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Behaviour issues. (Parents and coaches, please weigh in!)

Discussion in 'Trampoline & Tumbling (TRA)' started by LucyTRA, Jul 11, 2015.

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  1. I coach a rec tramp session with what is generally a very nice bunch of kids. Recently there is a girl who has started pushing the boundaries. It has always been a feature of use club that the coaches have a good rapport with the kids and will make jokes. There is a lot of give and take with this and the kids generally know what they can get away with.

    Anyway, this girl is about 9, and started hitting me. It was fairly inane to begin with; I was talking to her (whatever I said was not significant enough for me to be able to remember it!) and I cracked a joke, something about her being an old lady, which at 9, she very clearly isn't. Her response was to walk around the back of me and slap me, and then shake her finger in my face and say 'no!' Like she was a parent telling me off. She was laughing and I let the fact that she had hit me (it wasn't hard) slide. It happened again in the same training session and I gave her a warning look and a firm, 'no, thank you.'. She had the grace to look slightly embarrassed and I assumed that would be the end of the issue, but shortly after she did it AGAIN, in front of her dad who did absolutely nothing. This time I cracked out my 'teacher voice' and firmly told her that hitting people was never ok, and that I did not have to put up with that sort of behaviour. I looked directly at dad, who mumbled something about 'yes darling, we have asked you not to hit people'. Instead of apologising she tried to make an excuse, which dad left unchecked (I set her straight when he failed to!)

    Que next session, and she turns up and informs us that she will not be doing any body landings today because she is 'too sad'. She was very clearly doing this for attention and looked anything but sad, obviously wanted us to ask why. My colleague asked her what was making her sad and she tells us her cat died. We spent a moment talking to her about how that is very sad and if she gets upset she can go out and take a moment etc, then saying that being sad doesn't limit her ability to work hard and if she is here she needs to participate.

    She wanted free play so we gave her a bit of time. After 15 mins we told her she needs to work on x skill. She ignores us. We repeat it, she says 'no, I'm just going to have free play'. My colleague says that she is here to work and she has had her free play she says 'I don't care!' By this point the whole group are quiet and pretty shocked at her tone with us. I tell her to sit out, and ah turns around and says 'I don't PAY YOU to sit out!'. My jaw (and the rest of the kids!) almost hit the floor and she was told in no uncertain terms that she would be sitting out, and that SHE doesn't pay either of us for anything.

    I don't know what to do with her, and writing it out I think I'm going to get a load of people telling me that she was just acting out in grief and I was too mean. But this stuff (the attitude, the hitting, refusing to listen to instructions) has been brewing for much longer than the cat issue. Any ideas???
  2. I'd have sat her for sure under the circumstances you report. Sounds like it's time for a chat with the parents. If you are concerned that the parents may not hear you, I'd suggest framing it in terms of safety and respect for the coaches who are instructing her in ways to ensure her safety. I'm sorry you are experiencing this. It sounds quite irritating, though it's possible that something going on in her life is driving the behavior. If that's the case, then the best thing you can do for her is provide a consistent environment with clear boundaries.
    l.c.o, duyetanh, robyntai24 and 4 others like this.
  3. The mouthy-ness is a major concern. Are her parents verbally antagonistic? I ask because what she said about not paying you to sit out sounds like something a parent would say.

    I think you were within your bounds.
    LindyHopper, l.c.o and COz like this.
  4. tell her, and her parents, that her behaviour is unaceptable, reiterate the code of conduct, tell her further infractions will result in her being sat down and or sent out and don't put up with that behaviour
    Lisbeth, l.c.o, duyetanh and 3 others like this.
  5. I'm sorry. What you describe is very unacceptable (for any age, but definitely 9). It sounds you have handled it appropriately to this point with increasingly stern and direct intervention.

    I would definitely have a chat with both her and parents together. Acknowledge your empathy at the loss of a pet, and how that can make anyone upset and maybe act differently, so stress that this talk is not merely about that one episode. Then proceed to clearly spell out the philosophy of the class, the goals of the class, and the rules of conduct - what is expected of students in class, WHY those rules are important to the class (such as safety, equality, respect, and achievement) , and what the specific consequences are (for anyone) if boundaries are crossed in the future (warning, sitting out, calling parents - be specific and speak with matter-of-fact, calm-and-unapologetic authority). Then in the spirit of moving forward, compliment her on something honestly, and express your genuine positivity for working with her to help her improve her skills going forward. Ask if they have any questions about the class goals, rules, or expectations.

    If they want to leave after that, let them. Make sure your boss/head coach knows about the situation so in case they complain, she/he is not blindsided and prepared to respond knowing your account.

    One never knows what's going on at home/elsewhere and where these behaviors come from. But imo all you can do is try to level set with everyone on board as a next step. If it still doesn't work, then get a boss/owner involved, but lets hope a group conversation helps the child make better choices.

    As a parent, though I have sympathy for children who may be acting out, I would not be happy if that child was in class with mine and the coach let it go unchecked. That would assuredly have a negative affect on my child's class experience.
  6. My son , who is 9 , decided he was going to act out in class also . The coach screamed at him , and he ran out. I went out & he was hysterical crying . I decided at that point at it was time to take a break. So until he can learn how to behave .. No more practice . I don't think yelling was the right way to Handle the situation but I don't want my child disrupting class.

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    Chalky and sce like this.
  7. At 9, this behavior is totally unacceptable.....really at any age, this is unacceptable.
    As a parent, (I am not a coach so I can't guess what it do) I would immediately take her out of the class and she would be in trouble for being disrespectful to a teacher. Period.

    As for joking around and goofing off with the kids, you may have to curb this since it can blur the boundaries for the kids. Kids need to know who is in charge, what is ok and not ok, at all times. Consistency is key.

    Call a meeting with the parents, and the gym manager together.....chances are the parents will either be horrified and immediately react, OR they will totally be on her side, and you will be the bad guy.....then you will know what to do with the kid.

    Sorry, this is totally awful for you and your class.....:(
    duyetanh, Chalky and heatherncastro like this.
  8. At no point did Lucy say yell. The child yelled and hit her!

    Unfortunately there are many parents blessed with "perfect" children there days with the inability to do wrong, unfortunately I missed out on those and have had to teach mine now to behave!
  9. I agree . My sons coach used to Rough house , play fight, and stuff . Well now my child thinks it's a joke to hit and punch him . Well now it's not funny anymore because the coach ain't playing.

    Sent from my iPhone using ChalkBucket
  10. I was talking about the situation with my child .. I didn't think the coach yelling at him was appropriate ..

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  11. I know we have a written statement in our gym handbook that says what the behavior policy is. I think it's a pretty standard 1st ofence verbal warning, 2nd ofence "time out", 3rd ofence leaving class. It's possible that the parents have already signed something agreeing to a set behavior policy. It would be worth figuring that out. But definitely let the HC/GO know what's going on. Hopefully he/she will have your back and better that he/she hears about it from you before he/she hears from the parents. For what it's worth, if it was my kid, I'd want to know. Start with a compliment... "Until a few weeks ago, Suzie was working really hard in class and was making real progress on her X skill, but recently I've been noticing some behaviors that are disrupting class and making it difficult for her to make progress in practice."
  12. I wish that my Childs coach would have been stricter & more structured from the beginning. He tried to be friends with his students & that was a bad idea .

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    Chalky likes this.
  13. This is a difficult thing to explain through writing. I am a school teacher outside of coaching and I know all about setting up boundaries and high expectations. However, a recreational class that kids attend for fun is very different to school and I do not expect them to treat me in the same way that they would treat their teachers. I expect them to treat everyone with respect, obviously, but the atmosphere has to be more relaxed than it would be if the kids were, for example, in school. I wouldn't say that the coaches are ever 'goofing off' with the kids, and all I really mean is that there is a generally relaxed atmosphere where the kids are generally having fun and we encourage that.

    Separate point about speaking to GO/HC, we are not talking about a gym per se but a little club running a rec session (not in a purpose built centre) HC (quite reasonably) likes to keep parents very much on side, and I am slightly concerned that she will side with them and ask why I deprived their child of the service they pay for. However, everyone seems to agree that kicking her off the beds was a reasonable course of action, which is reassuring!
    COz likes this.
  14. LucyTRA, please don't take offense, I didn't mean you were goofing off, all I meant was that some kids don't see the same boundaries as others. A harmless joke to one, may mean a serious insult to another. You can still have a lighthearted fun class without certain joking......
    We have a girl on our team that simply has no ability to separate a joke from an insult. She comes out of class crying often and mom seems to really baby the girl.....I have asked many girls in the group and they say this girl is two faced, conniving, and mean.....when a coach makes a harmless joke at her expense, and someone so much as giggles, the girl is out the door crying.......the coaches have learned NOT to engage this kid, or joke with her.....they can't afford it since a complaint may mean their job....so they keep their distance.
    duyetanh and heatherncastro like this.
  15. She's been warned, she's been "sat out", you've brought it to the attention of the parents ...next time ( if there is one) tell her that it is the last time...and toss her. With parents ( not) responding as you describe, this will only get worse...
    twinmomma, e'smum, gymmomtoo and 2 others like this.
  16. It certainly sounds like she found she could act up a bit and has now decided to test the boundaries to see just how far she can push it. This is the time you need to set limits.

    I would take a step procedure.
    1. When she starts to act up correct her behaviour in a clear and firm tone, at this point I would not warn of consequences but state it in such a way that she knows you mean what you say and expect it will be followed.

    2. If the behaviour continues a clear warning that she will sit out if it continues.

    3. If it continues then she sits out for 10 minutes. At the end of the time out make sure you explain clearly why she was sat out and what you expect. But then let it go, you don't want her to feel like you hold a grudge. If she starts to behave and do the right thing find ways to praise her so she knows it was the behaviour you rehpjected and not her and that you won't hold it against her.

    4. If the behaviour continues repeat the time out process. A lot of the time kids will misbehave again after the time out to prove thT they don't care and that the consequence didn't affect them, it's just a way of appearing tough. Don't display emotion just continue with the consequence. She will soon be bored of sitting out a lot.

    5. If she has had multiple time outs I would inform the parents.

    6. If it just continues lesson after lesson l the parents know that continuous poor behaviour will lead to her suspension from the program.
    heatherncastro and COz like this.
  17. I am not a coach but am a parent. That behavior sounds awful. The child sounds quite manipulative and it sounds like her parents don't see it. That makes the situation quite tricky for you to manage. As an example of manipulative, most kids would just come in and say that their cat died and they are sad; she led with the I can't do x because I'm so sad, and waited to be asked about it etc. The kid needs clear firm boundaries. Sounds like the free play when requested needs to stop too. Maybe offer the chance for free play at the end if everyone cooperates during class.
  18. you had better put a stop to this sooner than later. trouble on the horizon if you don't.
    heatherncastro and sce like this.
  19. As a coach, I have had to deal with tons of situations, but NEVER have I had a kid intentionally hit me. If any of the kids I coached, acted like that they would be sitting out. I would immediately go to your boss or whoever is in charge and inform them of the problem (but have your colleague be there also). That way there is more than one person who sees the problem the way you do. As a coach, I do not expect kids to treat me the way they would at a school, but I do expect to be treated respectfully.
  20. Phew. Ok, ideas.

    -Someone has taught her that hitting is normal and ok. She, her siblings, her mother, or someone else in her life, is regularly being hit.

    -She wants control badly, likely because everything else in her life is totally out of her control.

    -She wants attention, same reasoning.

    -The fun and casual atmosphere of gym is seen as a great place to get the attention and control she can't get in other areas of life.

    -She may have developmental disabilities which stop her being able to understand social cues and boundaries like a normal child would.

    I realize you are not her psychologist and it is not your place to delve so deeply into her private life. But you asked for ideas...just some food for thought.

    Strategy-wise from your position options are limited. What about giving her the control and attention she needs in a positive, useful way - like having her demonstrate skills to the group, or be the leader in some way, or giving her small tasks and framing it like you are happy to have her be your special helper? The hitting is trickier. Time outs might help, but you don't want to go to the point where you are giving her lots of negative attention by having detailed discussions about the rules, or having a talk after with her and her parent. Negative attention is still attention. And if she gets attention by being "bad", to the child's unconscious mind, bad attention is still better than no attention at all. Again, just food for thought.
    heatherncastro likes this.
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