Parents DD is the class goof off -- Let it be or say something?

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May 26, 2008
My DD is a complete goof off lately in the gym. She just turned 4 and is in a developmental class twice a week. I don't care that she is being so silly from a gymnastics stand point. I'm not concerned that she isn't working hard or learning things. She's too little in my opinion to be serious. My concern is that she is a huge distraction to the other kids. She won't stay in line because she is too busy acting like different kinds of animals. She's never ready when it's her turn. She's always laughing and playing. This is a new thing because she has recently become really comfortable with the other kids and coaches.

The other kids are always getting in trouble for acting this way and the coach never says anything to my DD. It's push-ups for the others, but nothing for her when I think she is the cause of the problem. I'm not sure why she isn't being held to the same standard. On one hand I feel like it's not my job to discipline her during gym. That's her coaches job. And I'm happy that she's having so much fun. I only want her in the gym if she is having an absolute blast and she appears to be enjoying every second. Should I pull the coach aside and let her know that I want her to make DD behave better or just forget about it?

She is the youngest by about a year and a half so I'm thinking they just don't expect the same behavior. I also know they are doing move-ups very soon and the class size will be half of what it is now. It is mostly 6 year olds and a few 5.5 year olds. DD is not moving as far as I know. She's too young to compete for quite awhile so there's no point of moving up to level 4. So should I just see if a smaller class keeps her busy enough that she doesn't have time to be a silly head or should I say something? I guess if she is enough of a problem the coach will say something right?
She is being a 4yo and obviously having a good time. The coach probably isn't making her do push ups because she is just 4 and may consider it too harsh of a punishment for her. I would. I don't think its really your place to jump in unless she's really wild during class.

See how she does with a smaller group and maybe more girls closer in age? With a smaller class they may be able to keep her busier doing stations or whatever during her practice. Check in with the coach from time to time to see how she feels dd is doing and progressing.
I agree with GLM. She is only 4 and that is so young to have to wait around for turns, pay attention for long period of times, etc. If they don't think it is a problem, then I wouldn't worry about it.

If it really bugs you, maybe try to talk to her about it, but I think she is acting her age. Not many 4 year olds could stay still, wait their turn, etc. I know that my 6 1/2 year old has a hard time waiting for her turn sometimes. :D
Thanks because that echos my instinct! I see that she is having fun and making friends and just being herself. I guess my main worry is that other parents are annoyed with her distracting their kids. I don't want to be that parent eveyone is talking about. What prompted me to ask is that I overheard a parent talking to the coach about their child being annoyed because of someone acting silly. I really felt like they were talking about my DD. They have a right to feel that way, but their child is 7years old and will be moved up to level 4 starting next week to prepare to compete in the fall season.

We went to the gym tonight and she was great. I didn't say a word to her. She was in show-off mood because her grandmother came to watch her. I've never seen her more focused.

I do hope with the older girls moving up that her class is smaller or some kids her age get moved up. She has been fine with the older kids until recently. She's really shy and she just gotten comfortable enough to act silly.
You are right that your child should be having fun in the gym at her age, but it should not be at the expense of the other girls learning, she can still have lots of fun without being disruptive. Again this behavior is normal at her age, but she is in a special class with kids who are more dedicated than most her age and preparing to compete.

4 year olds are very clever and quick to recognise when they can get away with a certain behavior. I would say that she has picked up on the fact that she is going to get away with being silly while the older girls arent and she is pushing it. This is not because its fun to be silly, this is usually because she needs to see where the limits are so she is pushing them. To be placed in this group she obvioulsy enjoys working hard and can have lots of fun in this group without being silly. But when you are that age and the coach allows it it is hard not to do it. Until the coach is firmer with her she wont be able to enjoy practise as much as she could. 4 year olds want and need firm boundaries and structure and function poorly without them.

I would definatly chat to the coach if the behavior continues and let them know that you would like her to be pulled up for this sort of behavior and you know she is only 4, but that makes it only more important that the coaches are clearer with behavior expectations.

As you say it is the coaches job to discipline her in class, but your involvement and support can also play a very important role. Praise her when you see the good behavior and point out top her when she gets a new skill that she did that because she was so focused and she will see that behaving well helps her enjoy gymnastics more than being silly does.
Personally I don't think I'd want to know a 4 yr old that was overly serious about training. At her age, it's ONLY about fun.

To me, being disruptive is disrespectul to others, specifically the coaches. I would definately have a chat with my DD. I would explain that the coaches are trying to teach, and keep everyone safe. They can't do that when they are being constantly distracted by her clowning. This isn't recess or daycare. Yea have fun...but cool it! Just my opinion is all.
Good post Aussie. I have to say that after reading your post, it makes a lot of sense. 4 year olds definitely know who lets them do what. I see it at the gym even with bigger girls. They aren't expected to behave and they don't. Or they behave only with certain coaches.

As for other parents being upset with you. I have to admit it might upset me if it was a distraction to the class or my child and it was on a regular basis. Especially if the child my child was really working hard to get skills to move up, etc. There is a huge difference between a 4 year old and a 7 year old and it probably isn't the best to have them in a class together, unless the 4 year old was very mature for their age.

It is hard to know what to do. If it were my kid, I would probably talk to the coach about it and ask them to expect a little more of her, not push ups, but maybe a time out. I definitely talk to my DD about behavior though as I don't let her play around in class. Have fun, yes, but play around, no. Especially at the level she is at. It is a privilege for her to be able to be at the gym. My DD was just barely starting gymnastics at 4, so all they did was play. At 5 she was in a more a devo class, but all the girls were similar in age and her coach was very good at keeping them in line.

Good luck figuring out what to do. Being a parent has it's challenges! :D
Great response Aussie, exactly what I was thinking regarding the rest of the class. It is great that your daughter is having fun, but you want the fun to come from the gymnastics she is learning.

I don't know when the goofiness started but keep in mind also, children have dramatic attitude changes during the holidays. So if this started in December I would give it some time to get back in the routine and see how it goes when the class dynamic changes.

In the mean time it is never a bad idea to re-enforce the rules of the gym before class. This doesn't mean you are doing the discipline for the teacher it just lets her know that you are still watching and know what she is doing.
After watching my DD at her last practice I'm beginning to think part of the problem is the student to teacher ratio and how the coach structures the practice. At her last practice they did floor and vault. Floor was a a bunch of stations with the coach being at one to spot back handsprings, back walkovers etc. She was busy and had no problem. Same with vault. They took turns vaulting, but had other things set to work on to minimize the waiting. Her issues come on days they do beam and bars. Due to space they work out one at a time on bars and beam with nothing else to do between turns. There are 12 girls in the class.

This has been a relatively new behavior issue for her and I was attributing it to her becoming more comfortable witht the others. When I thought about it she has only come on Mondays (beam and bars day) for the past 3 weeks. We went to a family member's concert the Thursday preceding Christmas, the next Thursday was Christmas and the next Thursday was New Year's. So maybe she isn't as bad as a think. Monday will be the first day without the older kids. Hopefully the group will remain smaller.
Maybe the coach could set up a few stations using floor bars or pre-school bars if the gym has the equipment. Even a small beam or spotting block can be used for squat-on drills etc. Of course if these aren't available, any type of fun strength exercises for bars or balance drills for beam are always helpful.
Putting on my coach hat here though, I wouldn't necessarily want a parent suggesting stations to me, but you are perfectly within your rights to discuss your concerns with the coach. Maybe you could express your worry that your daughter's behavior is somewhat disruptive and say that you have observed when it occurs and why you think this is (she needs to be kept more busy!). A good coach should see this herself and have fixed it already, but with a 1:12 ratio it's hard to have time to analyze everything. If the coach cannot find extra stations for the class after you speak to him/her, a gentle word with the head coach or gym owner may be best.
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