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Joined: Feb 2007
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Koala
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I just got home from teaching gymnastics. My boss was teaching with me because the other instructor got in a car accident. I honestly thought I could teach all 12 kids on my own. I've done it before, many times, for entire sessions.

I couldn't. OH my gosh. First of all, I don't like how the other instructor teaches, but we won't get into that.

I used to have 1 bad kid a day. It would be, oh this is the class with the kid that doesn't listen.

Is it like that now? NO. In my first class I have 2 kids who don't listen, and they are 6. I've never had problems in this particular age group before. They get the whole class riled up (there are 4 kids.)

In my second class of 11 kids, ages 4-5, there are probably 4 kids who don't listen, and one of them is really bad, always running to mom.

In the third class of 12, I have three boys who refuse to participate, and they will hold the whole class up. For instance, the one boy won't do anything if his mom is watching, so he spends every turn shouting at her to turn around and stop looking at him (why she doesn't just step behind the 2-way glass and watch from there is beyond me.) Then after his turn he just wanders around and stands in front of kids who are trying to take their turn. Every time I have to tell him what to do, and he's 5. Then there is another kid who just sat and cried today, and when he finally participated, he wouldn't get off the rings so the other kids could have their turn.

Then of course there are the kids who just can't pay attention for more than 5 seconds. And then they start running around.

Oh my god. I'm going to hit my head against the wall. And this all was happening in front of my boss. Class was a wreck all morning. I don't think I can agree to doing another session.

I've never had problems like this. And the parents don't do anything to help. They stand and watch while I chase their child around the gym. I tried to get that kid off the rings for a full minute before his mom intervened, and then she had been sitting 10 feet from me watching.

And then, of course, when the parents FINALLY intervene, it is to hiss threats at their children, or to indulge them. There is NO correct discipline, and I'm terrified to do anything unless a parent says it's okay (I mean like making them miss a turn or sit out or something.) Because they HATE when you do anything like that.

I want to tell these parents to shape up! Like the kid who yells at his mom not to watch. Either tell him that YES you are watching or pull him out of the class until he can behave. The kids who refuse to participate, well, if they are going to run to you every 3 minutes because they CAN'T see you, then either sit where they can see you or take them out of class.

I can't put up with this, I'm too old!

The first class I had a chat with the parents (who were all watching their kids jumping on equipment, running around, etc.) They said, Oh, it's because of the holiday. It's THANKSGIVING! It's not like it's CHRISTMAS! And it's OVER!!!!

They apologized. I don't want an apology, I want you to control your children. I am not a disciplinarian, I am there to teach them gymnastics and keep them safe. I can't keep them safe if you can't train them to listen to me. That's not my job. And unfortunately, it's becoming more and more my job to teach them to pay attention. And that detracts from gymnastics, which is WHAT I AM PAID TO TEACH.

Before I used to get the excuse "he's slightly autistic" or "he's got ADD." Well, unless 1/3 of all kids now have ADD or autism, there is no excuse for this behavior.

Sorry, I had to vent, I was REALLY [censored] off. And normally when kids are acting out, I can control them and still remain cheerful, but today I think my frustration was coming out, and that is BAD. But it's not my fault. I know it's not me.

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Gecko
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First of all, I'd throw myself in front of a bus before I'd take on a job like yours!! You get my respect for just putting yourself in that situation!!

Personally, I'd be tempted to use the "we're going to sit and not do anything until Billy can listen/behave" - add some peer pressure to behave (and to Billy's parent from other parents who are paying for their kid to learn).

I think I'd have a frank discussion about the SAFETY issue with the parents - if a kid can't follow instructions and control their behavior, they or another child could get injured. Do you have the right to kick someone out of class for disrupting?

It also sounds like having the parents present is a distraction in itself. Maybe they are acting up just to get attention from their parents. Is there a way for parents to watch but not be immediately accessible - like through a window or doorway?


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Koala
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They are SUPPOSED to watch from behind the glass, but a lot of them don't want to. Also, there are other programs going on in the gym, and parents from OTHER classes are there, so they are talking where the kids can see.

I will definitely try new tactics next week.

I just wish I had all my own classes, or that I was the lead instructor in the classes. I feel like I can't do anything when the other teacher is the lead and he doesn't really do anything when kids act out (which doesn't help, either.)

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Jellyfish
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I agree with Tbunny. Safety is a definite issue. Could you talk with the parents and the kids together about appropriate behavior? That way everyone hears and (hopefully) understands at the same time. With your boss's support, you could even give a hand-out that outlines what is expected, so parents can refer to it and discuss it with their kids. Just an idea.

Parents who constantly give their kids excuses drive me nuts. One year I had messages from this parent every time her kid had the sniffles or a slight headache... Braddie is a little off today, just wanted to let you know. Braddie was throwing tantrums EVERY day because he didn't want to do any work, not because he had a headache.

I'd tell those parents that if their children can't behave, perhaps they should wait a year or two and then enroll them in gymnastics again, when they've had time to mature a bit, since clearly they are not ready now. Again, though, you'll need your boss's support.

Good luck, Ingilbert. I'm pulling for you.

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Oh wow. frown

My daughter does competitive cheerleading, and we share a gym with a pretty intense gymnastics training center.

Parents are not allowed to stay downstairs where the kids can see them. (We have an upstairs viewing deck to watch from). If a parent tries to stay downstairs, the office manager politely asks them to go to the viewing center.

And for kids who are older and have practices that last more than 1 hr, the parents are asked to please drop their kids off and come back after class. Exceptions are made for those that live farther away, of course.

I tried letting my 4 yr old (then 3)do the tiny tots tumbling while his sister's cheer practice was going on, and he was just not cut out for it. He just couldn't concentrate then, and thought everything was a playground. I left the viewing deck to go downstairs and take him out of class one time, and the instructor asked me to please wait, she would handle the discipline. So I went back upstairs and pulled my hair the rest of the practice. Afterwards I spoke with the instructor, and she agreed that he just wasn't ready - but she didn't want all of the parents coming down to interfere.

But one major thing we did, (for both the little one and my daughter's classes) was we were given a written list of safety rules - which included the viewing area caveat, and also a behavior expetations for the kids. We had to read this and sign it before our children were allowed to take the class. After so many warnings, our children would be dismissed - this meant warnings to kids OR parents.

Can you talk to your director about writing up something like this? It may be a little late to threaten removal from class, since the kids are already in it - but on the other hand, it is a safety issue. The gym should be allowed, and responsible, for making rules to keep the kids safe. I would think all it would take is one kid getting hurt because of another goofing around, and then the gym getting sued....


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Koala
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They get all these guidelines and a brief talk at the beginning of the session. Part of the problem is that we're a park district, and it's not a competitive area. I did talk to the parents and mentioned the safety issues. I think one reason I was really frazzled, though, was that my boss was there. I don't know why it bothered me so much ... she's about 4 years younger than me (just graduated college.)

I guess I'm also really frustrated in the way that the other instructor leads the class, and I was looking forward to today being like "old times" when I was the only instructor at all.

I didn't anticipate SO many problems!

Joined: Feb 2007
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Shark
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Ingilbert anyone who teaches, also disciplines. Teach, coach, it's all the same. Maybe have three easy rules and mention them at the beginning of class and then if you see an offender you can use "rule no. 2" or something. The simpler the better for little ones. These are just suggestions, but I did teach 18 kids in a one room school house K-8. And don't be so hard on yourself! I also coach a local youth team. Some days practice is productive and you feel great about it, and some days everyone should have stayed home.

Another thought, as long as safety isn't the issue, just ignore the offender. Kids want attention, negative or positive. Sometimes ignoring them does the trick. I saw a mother get up and leave her four boys in church one Sunday. It was wonderful! I think they were dumbfounded and it probably had a bigger impact on them than anything else she could have done.

You'll be great.

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Koala
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I know that I do have to discipline, but I shouldn't be the one introducing them to the concept, which seems to be the case more and more.

I'll give it to the end of the session. I had so looked forward to coming back and teaching again!

I guess I'm nervous, too, because it seems like a lot of parents don't like you disciplining little Suzy. I had problems before when I taught several years ago with parents complaining because I made Jimmy skip a turn because he wasn't listening, or whatever. Because since these kids have never heard "no," half of them don't care and the other half burst into full-blown tears if they don't get their way, and then the parents want to know why I'm making Suzy and Jimmy cry, when all I did was say (and nicely) that if they can't behave, they can't have a turn.

I ignore when the kids are babbling in line "look at me! Look at me!" But this session when I do that, the babbling elevates into almost screaming, and then they ALL start doing it.

And again, like I said, I'm kind of in a tough place since I'm not the lead instructor in these classes. The lead instructor lets the kids do whatever they want, so it's not my place to talk to the parents, and since I'm a returning coach (who was a lead coach before) I don't want to step on the other coach's toes.

Oh well. I'll just keep trying.

Joined: Mar 2007
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Amoeba
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seems like you point is really that kids are more out of control than they used to be, not so much asking for help on how to discipline them. i agree- I only know one child- 6yr old and her 3yr old twin sisters, who have been taught not to interrup when adults are talking. And if you ignore them they will stop with the "daddy daddy daddy me me me" whinning without escalating it. Other children will just keep getting louder and louder until that parent answers them. Also part of this is that the parents sometimes seem WAY to oblivious to their kids- I mean if a child is trying to get your attention, at least say, Not now, i'm talking to so-and-so" but don't make your kid say your name 500 times.

I hate that.

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Gecko
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Originally Posted By: Tbunny
First of all, I'd throw myself in front of a bus before I'd take on a job like yours!! You get my respect for just putting yourself in that situation!!


I admire that too...explaining something to a kid has to be one of the hardest things in parenthood. How do you talk to somebody who does not understand or, even worse, does not have the patience or desire to listen?


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