Competition is a motivator. Competition can be fun. Competition can be a wonderful learning experience. BUT....Competition can also blur the boundaries between healthy and realistic learning about how the real world works when we fail to let kids/students fail!
So let me just cut to the chase. I'm a HUGE believer that the best way you learn is often to fail! If you do something wrong, you made the choices that led to the wrong occurring. You can learn from such poor choices with a good mentor, teacher, or parent who is wise enough to explain the reason your choices resulted in the failure in order to help you to see alternative solutions that may have led to better choices resulting in different outcomes...better ones! Now here's the tricky part....as parents, it can be SO HARD to allow kids to make choices that result in failure! BUT...it is unrealistic to always win.
It is unrealistic to be the BEST all the time. The real world is harsh. Success in the real world often comes to those that keep moving. Those that bounce back. Those that are resilient. Those that don't give up when something doesn't go the way we want it to. Pain is a reality of life. There is no way to escape it. Learning to cope with disappointment, hurt, unrealized expectations, mean-spirited people, embarrassment, ridicule, hostility, peer pressure, etc....it's all a part of life. Success is turning these experiences into positives and forging ahead! Being adaptable and flexible. Discovering your strengths and weaknesses.
Your kids can either learn to pout, cry, bully, give up, act defiant, behave in poor sportsmanship...or your kids can learn to cope, put on a game face, smile, show good conduct and manners, laugh it off, route for and support their friends, stand up to bullies, or shrug it off because, seriously....WHO CARES WHAT OTHERS THINK? I LOVE kids whose parents have instilled in them a sense of independence and who are strong enough to not give a flip what others think other than those people they look up to and respect!
It is good to strive to become the best you can at something...but you will never get there. Being the "BEST" is temporary. The learning opportunities along the way are what are important...NOT actually the short-lived achievement. The relationships made along the way are what count the most. The relationship achieved between a rider and horse. The working through a problem to a solution. The development of skill and true self-confidence because you work for it....overcome something. The developing friendships when you bond with others that you connect with because of an experience.
Students need to fail often in order to learn. Students need to experience trials, hardship, disappointment along with the joys of success and all the rewards and accolades that may go with it.
Parents need to be brave! Love your kids enough to let them find their way. Love them enough to step back and listen when your kid's teachers and coaches tell you something about your child's abilities that maybe you don't want to hear! Don't take offense to it, be willing to delve in and explore the reasoning WHY! There are very good, plausible, reasons for the WHY that can be solution-ed! Maybe your child is NOT as talented a horseback rider as another child you know of the same age group. Maybe the other child has been riding longer? Maybe the other child is more physically fit? Maybe the other child has more emotional maturity and control? Maybe the other child is able to focus more easily? Maybe the other child rides 5 times a week vs your child riding once weekly? After all, practice makes perfect! All of these reasons, give you a WAY for your child to work towards becoming BETTER for themselves not better than another!
LISTEN to your coach who knows more about horses and riding when they give you an assessment. HEAR what they say. If you do not have years of experience with horses as they do, then they have an expertise and knowledge that you do not! If you feel your child should be jumping big jumps because "Suzy So and So's" mother told you that her daughter is jumping bigger than your child, try saying BRAVO! Don't burden your child with your competitive drive to compete with that parent! That is you, NOT your child! Safety is far more important in this sport than ego! This can be a dangerous sport...especially when ego leads to corners being cut!
Focus on how your child can become better and step out of the way and let your child and an expert pave the way! Be a support for your child and praise them for not winning....rather trying! Praise them for putting in the effort. Encourage them to keep it up, that they will get there and that you think they are doing great! Your child wants to be praised by you for the effort they put in NOT for the end result!
Parents, don't focus on the Winners....focus on the Winners that are being grown! The winners in bloom! That is what the focus is and will be here at Meadowthorpe Farm. We like the color blue, but we like the way to it so much more! If you want to prepare your child for more than just winning blues...if you want to prepare your child to grow and win at life instead, while keeping the love and welfare of horses the main priority... Doing the right thing by your horses...Not pounding them into the ground when they need rest...Not jumping them daily, or multiple times a day in the heat or cold or wet or dry....Bringing them along slowly and steadily and taking the time to prepare and understand WHY your are doing something the way that you are for the horse....being able to articulate that and demonstrate it....while having fun and laughing often...if you care more about what's really important for your child and for horses, then reach out to us. We may be a good fit for working with your child, and you! #WinnersGrowHere #GoodThingsGrowHere