I've been working on my Parelli Level 2, which is the natural horsemanship I'm learning with their home-based curriculum. You can check out their curriculum at: http://www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/ Right now they have a sale....
Anyway, Linda Parelli said something I thought was quite brilliant: horses and other prey animals frustrate predators to stay alive. If the predator gets frustrated enough, they will give up, and that horse gets to go on living another day.
That really changes how I understand a lot of interactions. I mean, if a horse is often losing confidence and exhibiting behaviors as a result of fear, then I'm bound to get frustrated. That is the whole point of their behavior. So what should I do? Well, I would take note of the behavior and my reaction to it, and if I feel frustrated, stressed or otherwise irritated, I can remember the purpose of this feeling from the point of a prey animal, relax, and retreat. That's the hard part - noticing the feeling withing yourself.
Next, I can take time to think about what I did, or what was in the environment, or frankly, what part of the horse's individuality, elicited the behavior. This is the fun/creative part. There are innumerable possibilities, so sort them out in a hierarchy, and pick one to try. Then try it! Remember to go through this process again until communication improves.
I bring all of this up because it seems very relevant for individuals and families as we deal with one another. So as not to offend, let's take children for example. They can be very frustrating at times. They won't eat, they hate bedtime, won't take a nap, won't pick up their things, they cry, get tired, and are downright frustrating at times. But we love them so. We have a choice here, and important one at that: we can become frustrated and ESCALATE or TAKE NOTE of how we feel. Say to yourself, "Hm, interesting. I feel frustrated."
If you are able to notice where in your body you feel frustration, that can be helpful, too. Next, remain calm. You need your frontal lobes right now, and they start to turn off the more adrenaline you make (horses are the same way). I should note, that it is usually MUCH easier to think about these things when it is NOT happening. You should plan for uncomfortable or not-pleasurable things that happen before they happen, so you can elicit a change in the moment.
Here is a helpful process from High-Fidelity Wraparound, and it is called a Functional Assessment:
- Clearly describe the potential crisis behavior, fequency, duration and intensity:
- What happens before the behavior occurs (triggers)? are there times/situations where the behavior does not occur? Why?
- What happens during the behavior? Does something make it worse?
- What happens after the behavior occurs? Is there a time when the behavior doesn't occur:
- Best guess about whey the behavior occurs? (what's the function of the behavior). What has been successfully tried in teh past?
- Select a positive replacement behavior.