Recently Miss J has been having trouble with our horse riding routine. She's great at getting ready on her own, she loves getting her horse ready and in my opinion, she is most at home when she is riding.
The trouble she has, is getting off.
After a week of full blown tantrums upon dismount, I decided it was time to come up with a new strategy. I also decided it was time to let Miss J have a little bit more responsibility. She is perfectly capable of understanding the reasons why she has to get off her horse and why tantrums over this are not appropriate, just as she is capable of coming up with better ways to manage her emotions.
So we sat down and had a talk. I explained again that her riding time is 30 minutes and the reasons it has to stay at 30 minutes are so she doesn't get tired and hurt herself, so her horse doesn't get tired and hurt himself, so no one gets bored and cranky and because there are other people who deserve a turn as well. We agreed that tantrums are not a good way to deal with feeling disappointed and sad because her turn was over and Miss J seemed keen to change her behaviour.
I suggested that she come up with something she could do after horse riding that she really enjoys so that when she feels sad, she could focus on this instead. We talked about some of her favourite things - toys, a favourite game, the box of colouring in things - and she seemed to grasp the concept pretty well. We agreed to give it a go and Miss J assured me that she knew what she was going to look forward to after riding.
This afternoon we set off for the paddock, all calm and confident and ready to try out this new strategy. The lesson came and went and when it was time to get off Miss J coped like a star. She told me she was sad her lesson was over but she would like to go up to the house please, because she was looking forward to something else now.
Hooray!! Even I was gob smacked at our brilliance.
Back at the house, Miss J disappeared into her room for about half an hour. When she emerged she was dressed in her favourite pink dress with her favourite pink shoes, she had just about every clip she owned stuck to her head somewhere and her arms were swimming with bracelets and beads. She had her 'Saddle Club' bag slung over her shoulder, a pink purse in one hand and a black, sequin, 'night on the town' number clutched in the other. To complete 'the look', her face was completely covered in purple lip glitter.
Miss V, Miss F and I were speechless.
Miss J, however, was not. She skipped over to the door, swung around to face me and announced:
"Come on mum! We're going shopping!"
She was so excited and so certain, I couldn't say no.
Today, we went shopping. Tomorrow, I think our new strategy may need a little refining.