Choices

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Mon Cœur (MC) loves “neigh-neighs,” or horses or chevaux. As we drive down the road, she points out any horses she sees. We have to walk to a neighbors house to see the neigh-neighs, and if she doesn’t see them, she says, “Wake up neigh-neighs!” When I drive into town now, I try to add a cushion of 15 minutes so we can take a back road instead of the highway and MC can see the horses.

Let me back up – MC loves to see horses from a distance, where their true size is not intimidating. When they are close enough to pet, she realizes that their head is as big as her body, and that makes her a little anxious. It takes a while with either Chou chou or me standing calmly next to the horse and petting him before MC warms up to the idea.

We recently visited family and they have three horses at their country home. MC enjoyed walking over every day and seeing them. She even helped feed them some grain one afternoon. Our uncle offered to saddle one up so MC could ride, and we thought that would be awesome for her…

Forgetting that she had to warm up to these beautiful beasts, we enthusiastically said, “Yeah! Let’s let her ride a horse!” After about five minutes of saddling and five warming up the horse, our uncle came back to turn over the reigns…

At which point, MC reminded us while whimpering, that she was terrified of horses up close. I started to ask her, “Do you want to ride the horse?” but stopped myself and channeled a tip from a book I’m reading, How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, by Joanna Faber and Julie King. Instead of asking her a yes/no question where I knew she would say, “No,” I gave her a choice. I asked her who she wanted to ride with, Mommy or Daddy. She was emphatic in her choice with, “Daddy!” Which made my heart sing, and took my Chou chou by surprise – I had inadvertently put him on the spot! She took two laps around the ring, and then Chou chou asked her if she wanted to ride with Mommy and she did.

Crisis averted! Whenever I think MC might say no to something or be adverse when I am hopeful for an amazing experience for her, I try to give her choices instead of asking a question that is sure to get a, “No!”

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