Gardner said.
Gardner added that she also began spending a few minutes each morning looking her daughter in the eye and reminding her of who she is and what she is capable of.
"I feel like I'm about to send her into a world that's going to tell her so many other things about who she is and what she can do," Gardner said of the wrath of middle school. She added, "I tell her all the time, I don’t care how popular she is, she’s popular in this home."