The Wisdom of a Horse

The Wisdom of a Horse

My youngest child is drawn to animals.  He is the epitome of an animal lover.  Thus, I was not surprised when he wanted to go horseback riding at a young age.  When he turned 6, he used his birthday money to go to the barn at a local park and ride a horse.  He was a little guy-not only because he was six, but he was a small 6 year old.  He strode right into the barn and requested to ride Tonka-a draft horse, the largest horse in the barn.  Unfortunately, Tonka does not fair well in the arena so Tonka was not an option.  However, the lady at the barn offered Parks another option-Belle, another draft horse.

He cherished every minute with Belle.  This experienced sparked something inside him.  We then found a barn that would allow him to ride and take informal lessons.  He did well until he didn’t.  There came a time when he just continuously became frustrated at riding.  It was too soon.

For his eighth birthday, Parks asked if he could attempt riding again.  I took a new approach this time.  I agreed to set up lessons if he would agree to work on confidence, self control and impulse control when with the horses.  He agreed and off we went.  He started in the little arena with a lovely horse.  He rode confidently.  He is now only five weeks into his lessons and each week he amazes me.  When we arrive at the barn, he is able to get his horse from the pasture, brush him, saddle him and ride with minimal assistance.

He is learning about how to communicate without using words.  He is learning the importance of “willing” the horse to trot and to work with him.  He remains calm around the horses.  He is gentle and caring.  He knows that he and the horse must trust each other.  I am not sure why my youngest felt the need for horses in his life, but I am forever grateful. The horses can teach him things that I have not been able to in a way that works for him.

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No longer the “No” Mom

I finally finished the book, “Discipline Without Distress:135 Tools for Raising Caring, Responsible, Children without Time-out, Spanking, Punishment or Bribery” by Judy Arnall (my original post about the book can be found here). I think I can sum the book up with one quote that she used toward the end of the book, and I am sure that the quote will not be new to any of you either. It goes like this, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi.

A new day will come tomorrow.

Yep, it is that simple. If you want peace within your home, be peaceful yourself. No over-reacting to things that don’t need over-reacting to. Look at the situation. Children, like ourselves (by this I mean adults), do not act out because they want to. They act out because they need something. I started observing my own behaviors and noticed much the same thing. I get snippy when I am tired and/or hungry. Guess what? So do my kids.

The book contains many terrific ideas and puts many everyday “annoying” things into perspective. The author also speaks a lot about choosing your battles. I am with my kids A LOT, as are all homeschooling parents. I realized that a lot of the little things were driving me crazy and thus, I was getting angry a lot and saying, “no,” a lot. Ignoring those little things works fairly well. (Until of course the one day that I was cleaning everything up around the house and realized that none of it is was my stuff. I have to admit that I wanted to go and start screaming at everyone to get inside and start cleaning. However, I took a moment. When I found the kids playing outside, I simply asked them all to come in and sit at the table. I asked them to look around and see what they had out that did not belong to me. They got the point very easily. Without even asking, they each went around the house and picked up their stuff and went to their rooms and started picking up things. WE all cleaned up together.)

Obviously, I am still a work in progress with utilizing the techniques in the book. I used most of them in the past, but somehow forgot them. Now I have the book so hopefully, I will go back to it from time to time to refresh my memory. If you are a parent who doesn’t like to yell or belittle your kids, then I highly recommend this book. If you feel that kids are beneath you and that you should be in charge, I still recommend the book because maybe it will change your thought process.

Oh-one more quick note. This book is terrific for parents with kids of ALL ages. I read all of it from infant to teenagers. I think her ideas on working with your teen were fantastic.

The “No” Mom

Do you ever feel like all you say is “No?” I feel this way a lot. My house is a bit crazy lately-ok not lately. It has been crazy for a while now. We are headed into our third year of homeschooling and that first year is when I believe the craziness began.

Well, I am tired of saying “No” all the time. Using my Dad’s advice of, “if it hurts to do something, then stop doing it,” I am moving forward on my parenting journey, and I am stopping all the “no’s.”

This summer I have read numerous books (many of them for the second and third time) on parenting. I have definitely tried a lot of the advice given in the books, and some of it has worked. Unfortunately, not much of the advice seemed to really stick. Yes, we have decluttered the house and the kids’ rooms. Yes, we have a rhythm in the home. Yes, we have specific expectations of the kids.

So what went wrong? Well, a lot of the books discussed punishment. I know it sounds harsh. right? However, by punishment I mean things like time out, grounding, counting to three, and having strict rules with specific consequences. I have found that we are not good at following up on our consequences, and there are always grey areas and different care takers (mom, dad, child-watch workers, extra-curricular teachers, grandparents). An example is this-we do not eat outside the kitchen. We watched a movie the other day, and I brought popcorn into the sunroom for everyone to enjoy while watching the movie. The next day, the kids ate breakfast in the sunroom. Uhm…..NO. I broke the rule, so it must not be a rule any more, right? So how do I work with all of these grey areas?

Hopefully, I will find my answer in my latest find, Discipline Without Distress:135 Tools for Raising Caring, Responsible Children Without Time-Out, Spanking or Bribery by Judy Arnall.  I am only through the first half of the book, but so far I am loving it.  First off, it speaks of discipline and not punishment.  I think I have turned into the punisher instead of the teacher of discipline.  Overall, there are five parts to discipline that the author covers in this book. 1. “Teach, not hurt.” 2.”Stay with your ‘no’ and honor your word.” 3. “Look for the need or feeling behind the behavior.” 4. “Separate your anger from your discipline.” 5. “Be the person you want them to be.”

One challenge the author gives is to take a day and find other ways to get your point across without saying “no.”  I have attempted this several times since I started the book, but I haven’t made it through a full day yet.  Although, it did make me aware that sometimes I just say “no” because it is easier.  My kids ask ALOT of questions and they ask for EVERYTHING when we go someplace.  I have found that as they look at items in store, they simply are talking aloud and not really needing an answer.  When they really, really wanted something, I simply asked, “Is it something we NEED right now, today?”  The answer was “no,” of course.

One of my biggest pet peeves is wrestling!  We have never condoned any type of violent actions, but as most of my friends with bigger boys tell me-it is just part of being a boy.  The more I ask them to stop, I think the more they want to do it.  So this week instead of asking them to stop, I simply asked them to change rooms because it really bothers me to watch them hurt each other (now, obviously, they are not really hurting each other, but it does look painful at times.).  So far, they have stopped every time and moved onto another activity.  Will it last?  Who knows.  I am hopeful.

I will give another update on the book as I finish it.  If you have read it, I would love your thoughts.  If you are looking for a parenting book, check this one out and let me know your thoughts.