I don’t know about you, but I think “spirited riders” is a good description for little ones (and some of us who are grown as well!). Are you familiar with how to control a horse when horseback riding? This chapter contains such a great word picture regarding controlling our emotions and our helping our children to as well…but, I am getting ahead of myself.
The author states that “little girls need help sorting out their emotions–not so they can wallow in them, but so they can learn to control them.” So true. There can be so many emotions in a day…well, who am I kidding, in an hour or even in 10 minutes. I wish I was just talking about my children’s emotions…but of course, mine are in the mix as well! It is so easy as parents to deal with the moment and miss the joy and treasure of helping our children sort it out. It is so easy to forget that it is not just about the moment, but about the years. There must be an attempt to understand the emotions of the moment in order to assist with how those emotions will be a blessing or a challenge in the future.
Rachel gives the perfect word picture for those who know horses. Prepare yourself…here comes a long quote, but stick with me…it is worth it!
“We tell our girls that their feelings are like horses–beautiful, spirited horses. But, they are the riders. We tell them that God gave them this horse when they were born, and they will ride it their whole life. God also set us on a path on the top of a mountain together and told us to follow it. We can see for a long way–there are beautiful flowers, lakes, trees, and rainbows. (We are little girls after all!) This is how we “walk in the light as He is in the light, and have fellowship with one another.” (1 Jn. 1:7).
When our emotions act up, it is like the horse trying to jump the fence and run down into a yucky place full of spiders to get lost in the dark. A good rider knows what to do when the horse tries to bolt–you pull on the reins! Turn the horse’s head! Get back on the path! We also tell our girls that God told us if we see one of them down in a mud puddle spitting at people who walk by, it is our job to haul them up, willing or unwilling back to the path.”
Isn’t that a GREAT picture? We can control our emotions, just like a rider can control their horse. We can equip our daughters (and sons!) to control theirs too. We are not obliged to obey our emotions…we can pull up on the reins. We can get “the horse” out of the mud and back on the path. And, so can our children. What a joy it is to work to be equipped in this area and to equip our children as well.
How do we do this? Stop reacting. Talk with our children. Prepare them when we know we are walking into a situation where their emotions flare…possibly when going shopping with no intent to purchase their “wants” or maybe when it is time to clean their room. Or, maybe when it is time for bed or a bath or brushing teeth. Possibly when going through a school day.
We can help our children during these times by preparing them for what is next, being consistent with them when they struggle to obey and rewarding their obedience when they do rein in those emotions. We can encourage our children to rely on God during these times, just as we do as their parents. We can challenge our children to turn from their sinful pattern of emotions and turn toward a pattern of emotions that is respectful, others focused and trusting.
The author says, “The goal is not to cripple the horse, but equip the rider. A well-controlled passionate personality is a powerful thing. That is what dangerous women are made of. But, a passionate personality that is unbridled can cause a world of damage.” I completely agree. I find that when I let the big picture affect how I deal with the moment, I am much more successful in coming alongside my children in a way that blesses them and has lasting benefits.
What do you do to help your “spirited riders”? I look forward to your feedback!