Yesterday I decided to take my daughter to the local park. She is 18 months old and her love in life is the swing. Hours we could spend swinging her.
As we approached the field, from a distance, we could see three teenage boys at the children’s swing. They had done the normal and tied the swing up by turning it over and over the bar.
My partner asked what we were going to do. My reply I’m going to ask them to pull the swing down for me or turn it back around myself.
As we approached, the three boys were still climbing the swing. When we got there I asked them to move over as I wanted to swing the seat back over and didn’t want to hit them.
The eldest asking if I wanted him to do it for me. I took him up on his offer. Five minutes later the seat was down and my daughter was happy swinging away.
During the swing, I heard one of them say he didn’t want to climb anymore, in case he hurt my daughter by accident.
We finished and thanked the young men for their help, going on our way. As we walked away I watched them drop the other seat back down to its original state.
Good lads, I thought to myself.
So why, why did I have the confidence to approach the boys and why did they react so well?
The first is easy I work with these young boys every day. The majority of these young men are not to be feared. They are the same kids you played with at their age. Yes, there are some young boys that cause trouble, but these are the minority. As with all societies, there are always a few bad apples.
I got the reaction I did because of the way I approached them. I didn’t go striding over there, like some parents telling them it was a toddler park. Shouting at them for ruining the swing and telling them to clear out. I accepted them in that space. Hell, I used to swing the seat over the bar at their age.
I treated them with respect and in return, I received the respect back from them.
I also taught my daughter a valuable lesson about dealing with others. The young men learnt, that not all adults treat them like second class citizens.
The media will bombard you with stories of teenage murders, violence and criminal damage. They ignore the stories about the teenager that helped the old lady cross the road safely. Yes, I witnessed it with my own eyes. The stories of teenagers helping young children when they are in trouble.
Our present media seem to have a mission to cause civil nervousness with their stories. If they are not using stories of racial unrest, it is criminalising teenagers.
So this started me thinking. How many times does our reaction to people result in their response being less favourable to us? If we approach everyone with the same non-judgemental outlook, would we have better interactions with them?
Treat everyone with respect and 99% of the time you will receive respect back, regardless of age, gender or race.