This morning as I was considering the comment made by Special K with regard to the dentist's office, I thought back to a couple of times where I was pretty pleased with the way I handled a similar situation.
Jessie had always wanted to learn to ride. A local ranch was offering lessons and I took an excited Jessie along at the appointed time and we watched as the horse was saddled up and she prepared herself for her first time on a horse. The instructor was a nice enough woman... we'd not known her very long and had met her one time before. She got Jessie up on the horse and after only a few minutes she asked Jessie to hold her arms out at her side like airplane wings. Jessie did it quite well. Next Jessie was asked to lean all the way over the side of the horse and touch her toes, first on the left side, then on the right. This is all in an effort to teach her to balance on the horse, but it scared her terribly and she really struggled trying to do it.
"I can't!!" She said, whilst trying her best and not reaching.
"Yes you CAN. Come ON" Insisted the instructor.
Jessie tried again but was really scared and having a hard time reaching all the way down to her feet. She needed to change the way she was sitting and bend from the hips, but again, this was her first time riding!!!
I could tell she was scared and could tell that she was also trying really hard to please the teacher. Before much longer the lesson ended and Jessie and I left the ranch. I asked her how her lesson was and she started to cry.
"I tried to do what she said, but I'm scared I'm going to fall and I can't do it..." she sobbed.
I felt horrible for her and comforted her as best I could whilst I tried to think of what I could do to help the next time.
When the time for the next lesson arrived I took a moment beforehand to speak to the instructor.
" Jessie has been taught by me to not do ANYTHING she doesn't want to do just because someone tells her to, ESPECIALLY if it is something that scares her or doesn't seem safe. She hasn't had time to get to know you yet and you are asking her to do things she doesn't feel safe doing. I think it would be a good idea if maybe you spent the time getting to know each other first so that she can decide for herself if she trusts you, before you ask her to do something that she might feel is dangerous. I would really appreciate it if you would take a little more time to GAIN her trust before you ask her to trust you! "
This seemed to work and I was really pleased to see that the next lesson the instructor went to great lengths to make Jessie feel safe on the horse and to show her that she could be trusted. This was over a year ago now and Jessie LOVES her lessons and her instructor and today they have a great relationship.
Last Halloween our family went to a picnic put on by the company hubby works for, for all the employees. It's a fantastic time on this incredible pumpkin patch with so many activities and things for children to see and do!! We really enjoy it despite the humongous lines to get in!! We met up with another family with two daughters, whom we really like. The girls are a year and two years older than Jessie and have been to the pumpkin patch many a time, so they were very excited to show her around. They wanted Jessie to go into an old mine ( pretend of course!!) which they assured her was very tame and not at all scary. Jessie is pretty wise and does NOT like to be scared. She gets a bit jumpy in the pumpkin patch because it gets dark and there are obviously quite a few scary things about. She refused to go in the mine with the girls. They kept insisting it was not scary and the more they insisted, the more adamant she became that she was NOT going in. ( good for her!! ) The mother of the girls was trying to encourage Jessie to go in and said that it wasn't scary at all.
"Go ON Jessie" she said " Don't be a spoilsport" !!!!
This from the mother of the girls!!!! I looked at Jessie and said to her, "Jessie! Never feel you have to do anything that scares you just because someone tells you to do it or tries to make you feel bad for not doing it, .....even if it IS a grown~up!!!!"
The mother was quite shocked by this, but I was really surprised an adult would say such a thing to a child.
I talked to Jessie about it and said that the girls seemed like they were being sincere and they wouldn't want to scare her, but if she really didn't feel she wanted to do it, then that was OK. Jessie thought about it and I suggested that maybe I would go through with them if that would make her feel better. She thought it would indeed! We all walked through the mine and it really wasn't scary at all...in fact at the end there was an optical illusion where it felt like everything was spinning around you and made us all quite dizzy!! She thought that was great!!! Once we were out she and the girls decided they wanted to go through again and this time I was free to wait outside!!!!!
I hope I am doing the right thing, I don't know. I hope that by allowing Jessie the freedom to follow her instincts she will have confidence in herself for the future.
I guess I won't find out if I did the right thing for another 30 years or so!! ; D It's going to be a long wait!