Explore Nueroscience in Education with Dr. Lori Desautels

The Wolves of Love and Hate

There is nothing more important in this time inside our classrooms than connecting to the heart and minds of our students. As I researched ways to engage the fifth grade students I am co-teaching this fall, I wrote this short story that I hope will promote conversation, questions and a stronger sense of self  as they begin to integrate their identity and personhood into their social and academic lives! PLease feel free to change this up, modify and make it your own with your students as you address the powers of thought, the neuroplasticity of learning and the social and emotional skills that intimately affect achievement and student growth in all areas!


The Wolves of Love and Hate

Appropriate for 4th through 8th grade


The deep throaty growls followed by high pitched howls awakened me one morning as I sat up in bed! Was I dreaming? Were those sounds coming from under the bed? Were they in my closet or somewhere near? I shook my head and then rubbed my eyes trying to shake the sleep from my body and suddenly, I   remembered the story and the dream. The grayish brown wolves spoke to me as I listened to each of their whispered stories. There were two wolves with large brown eyes that lived inside my heart and it was up to me which one grew bigger and stronger! Now the story was becoming more than a dream.  My heart beat faster, as I sensed their hunger, their howls and conversation inside my head and heart.

One wolf was named the “wolf of love.” He was a bit gentler and kinder but only when I fed him the food he loved! He was hungry for kindness and for forgiveness.  Each time I shared a kind thought with others, this was his favorite food!  When I spoke to my friends and family about how I truly felt, this wolf was fed! When I helped someone else feel just a little bit better, this wolf gobbled up the food and was satisfied. His favorite food was when I spoke compassionately about myself. His favorite meal was when I had been “unkind to myself or others,”  but then quickly remembered how this felt in my heart, and said “I’m sorry!” He loved this food more than any other. This “wolf of love” when fed, made my heart feel stronger and bigger! I felt excited about my life and no matter what others said or did to me, when I fed this wolf with my dreams and hopes; I continued to feel stronger and more peaceful!

The other was named the “wolf of hate.” This wolf felt scared and angry to me and the more anxious and angry I became with myself and others, the more powerful this wolf felt; eating up those thoughts that made me and others feel bad.  Sometimes, I just felt so angry that I lashed out at my friends and family, and this seemed to be his favorite food!  When I became argumentative, pushy, irritable or judgmental, this wolf was fed. When I lost my temper and became impatient, I ended up again feeding this wolf, and he grew a bit stronger and larger!

As I lay across my bed under the cool sheets watching the sliver of sun peek through the clouds, I thought about both wolves that have always lived inside my heart. They have made their home there, but now I realized that I had power and control over the wolf that took up the most space and time. I realized that the wolf of hate and the wolf of love were guiding me to find happiness, peacefulness and ways to help myself and others. I realized that without the wolf of hate, I would not know or understand that the wolf of love needed to be fed, so that I could return to feeling better and happier.   My dream reminded me that I get to choose which wolf I feed and which one grows stronger and more powerful. I know that there will be days, that I might feed the wolf of hate, but I also know that the wolf of love lives with compassion inside my heart waiting patiently for me each and every moment.

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