The harshest fighting words kids say to each other…
“You’re not my friend!”
Ouch… that hurts a little child’s heart so much and the child that says it, is also hurt by it. Some show their hurt through aggression, some cry, some kids are quiet the rest of the class. Obviously, this is not what the kids are trying to say. They are trying to tell the other child that they are upset with something they did. So, give them the words so they are better prepared next time.
Teaching kids to communicate effectively is more important than teaching a cartwheel…
Here is an example of how I deal with the “You’re not my friend!” drama.. when I saw what happened..
Susy: “Olivia says she is not my friend anymore! WHAAAA!”
Coach DaniBee: “Oh, that’s strange since we are all friends and teammates… So, that might not be what Olivia really means. I think she might be upset that you pushed her out of the way when it was your turn instead of saying “excuse me” and waiting for her to move out of the way before your turn. Olivia, is that what you are trying to say? That you are upset that she pushed you out of the way?”
Coach DaniBee: “Ok. Maybe next time you don’t like something someone does instead of saying “You are not my friend”, tell them what made you upset and tell them nicely that you don’t like that. But, we can still fiends with people that make us upset sometimes."
"We can still friends with people that make us upset sometimes.”
The kids still might be upset with each other, but the more you don’t pay attention to their dispute the less importance they will give it. Just play it off like it isn’t a big deal anymore and they will follow along.
This is how I deal with the “You’re not my friend!” drama.. when I didn’t see what happened.
Susy: “Olivia says they are not my friend anymore! WHAAA!”
Coach: “Oh, that’s strange since we are all friends and teammates… So, that might not be what Olivia really means. Olivia, it seems that you may be upset about something Susy did. Can you tell me what happened? Oh, ok. It seems that you are upset because Susy went first on the station and you wanted to go first. So maybe you can ask Susy if you guys can take turns going first. Go ahead, you can say, “Susy, I want to go first too. Let’s take turns going first. Can I go first on the next station?”
Olivia: “Can I go first next time, Susy?”
“Look at that, friends! That is what friendship is all about! Talking to each other! Great job!”
This week was transportation week - we talked about different types of transportation, what is transported and how.
I like to allow my students to participate in their gymnastics experience. If I hear a child say something that will add to the experience- I will try my best to change my lesson plan to incorporate it. Here is a great example that happened in one of my classes this week.
Coach DaniBee - “Alright guys, we just talked about how airplanes are a form of transportation because it transports people and goods from one place to another- so, let’s go on an airplane adventure! Everyone get into your airplane straddles! Now, for airplanes to be able to take off, they have to gain enough speed down the runway first. So, hold on to your airplane ankles, airplane pilots, and bring your body as close to the floor as you can. Here we go! Duck your head to go faster! 3, 2, 1 lift off! Bring your airplane wings (arms) out to the side, and now we are flying!”
4 year old - “My airplane is aerodynamic!”
(My jaw almost hit the ground- aerodynamic?! That is quite a big word for a small 4 year old. But, surely he doesn’t know what it means…)
Coach DaniBee- “Ooooh yeah?! What does that mean?”
4 year old- “My airplane goes really fast!”
(Impressive! How can I incorporate this word into my lesson plan?)
Coach DaniBee- “Wow! Did everyone hear that? His airplane is aerodynamic because it goes really fast! How can we make our planes be more aerodynamic, or to go faster? Maybe we can push our knees down straighter.. maybe we can have our arms out straighter.. maybe when we make our turns we can put our bodies closer to our legs..”
Now the kids are working on their gymnastics form, on body awareness in a super fun and educational way… I mean, they are learning about aerodynamics in gymnastics! - and not because it was in my lesson plan, but because a 4 year old contributed to the experience. Now, I add the word aerodynamic into my airplane straddle warm ups with all the classes I teach! Thank you, Mr. 4 year old genius kid!
Kids can teach you too.
Danielle Baker has been a gymnastics coach since 2001. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and is a former preschool teacher. She is CEO of DaniBees Activities, mobile gymnastics company, in Los Angeles.