My take on ways forward after the riots.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
The riots in the UK shocked the world but I believe that good will come from the ashes of the burning cars and the looted shops as we will as a Nation begin to look at the underlying causes to such wilful and reckless looting, greed and disaffection.
It has become the norm, over recent years, for some kids to aspire to celebrity status regardless of talent, ability or expertise. Youngsters are drawn into a world of aspiring and thinking they can win The X factor, or can simply marry a footballer as a way to gain wealth, status, power or self esteem.
Life is rarely that easy !
I sat with my friend Nicky, who is a SENCO Special Needs teacher in a deprived area, on Sunday reading the Sunday papers in a café in Teddington, after having watched the Olympic Cycle Test race go through London, and we were discussing role models for kids.
We found it difficult to think of any.
I mentioned the awesome England cricket players, she mentioned some rugby players and we both mentioned our own fathers but not many of the kids involved in the riots would aspire to these role models I think.
I wrote an article called Heroes, Role Models and David Beckham – being a super hero to your kids. as I don’t think it’s helpful to finger point and try and blame single parents, teenage pregnancies or poverty for all of last week’s rioting. As I said on the BBC Radio Wales phone-in poverty doesn’t not necessarily mean poor parenting. My mother was the eldest of 7 and my grandparents found time to talk with their kids, play with them and instil the values of honesty, integrity and “right” and “wrong” in my aunts and uncles.
My friend Nicky is one of 7 and they didn’t have a great deal of money growing up, but her parents valued education, good manners and held high aspirations for each of their children. Nicky has fantastic videos of her family camping in Scotland, eating together, playing together in their back garden and respecting each other.
For years Oprah Winfrey has been advocating doing simple acts of kindness every day. These acts don’t have to be expensive or complicated. They can be simply a pleasant smile, holding the door open for someone, giving up your seat without being told to,or helping someone needing help.
It can be a kind word, paying someone a sincere compliment, or a thoughtful gesture.
People feel nurtured, respected and most importantly valued from such small but important actions.
This is about having a positive mindset, a positive attitude and an openess of spirit and this is where we can all begin.
Compassion, co –operation, caring for brothers and sisters, neighbours, each other, the elderly, the young, the less able, builds strong families, builds strong communities and
builds the “WE” mentality we all need to nurture within our society.
Having a kind and thoughtful mentality comes from positive, confident role models and is not dependent on economics – as these important values of the heart cannot be legislated for,or imposed upon from outside of ourselves.
I always teach the children on my Confidence Classes for Kids Workshops that integrity is doing the right thing when no- one is watching.
We must talk and teach our kids to like who they see in the mirror each morning.
We all need to feel nurtured and nourished by the kind gestures of others.
Kids need confident and positive parents; they need praise, hugs, laughter, and allowed to be play innocently. They need to be read to, played with and listened to – as kids spell love T-I-M-E.
We need to teach kids right from the beginning to have strong self esteem, self belief and self confidence. We need to encourage them to dream big dreams and to have high expectations for themselves and for their life and then we need to support them, encourage them, motivate them and be there for them when they wobble or falter in believing they can do, be or have anything they want in life.
We need to teach them that life is never completely easy and success means different things to different people. Someone may want a BMW whereas someone else
may want a Ford Focus, someone may want to be a self employed plumber whereas someone else may want to be a lawyer, someone may want to live in the city,
someone else may want to live in the country – thank goodness we don’t all want them same things as success is personal.
We need to hold out a helping hand not finger point and blame young people for not knowing who they are, where they are going and what possibilities lie before them.
We also need to remember that a person’s past does not have to equal their future.
Since the beginning of time all great teachers, and mentors have talked about love and compassion and have helped people discover their own path – asking great questions to help people find their own answers.
That’s why I’d like to see Life Coaching introduced in to schools.
There is no time- scale for changing the world. The only important thing is to begin.
It’s true that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Our step here in the UK is to come together to try to solve the fear, isolation, anger, disillusionment and violence of the last few week’s rioting.
Changing the culture of gangs, binge drinking, drugs and violence won’t just happen by itself or through the acts of powerful world leaders or politicians. It will happen from day to day in small acts of kindness, compassion and co operation shared inside families and between small groups and communities.
Begin in your home.
Begin in your community.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Begin with yourself.
If you don’t have the opportunity to do great things, do small things in a great way.