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The Rainbow Promise

My daughter joined Rainbows recently. It is the youngest section of Girlguiding and was a long awaited ‘right of passage’ for her. She joined the waiting list when she was 3, ready to go when she finally hit the entry age!! Covid and lockdown delayed the start even further and finally she got through the door - via a hand sanitising station - and into the world of Rainbows!

She came home from Rainbows one evening - proud as punch she had learnt the Rainbows Promise. We were all asked to take a seat and pay attention while she preformed the promise to us. Her excitement was contagious!

(You will need to just imagine being there) Are you ready? Sitting comfortably?

"I promise that I will do my best to think about my beliefs and to be kind and helpful."

Short and sweet right?

At the time I thought that was a nice thing to say, as we all clapped, she took her bow and we were dismissed from our seats. I then shot back to whatever I was doing at the time… probably dishes… or laundry..

The brightly coloured worksheet with the printed Rainbow Promise then lay around various surfaces, as things tend to do in my house, and was moved from one unhelpful place to another, trying not to get it wet next to sink, or have splatters of food on it from being left on the table. All whilst in the background the TV reported horrors from around the world - of conflicts, fear, hate, pain, threats of war and all the other cruel things that humankind is capable of.

Suddenly that six year old’s Rainbow Promise seemed far more important, less of an annoying piece of paper and more of a beacon of hope. Imagine if our world leaders had to make the Rainbow Promise, AND be held accountable to it, what would the news headlines look like then?

On the LB Therapy Facebook group a member shared a video titled ‘How to Raise Kind Children’ by Becky Goddard-Hill (it is worth a watch). Of course all parents try to raise kind children, and we are often heard shouting from our seat at the side of the soft play “don’t hit the little boy Jamie, be kind!” or “ Now now Sophie, let’s not stick your finger up the little girls nose, that’s not kind!”

But it needs to be more than that doesn’t it? Becky Goddard-Hill’s call to action is for “kindness to be placed at the heart of parenting because with kindness we all rise”. Encouraging kindness in our children is not just for ‘behaviour management’ but to prepare them for the world that they will soon run, and that kindness not only serves others but serves themselves.

Interestingly, along with teaching our children how to be kind there is also a dialogue around the role of self-kindness. Modelling kindness to our children, or others around us. Now, I know most people find self-care difficult enough - so….how are we doing with self-kindness??? ….. silence…..

I am not going to talk about how we can be kind to ourselves here, I think my previous blogs cover some topics around this like managing mental overload, finding rest and understanding our feelings.

However, a key point in the role of self-kindness as a tool for modelling kindness to others, is being intentional and explicit, and these are two areas I discuss a lot within my coaching sessions - and worth spending some time thinking about.

Step one is to intentionally plan to engage in activities that provide self-kindness - whether that be a long soak in the bath, a walk in the woods, a telephone call with a friend or asking for help! (I know, I know.. did you choke on your cuppa there? It is a possibility! )

Step two (this is KEY) is to be explicit in stating what you are doing and why! Imagine this with me for a minute…

Imagine if your manager said in an email - “ It has been a tough week, I am logging off sharp and heading out for a walk to reset”

Imagine if your colleague said - “ I am feeling overwhelmed with the news headlines, going to call my friend tonight and have a good vent”

Imagine if you had heard your caregiver say - “ I am sorry I snapped, I am feeling a bit tired today, I am going to have an early night to make myself feel better”

Imagine if you had heard your parent say - “ Mrs Smith is dropping off a meal for us tonight, because I told her I was feeling a little sad and asked for help”

If it was part of common dialogue to talk about showing ourselves some kindness to manage how we feel would it change culture? Would it raise children who knew how to be kind to themselves and examples of practical acts of kindness they could do for others?

Next time you drop a card through someone’s door, send some flowers, take out a book to read rather than scroll on your phone - verbalise it. Tell the people around you why you are doing that, and what you are feeling. In turn, you might just give them permission to do the same.

Back to our Rainbow Promise… can you remember it? Come on, a room a six year old’s remembered it!

"I promise that I will do my best to think about my beliefs and to be kind and helpful."

When world events feel out of our control and we feel useless and overwhelmed - this is something we CAN do. We can demonstrate that we think about our beliefs, carefully. We can demonstrate how to look after our well-being by being kind to ourselves, others and our planet. We can raise children who can express how they feel and what they want to do to fix it.

Another TED talk speaker Anne Lamott said;

“You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too”

We are living in a world where being aggressive about your beliefs, and confrontational towards anyone who thinks the opposite is normal. We are scared to be curious and stray from the popular dialogue. If we could have conversations about those topics with kindness - maybe we would all get along far better in this roller-coaster called life, protecting it for the next generation.

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