Kids just like adults can get pretty hard on themselves and it is often easier to remember the failures instead of focusing on the wins.
This time of year when the competitions are coming to an end it is a good time to sit down with your child and reflect on the past season before making new plans for the coming one.
The equestrian sport is one of the toughest in terms of maintaining a positive mindset as it can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs due to the fact that there is a partnership with a horse that sometimes has a mind of it’s own and doesn’t always stick to the plans we have made.
In most other sports the performance is able to be traced back to the athletes health and fitness level, competition preparation and mindset on the day.
In the equestrian sport we can be fit and healthy and the horse goes lame the day before the comp and it is all over red rover. Or the rider has had the perfect preparation and is prepared only to find the horse becomes spooky and it all goes pear shaped on the day.
This is tough for kids to deal with. I have heard many people call this ‘character building’ but sometimes it can also be soul destroying.
These are the moments when as parents we need to have tools to help our kids pick themselves up again so they can deal with what ever happened in the most positive way.
Since it can be so easy for kids to focusing on all the negative experiences, I find a really good exercise is to encourage them to keep a ‘Great Rides Diary’.
This is a journal where they can write down all their good rides, the good lessons and great horse experiences to serve as a memory bank of positive rides.
Then when they have a ‘not so good run’ they can sit down and read through their journal and by remembering all the good rides it will help them to bring their focus back to those rather than getting stuck on the ‘it’s not working’ bandwagon.
This is such a great way to teach your kids powerful exercises in an area where they are passionate in which hopefully means that they will do them.
Encourage your kids to write some notes after every ride. This is a great way to practice to find something good in every ride. It doesn’t have to be an essay; it can simply be one or two sentences.
When reflecting with them on the last season, (this can be a season of lessons, pony club or recreational riding too; it doesn’t have to be competitions) take some time to reflect on all the positive things that happened.
Get your kids to write down
- What went well
- What they have already achieved
- What Goals they have already ticked off
Then get your kids to reflect on
- What they can do different next season
- Who is there to help them
- What realistic and specific Goals do they want to set for the next season
And finally and most important of all
- Tell your kids to pat themselves on their back and be proud of how far they have come already
- Praise them constantly
- And remind them that the reason they started riding in the first place was because they loved horses.