Parents and care-givers dread the phone call telling them that their child is in trouble at school again. Parent-Teacher conferences and IEP meetings can be disheartening at best when parents/care-givers hear about how their sweet, funny, smart child is aggressive and a problem in the classroom (they know what happens at home, but hoped that the school would deal with things better). Sadly, there really is a link between these mental health issues and aggressive behavior, but let’s talk about why!
U.S. NEWS and World Report, shares that Dr. L. Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Nisonger Center at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center has written a new book, , “A Family’s Guide to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” In this book Dr. Arnold points out that “being thrown off and easily frustrated by the little things is common and has a lot to do with poor control over emotional regulation. For example, he says that a child lacking the ability to manage emotions may become irritated and instead of asking for help, may cry, whine or perhaps throw something to convey frustration”. This is a really insightful article that points out that kid’s struggling with these issues are not willfully intent on hurting others, they simply lack the emotional regulation and impulse control they need to handle things better.
Let me be clear, this is an explanation, not an excuse! But the bottom line is that in order to change this behavior, we need to give these kids the tools/skills they need to better manage their emotions and to address their impulsive behaviors. That is where we come in! Work with horses can be a powerful intervention for those struggling with ADHD and ODD.
Our clients learn about horse and herd behavior. They learn that impulsive behavior can be scary for a horse. They are prey animals and are easily startled. Because our clients really do want to have a good relationship with their horse, they are willing to learn and practice the self-calming skills that allow them to become less impulsive. We also work on slowing down, completing one task before moving on to the next and being able to verbalize how we are feeling when things don’t go the way we thought they would. We work on problem solving. While leading your horse, “if they drag you into the weeds, what can you do to solve that problem?” We point out that in most cases, if the horse does not do what you are asking them to, it is because you have not communicated clearly “what is another way to let Mystic know what you want her to do?” With improved focus and less impulsivity, we usually also see improved self-confidence and a willingness to stop and consider the consequences of the choices made. Besides, work with horses is FUN!
If you know someone who is struggling please seek help. Work with horses can be a powerful addition to a comprehensive treatment plan. We would be happy to schedule a visit for you to the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help. Call or email us today.