Coaching rec and naughty kids

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Oct 7, 2013
I currently coach 2 separate rec classes on different days but one of my classes has a problem child in it... The little boy in question refuses to do what he is told is unsafe and mean. E.g yesterday we were on bars and one of the stations was to front support walk along the top of the bar that we had set up (boxes were stacked so there was easy access and etc so that wasn't a problem) this child then proceded to hang upside down with his legs on the bar and flip off of the bar ( completely off) and when I looked over and saw this happening I had to basically grab the children off the bar that I was spotting ( I want coaching the station he was on) and run over pick him up off the ground and plonked him down next to my feet for the rest of the lesson he kept crawling away and I had to keep dragging him back and sitting him down again which means I clumsy spot the pullovers on bars so everyone missed out :( what a shame... When it was the end of the lesson we all lined up on the line and I havetr students stickers but when some of the other children wee choosing he demanded !HURRY UP AND GIVE ME MY STICKER! I didn't end up giving him a sticker because he was so rude and naughty that day. My question is -how can I controll this only problem is now some other kids are starting to follow his actions... I'm lost please help
Do you have a lead or head rec coach? Ask them to observe and get their suggestions. As a last resort ask your boss if you are allowed to remove the child and take him to his parents.
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You know what I really think you should do with a kid like that? Put him on your team! Yes, what he is doing is dangerous but it shows something else as well. It shows he is one of those fearless kids who is willing to try anything, it shows he is a kid who enjoys challenging his body and testing his limits, it shows he has a good aerial awareness and a sense of himself physically. Just the kind of kid that is born to do gymnastics!

I am not saying you should except dangerous behaviour and not following instructions, but tones that just seem to not be able to help themselves to try things like this often end up being your most talented gymnasts.

Now a few tips for the behaviour.

1. You need to make expectations clear, you know that this behaviour is dangerous but this child does not know it, he doesn't have the forethought to think "Gee, I might land on my head and break my neck". He only knows its fun, punishing for doing this without letting him know it's not okay won't help because he won't know what he did wrong. If you see this behaviour the first thing to do is stop the whole class and sit them down and explain why. In most cases you won't see it again.

2. 21st century kids are different, they are not taught to blindly follow the instructions of an adult. In many ways this is a good thing, back in the old days kids were often a bused because they were taught they had to do what an adult says no matter what. Kids are taught to think for themselves, so we need to discipline them with this in mind. It's very important for kids to know why something is dangerous.

So once you establish to the kids what the expectations are and why they need to follow them, sure, you will still have kids who defy you, the next steps are as follows.

1. Praise the kids doing the right thing. A lot of time kids do the wrong thing because they forget and get distracted or because they want attention. One great way to combat this is to praise the kids who do the right thing. Look for kids doing the activity correctly and say things like "Wow, Johnny is so strong he can make it the whole way across the bars without bending his arms". Or set it up as a challenge "it's really hard to get the whole way across without bending your arms, I'll be so impressed if anyone can do it". The kids who want to challenge themselves physically or who want attention will quickly do the right thing.

2. Redirect the behaviour. Instead of focusing on the wrong thing then try to encourage them to do the right thing. Like "Billy come and show me how good your front support is". Or "Dam I want to see how far you can get across this bar in front support".

If these methods fail obviously you need to discipline the child, but the way you did it could land you in a lot of trouble. I notice that you are from Australia and there are certain laws and expectations when it comes to physically handling children. Reasonable force is allowed only to the point to stop the child hurting themselves or others. Dragging them off the equipment and plonking them at your feet and dragging them back to your feet when they move could be construed as innapropriate. You don't want to be sued.

Some suggestions for discipline.

1. Once you establish that the child is being deliberately defiant and can't be redirected with positivity. Change your tone of voice and redirect. Ie "James, that is not the correct activity, you need to go to front support and walk across on your hands". Use a very firm and low tone of voice, the change in tone will let the child know you mean what you say. Its best to tell them what you want them to do, so that is the picture in their head rather than tell them to stop what you don't want them to do.

2. If the behaviour continues issue a firm warning "Jack, I have told you to do the activity correctly, if you continue to behave in a dangerous way you will have to go and sit out". Firmly state exactly what the consequence will be.

3. If it continues issue a time out. Your feet is probably the worst possible place in the gym for time out. The child can continue to get you attention by squirming round and crawling away. They can continue to get attention from other children, they can get overstimulated by the equipment and the other kids. Time out should be a spot away fro. The group, away fro. The equipment where they can just sit, but of course somewhere you can still see them.

4. To get the child to go to time out, don't drag them, use firm eye contact and a firm voice. If they refuse one of the best things to do is start them focusing on what they can do to get out of this situation. While they are refusing they see this as the only way to get out of it. What you can do say is "Jack, I've told you to go to time out, show me that you can listen and do the right thing and I will ask you to join back in". This way the child can focus on doing the right thing and improving their behaviour.

Sitting them out for the rest of the lesson is unhelpful. Because they will get bored very quickly and start to disrupt for attention, making it very hard for you to coach. Also it does not give them a chance to learn fro. Their mistakes and fix their behaviour. If they feel like they have messed it up and there is no coming back to class, they will have no quarks about continuing to misbehave as they have no good reason not too.
When we have a child that repeatedly acts up, another teacher takes the child to the parent. They are told they can return when they are ready to follow directions (said in front of the parent as well as telling the parent what they were asked to do and what they CHOSE to do instead). Additionally, the parent is told that if it happens 2x in one class (classes are only 1 hour), that the child will be excused for the rest of the day. If the child is dismissed 2 classes in a row, they are done for the month... and the next month, if the child re-enrolls, we make sure to have an extra coach handy for that class (over and above the number normally needed for the class).
If there are STILL problems, the child is not allowed to come back until the behavior is corrected.
I don't think I used the right words explaining the last part... I removed the child from the apparatus he was on (pulled him off the bars) because he would if fallen off into his head if I hadn't of gotten him off the bars! There was only 3 mins left of the lesson anyway so he wasn't out for a long time and by dragging I meant picking up and putting back next to my feet. The head rec coach and I had discussed this little boy and she said to make him sit by my feet as a time out. Thanks for all the great tips I'm ping to use them this week when I go back in and will report back soon!! Xx
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I would definitely relook at the place for time out, next to your feet is not ideal. Perhaps discuss with the head coach a more suitable spot in the gym where he won't be lashing out, still looking for attention and endangering the class by you having to constantly grab him.
I really took interest in this child tonight and Spent a lot if time on him and challenged him on every circuit! His attitude totally changed and he was attentive and normal! There is a test for all the rec kids to see if thy can go into a development team at the end of the term and I'm pushing him so that he can get onto one of those teams, along with others in my group. I'm glad that I have finally figured out how to make my class work smoothly :)
That is awesome to hear Pam-Da-Gymanst a lot of coaches would just do their best to get rid of the child and dismiss him as being too difficult. But thanks to you he is now going to have a chance to be really successful in the sport.

He is probably one of those kids who is in trouble at school too, and for him to have an activity he can do well in will do wonders for his confidence.
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Great work! It can be really tricky to find out just what makes a kid "tick", especially when it is one who misbehaves in such outwardly inappropriate ways. Making expectations (as well as appropriate consequences) clear is a great first step, as well as showing him you are invested in him and his progress and believe in his abilities. Keeping them busy is also a great thing! Lots of stations with clear explanations of what to do.
Sometimes I find it helpful to talk to the parents after a class- not as a means to tell them their child has misbehaved or is a challenge in class- but to say something along the lines of "I think little X is very talented, has some great skills, and lots of energy. Do you have any tips on how I can better direct that energy?" You can obviously make it more specific based on the specific strengths and needs of the individual child, but parents can provide some great insight into the best ways to get their child to focus and excel in the gym.
Great work on taking an interest in this child!
@coachmolly I actually know the little boys parents as there daughter is on my gymnastics team so we are constantly talking about his behaviour and she is happy and supportive of whatever I choose e.g when I didn't give him a sticker when he was rude he ran to his mum and cried to her that I was mean and didn't give him a sticker. she asked him why he didn't get a sticker and he said because he was naughty and she said 'we'll that's why you didn't get a sticker, you weren't a good boy so you didn't deserve a sticker' I think this is one of the best parents out of all my teams so happy to be out of my muddle thanks everyone for all your help
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