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No More Horsing Around

No More Horsing Around

Most parents know the difficulty of one or more children begging to be able to get a new pet. My daughter has literally asked to get everything from a tarantula to a parrot to a puppy. She is pretty responsible and I am a huge animal lover myself so we have ended up with two parakeets gifted to us, a bearded dragon from a neighbor, and a cat and a dog from the humane society. We have quite a zoo already so when the questions arose about a horse I was not too surprised. Although, my answer was an immediate NO.

We do not live in a house with any land for such a large animal, horse boarding is very expensive for a nice place close to home, and the cost of the horse alone not to mention feeding and caring for the animal is way out of my budget. There are so many aspects to consider before jumping into being a horse owner.

I have never seen my daughter so determined though. She even started saving her own money to put towards buying a horse of her own. Once I sat down with her and explained all of the other costs of responsibly caring for such a large animal she understood but I could tell she felt defeated.

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As a mother, seeing how badly she wanted to be around these beautiful animals that she adored and the lengths she was willing to go, I did a little research and found some great alternatives. I also found examples of horses that weren’t cared for properly that I could share with my daughter so that she better understood why it wouldn’t be fair to the horse if we went out and purchased one. Here are the most promising options.

Volunteer

As I was researching I immediately found several sites that needed volunteers on farms for malnourished and neglected horses. Explaining to my daughter the reality of what could happen if a person cannot take care of the animal is one thing. Her seeing for herself made much more of an impact and curbed the constant, “Pleeeease mom!”

Not only did it allow her to be closer to the big beauties but it made her feel useful, like she was making a difference, because she was. All the while she was learning great work ethic and compassion, free of charge.

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Camps

This is another great alternative to actually purchasing a horse. Every summer I still have to work and the last thing I want is for my daughter to sit at daycare until I get off or be bored at home so I do my best to find interesting camps that last all day. This is a great choice for any child that wants to get closer to horses and learn to ride.

Through volunteering for the horses in need you help to nurse the horses back to health and learn how much work it is to care for and feed the horses but opportunities to ride the horses are slim. This choice is not free. Camps can run a pretty penny. They can run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Shop around your area and find one that suits your budget best. A lot of them also have scholarships for funding so look for that as well.

Leasing

I was pretty surprised when I’ve seen that this was an option. In fact I almost changed my stance on purchasing a horse but in the end it would still not be responsible of us considering how busy we are and it is still a pretty large financial investment. You can lease a horse and lease a horse with the option of ownership.

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When simply leasing a horse you generally pay a monthly fee and cover monthly expenses. When leasing, if the horse were to get injured you would not be obligated to cover those expenses or have to worry about selling the horse if that is what it came to. Leasing a horse is also a good option to take before deciding to take the plunge and purchasing a horse. It will give ample time and experience enough to decide whether it really is something that everyone involved is ready for.

Leasing to own is a good option if you have the time, space and energy to care for the animal but don’t have the full purchasing amount all at once. This gives you the option to pay payments to own your own horse.

Co-ownership

This is another great option for those who don’t have the immediate funds and do not have the space for the animal as well. Co-ownership allows you to split the purchase price and costs of feed and upkeep with someone else. If there is someone close to home that is trustworthy this is a smart option. Before going into co-ownership I suggest sitting down with the other buyer and going over details and creating a document of responsibilities so that there is no confusion or conflict in the future about who covers which costs.

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I am sure a lot of parents like myself assume that horse ownership is an all or nothing deal but fortunately that is not the case. These are the best options that allow for less of a weight on you financially and generally give a cushion of time and experience before choosing to make the decision to own your own horse. They allow for ample time to make sure that it is really something that our children want and will stay responsible for or if it is a fleeting phase, which there are a lot of with most kids.

My daughter may not have been able to purchase her own horse but in the end she and I are both happy with the way things have worked out. Her ability to stay involved with horses year round is something that has created a space of compassion and responsibility in her that I could not be more proud of. Best of luck into your journey into horse ownership

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Published on February 11, 2021

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

I’m old enough to remember how the cane at school was used for punishment. My dad is old enough to think that banning corporal punishment in schools resulted in today’s poorly disciplined youth. With all of this as my early experiences, there was a time when I would have been better assigned to write about how to negatively discipline your child.

What changed? Thankfully, my wife showed me different approaches for discipline that were very positive. Plus, I was open to learning.

What has not changed is that kids are full of problems with impulses and emotions that flip from sad to happy, then angry in a moment. Though we’re not that different as adults with stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine in our diets.

Punishment as Discipline?

What this means is that we usually take the easy path when a child misbehaves and punish them. Punishment may solve an isolated problem, but it’s not really teaching the kids anything useful in the long term.

Probably it’s time for me to be clear about what I mean by punishment and discipline as these terms are often used interchangeably, but they are quite different.

Discipline VS. Punishment

Punishment is where we inflict pain or suffering on our child as a penalty. Discipline means to teach. They’re quite the opposite, but you’ll notice that teachers, parents, and coaches often confuse the two words.

So, as parents, we have to have clear goals to teach our kids. It’s a long-term plan—using strategies that will have the longest-lasting impact on our kids are the best use of our time and energy.

If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, then it becomes easier to find the best strategy. The better we are at responding when our kids misbehave or do not follow our guidance, the better the results are going to be.

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3 Positive Discipline Strategies for Your Child

Stay with me as I appreciate that a lot of people who read these blogs do not always have children with impulse control. We’ve had a lot of kids in our martial arts classes that were the complete opposite. They had concentration issues, hyperactive, and disruptive to the other children.

The easy solution is to punish their parents by removing the kids from the class or punish the child with penalties such as time outs and burpees. Yes, it was tempting to do all of this, but one of our club values is that we pull you up rather than push you down.

This means it’s a long-term gain to build trust and confidence, which is destroyed by constant punishments.

Here are the discipline strategies we used to build trust and confidence with these hyperactive kids.

1. Patience

The first positive discipline strategy is to simply be patient. The more patient you are, the more likely you are to get results. Remember I said that we need to build trust and connection. You’ll get further with this goal using patience.

As a coach, sometimes I was not the best person for this role, but we had other coaches in the club that could step in here. As a parent, you may not have this luxury, so it’s really important to recognize any improvements that you see and celebrate them.

2. Redirection

The second strategy we use is redirection. It’s important with a redirection to take “no” out of the equation. Choices are a great alternative.

Imagine a scenario where you’re in a restaurant and your kid is wailing. The hard part here is getting your child to stop screaming long enough for you to build a connection. Most parents have calming strategies and if you practice them with your child, they are more likely to be effective.

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In the first moment of calm, you can say “Your choice to scream and cry in public is not a good one. It would be best to say, Dad. What can I do to get ice-cream?” You can replace this with an appropriate option.

The challenge with being calm and redirecting is that we need to be clear-minded, focused, and really engaged at the moment. If you’re on your phone, talking with friends or family, thinking about work or the bills, you’ll miss this opportunity to discipline in a way that has long-term benefits.

3. Repair and Ground Rules

The third positive discipline strategy is to repair and use ground rules. Once you’ve given the better option and it has been taken, you have a chance to repair this behavior to lessen its occurrence to better yet, prevent it from happening again. And by setting appropriate ground rules, you can make this a long-term win by helping your child improve their behavior.

It’s these ground rules that help you correct the poor choices of your child and direct the behavior that you want to see.

Consequences Versus Ultimatums

When I was a child and being punished. My parents worked in a busy business for long hours, so their default was to go to ultimatums. “Do that again and you’re grounded for a week,” or “If I catch you doing X, you’ll go to bed without dinner”.

Looking back, this worked to a point. But the flip side is that I remembered more of the ultimatums than the happier times. I’ve learned through trial and error with my own kids that consequences are more effective while not breaking down trust.

What to Do When Ground Rules Get Broken?

It’s on the consequences that you use when the ground rules are broken.

In the martial arts class, when the hyperactive student breaks the ground rules. They would miss a turn in a game or go to the back of the line in a queue. We do not want to shame the child by isolating them. But on the flip side, there should be clear ground rules and proportionate consequences.

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Yes, there are times when we would like to exclude the student from the class, the club, and even the universe. Again, it’s here that patience is so important and probably impulse control too. With an attainable consequence, you can maintain trust and you’re more likely to get the long-term behavior that you’re looking to achieve.

Interestingly, we would occasionally hear a strategy from parents that little Kevin has been misbehaving at home with his sister or something similar. He likes martial arts training, so the parent would react by removing Kevin from the martial arts class as a punishment.

We would suggest that this would remove Kevin from an environment where he is behaving positively. Removing him from this is likely to be detrimental to the change you would like to see. He may even feel shame when he returns to the class and loses all the progress he’s made.

Alternatives to Punishment

Another option is to tell Kevin to write a letter to his sister, apologizing for his behavior, and explaining how he is going to behave in the future.

If your child is too young to write, give the apology face to face. For the apology to feel sincere, there is some value to pre-framing or practicing this between yourself and your child before they give it to the intended person.

Don’t expect them to know the ground rules or what you’re thinking! It will be clearer to your child and better received with some practice. You can practice along the lines of: “X is the behavior I did, Y is what I should have done, and Z is my promise to you for how I’m going to act in the future.” You can replace XYZ with the appropriate actions.

It does not need to be a letter or in person, it can even be a video. But there has to be an intention to repair the broken ground rule. If you try these strategies, that is become fully engaged with them and you’re still getting nowhere.

But what to do if these strategies do not work? Then there is plenty to gain by seeking the help of an expert. Chances are that something is interfering or limiting their development.

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This does not mean that your child has a neurological deficiency, although this may be the root cause. But it means that you can get an objective view and help on how to create the changes that you would like to see. Remember that using positive discipline strategies is better than mere punishment.

There are groups that you can chat with for help. Family Lives UK has the aim of ensuring that all parents have somewhere to turn before they reached a crisis point. The NSPCC also provides a useful guide to positive parenting that you can download.[1]

Bottom Line

So, there your go, the three takeaways on strategies you can use for positively disciplining your child. The first one is about you! Be patient, be present, and think about what is best for the long term. AKA, avoid ultimatums and punishment. The second is to use a redirect, then repair and repeat (ground rules) as your 3-step method of discipline.

Using these positive discipline strategies require you to be fully engaged with your child. Again, being impulsive breaks trust and you lose some of the gains you’ve both worked hard to achieve.

Lastly, consequences are better than punishment. Plus, avoid shaming, especially in public at all costs.

I hope this blog has been useful, and remember that you should be more focused on repairing bad behavior because being proactive and encouraging good behavior with rewards, fun, and positive emotions takes less effort than repairing the bad.

More Tips on How To Discipline Your Child

Featured photo credit: Leo Rivas via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NSPCC Learning: Positive parenting

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