The return to school is looming, anxious or happy?

What a pleasant summer we have had with warm sunshine, light nights and lots of opportunity to spend quality time with our family and friends in the great outdoors. As September draws near so does the inevitable return to school. For some this is no problem at all but for others it can be a very daunting and worrying time. For me it means a return to school to assist and coach students in secondary education who experience fear and anxiety in the school environment on various different levels.
Thinking back to my teenage years I remember happy times with my parents and friends, lots of sporting activities, being around horses, schoolwork and learning, meeting new people, evenings out at the ice rink, meeting boys and going to parties.
What I didn’t experience was the pressure to wear the right label of clothing, be thin, look and say the right things, be frightened to be slightly different and the publication of exam results and league tables.
The pressure on young people today is phenomenal, from what they need to look like, having the accepted make of mobile technology, wearing the best clothing labels, being in the most popular group of school friends and having to deal with the publication of GCSE results for all to see which is totally mind blowing.

Just listening to parents and young people talking about their prom regarding the cost, how to be different, prom proposals, what transport to arrive in, who to arrive and be seen with and what to wear is very alien to me. The whole meaning of having a prom to celebrate the completion of study by letting your hair down and having fun has been completely surpassed with how much money needs to be to spent  and one-upmanship. Something that should be exciting and enjoyable has turned into a competitive, money spending frenzy which totally detracts from the true purpose and it is such a shame.  All this plus working for GCSE’s is a pressure young people could do without.

Young people of today seem to be laden down with more pressure and worry compared to my teenage days which seemed to be more simple and carefree. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that have improved like technology and communications, TV choices, accessibility to music and activity choices like indoor sky diving, go-karting on ice and many more. Regardless of all these fantastic opportunities, which should be experienced and embraced, young people appear troubled and stressed! Most young people  have few responsibilities in their teenage years so why are they not more stress and worry free? Why is their focus on what other people think and do instead of concentrating on what they enjoy and makes them happy. I think that the difference between my teenage years and today could be that our children grow up much quicker and there is a rush to do adult things so therefore spend much less time as children. Social media, TV and the press has enabled young people to gain access to some vivid and horrific information which would not have been so accessible in my teenage years. So what can we as adults do to change their outlook on life?

I feel that there are two ways of approaching the problem. The first is by the young person themselves. They need to understand the purpose of what they are doing in life, how they are going about it and that they are they prepared to take responsibility for their actions? Being open to new things and accepting ‘it is ok to be a bit different from the norm’. A consideration might be ‘Would Lady Gaga have been so successful and memorable if she had not worn outrageous outfits?’ I would say, by doing something different has been very successful for her. Trying new things gives you different results and can lead to enjoyable and exciting outcomes but how do you know unless you try! A good website with lots of information around this subject is Do Something Different. If you always do the same thing then you will always get the same result. By changing your focus to doing something different gives you new things to talk about and share, you are constantly learning and developing, your confidence is growing and you are too busy to worry about what anyone else is doing or what you are not doing. Also there is no such thing as failure, if things do not go to plan then just change your approach and try again until you get the desired result, don’t let anything put you off from achieving your goals or dreams. Be committed to whatever you do!

The second approach is from a parent’s perspective. As parents, how can we help our children to develop into happy, inquisitive, adventurous, caring and successful human beings? One of the most common things that I hear when coaching a student is “I just want someone to listen to me, everybody is so busy and they don’t have time” and “I get attention if I don’t behave.” I find communication is the key with young people. Giving them the opportunity to talk about situations or issues, actively listening, not judging them and not being distracted by other things whilst listening to them are essential ingredients if you want them to open up. Trying to understand them, their world and where they are coming from is imperative if we are to provide assistance in helping them to resolve whatever is concerning them.

Positive language and what we say to young people has a huge impact on their behaviour and actions. Do not say anything that you don’t want repeating! They are quick to learn and have razor sharp hearing! Focusing on the positive will help to reduce negativity and therefore increase the probability of success. The language that we use is very important. If we said “don’t forget your key as I won’t be home later” the way the brain works is that it strips off the ‘don’t’ part of the sentence which leaves “forget your key as I won’t be home later”. This means that the likelihood of them remembering the key is significantly reduced but if we were to say ” I won’t be home later so you will need your key” significantly increases the chance of it happening as the brain has been given a positive message. A similar thing could be said for when a person says ” don’t worry everything will be ok”  it makes no difference at all as we still go away and worry whereas if we said “take things steady and everything will be ok” gives the brain a more positive message and success is a more likely outcome.

Encouraging young people to talk about their strengths and accomplishments, no matter how big or small, is a very important part towards them accepting their potential and  self worth .  Most of us are very good at identifying what we can’t do rather than what we are good at. This is not a ‘blow your own trumpet exercise’ but a constructive identification of strengths and skills and recognition of talent which is something to be proud of. Explaining the core values of honesty, integrity and fairness and to act with those in mind at all times will enable them to deal with anyone and anything. Talking to them about lessons learnt’ from previous experiences and what their focus and goals are for the coming year will help all parties to understand what they want to achieve and how we can support them in achieving their goals. It also gives them the opportunity to talk about any worries or disappointments and how these can be avoided in the future. Simple things to us can be a major concern to young people and without the opportunity to communicate regularly can mean things escalate into something far worse down the line.

Anxious young people quite often just need to know that they are loved, supported, and valued and that people will listen to them when they have something to say and that they are considered and understood when change occurs. Keeping routine and consistency at home by setting boundaries combined with encouragement, motivation and positive reinforcement will certainly make the transition back to school a more structured, pleasant and familiar experience.

Keep the lines of communication open, and make the transition back to school a SimplyPositive one.

Is your relationship with your horse based on fear or trust?

If you are concerned about this then I would certainly recommend you go and see Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks on their Autumn 2014 Tour – Stablemate to Soulmate.

I attended one of Monty and Kelly’s  demonstrations in 2007 because I was having problems with my very rude and bargy mare which resulted in me having several injuries and a total loss of confidence.

Attending the demonstration changed my perception of horsemanship from it being all about me to it being all about my horse and her understanding of situations.  I then went on to do a horse psychology course with Kelly Marks which gave me a greater understanding of horse behaviour and why they behave in a certain way. I also learnt that confident body language and clear boundary setting was essential if I wanted to make progress. Making things crystal clear, “yes” you can do that or “no” you cannot do that followed up with the correct body language and positive reinforcement meant that there was congruency between the tone of my voice and my body language. This made things much easier for her to understand and our journey of improvement started.

Creating rapport between you and your horse will help in building a bond which then leads to trust. Groundwork exercises are essential in establishing the leadership hierarchy between you and your horse. If you are not getting good behaviour down on the ground then it will not bode well for being in the saddle.

Spending time with your horse and not rushing your results, combined with understanding and variety will enable you to reduce the fear and build a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding.

So build the relationship!

Do I need to buy a Dually Halter for my horse?

Do you have a horse that barges, takes off when being led or will not load? If your answer is yes to any of these then you need a Dually Halter.
The Dually Halter designed by Monty Roberts can be used as an ordinary headcollar until you clip onto the side training rings when it then becomes a pressure and release training aid.
If you do purchase this type of halter you then need to learn how to use it correctly if you want results.
I have heard people say “It makes no difference” and “They do not work”. Just by putting a Dually on a horse does not mean your horse will no longer run off or drop off the side of the ramp when trying to load.
If you have bought your Dually from Intelligent Horsemanship (IH) then you will receive a DVD explaining about the halter and how to use it. It is really important that you watch the DVD or seek advice from someone who knows how to use one or preferably have it fitted by an IH Recommended Associate (RA).
Fitting the halter on your horse is also very important as it needs to be fitted more snugly than an ordinary headcollar so that the rope engages when pressure is applied otherwise it will not be as effective.
Practising getting your timing right regarding when to apply pressure and immediately releasing once your horse has done what you have asked is imperative. It took me a few weeks to get it right and between 3 to 6 months to perfect my technique. Obviously all horses are different and learn at various rates but please do give it time.
The Dually Halter saved me from permanent neck and shoulder damage and played a vital part in teaching my horse how to load calmly and quietly. Once I had taught her pressure and release she understood what I wanted her to do in a non-aggressive, firm but fair way. Her barging and running off were also greatly reduced and I have to say it is the best piece of horse kit I have purchased to date.
So in answer to my question, if you have a horse, no matter what age or stage of training, and you are getting undesired behaviour, then YES you need a Dually Halter. They come in various sizes and I think they even do a tiny one for ponies.

Why join a business networking group?

Four months ago I was really doubtful about joining a ladies business networking group.
I was worried about the cost and the commitment and whether it was going to be beneficial to me and my business. What was the group going to do for me?
I decided to invest my money and joined Athena last April. After several meetings it became clear that my initial expectation of “what will it do for me?” was really not how things worked. I soon started to understand that the question I needed to be asking was “what can I do for my group members?” Spotting opportunities and recommending fellow members means that if we are all looking out for each other then all our businesses grow!
I have met some fantastic business ladies and got myself an accountant who I can trust, a Reiki practitioner who helps me to relax and made lots of new contacts along the way.
For me it has been a life enriching and beneficial experience which I would thoroughly recommend.