I have had a little free time at night and for some reason have found myself watching(on more than one occasion) The Nanny. That's the show where Jo, the cute British nanny comes to someones home and teaches them how to retrain their kids! I love her! She would be a fabulous horse trainer. If you have seen the show you know how challenging the kids can be. There are screamers, hitters,whiners, biters, over active ones, needy ones, aggressive ones and sad ones. Its like walking down any horse barn aisle in the world. Jo brings some exercises with her, like the binky fairy, and time out chair/room/pillow but the most important tool she tries to teach is consistency. Without consistency there is chaos or should I say a return to chaos. The poor parents are by turn, exhausted, bewildered, hurt, angry, indifferent and sad. And while its easy to sit in my childless home, from my comfy chair and shake my head at their lack of parental skills, Its also easy to draw direct parallels to the people I meet with their troubled relationship with their horses. The nanny was recently at a home in England. The family had three girls, the oldest was nine. She was a pistol! She yelled, she hit, she scratched, and had quite the vocabulary to top it all off! She even physically and verbally attacked Jo! Something that I had never seen....most of the kids had tantrums but they where not aimed at anyone in particular. This kid was something else,and she spent alot of time in the quiet room as it was dubbed for this episode. In any case as is customary for the show, Jo observes, formulates a plan, implements the plan then leaves the parent alone with candid cameras to continue the course they must all practice. The return to old habits was astonishing fast. Even though the parents had utilized the exercises and seen results, when left to their own devices, exercises where given a new twist, rules where broken and the decline was immediate. I think the reason this show stuck with me over the others, is the advice that Jo gave the parents In the midst of two phenomenal outbursts from the nine year old. One was "Its not personal!" OK, horse owners if its not personal between mother and child its not personal between horse and rider! Its not, no matter how much if "feels" like it is....Taking a miscomunication personally only clouds the way to communication. Yes, its an outburst. Yes, it scarey! Yes, you want to throttle them..... I think the mother of this child , would have happily pushed her out into the path of an oncomeing double decker bus. Regardless of how you feel you must stick to the game plan, and be consistent. Now lucky for us, we can choose when and how to meet our horses in the class room. We should arrive there with our pom poms out, and big, wide, horse- loveing grins on our faces. If our Pony doesnt want to play that day, then we should say,"thats Ok pony, tomarrow will be a new day. I'll be back to help you through it." Sound to polly anna for you? Well, maybe it is, but try it. The way its been handled in the past has created the horse of today afterall.
The second bit of nanny advice I found so timely was "Dont engage in the bad behaviour" For this Mom and child, it meant alot less verbal interaction. Sounds strange, but the child would engage Mom in a shouting fest, the two nose to nose, battleing it out. When Mom calmly gave the child direction and followed through with any time out neccisary despite the protest and abuse, the child became calm. Hmmmmmm, pretty amazing huh? This was a major challenge for Mom, she had done things with the same way for nine long years, but she saw how her behavior directly affected her childs behavior so she kept at it and will continue to for the rest of the childs life. This kid held onto her bad habits hard, she even became worse..... But as the Nanny so intuatively noticed the child was objecting to change. She was scared and angry of what this change might mean, just as our horses may be. The thing that always strikes me when watching Jo in action is her inherent empathy for the child, even when one is calling her a bitch and scratching furrows into her arms, she still feels for the child. Its a habit we should all endevour to embrace no matter what species we are dealing with.