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!”
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.