If you’re thinking something’s not quite right, maybe it isn’t… Warning signs in children that something’s not quite right.
Everyone has an ‘off-day’ now and again, some more frequently than others, and sometimes an obvious effect is noticed, other times you can’t tell. I suppose this could be the resilience of different people and the different affects of their personalities, but if in doubt you should always ask… So I was coaching a boy a couple of weeks ago, (lets call him Robin) who seems naturally quite talented at picking things up quickly and has the advantage of some background general gymnastics. On this particular occasion though, none of these usual characteristics were displayed. I had my first spoiler just after I arrived and was checking the trampoline. Robin was on the crash mat on the other side of the trampoline, on his own.
Something happened while I was completing the centre’s weekly safety checklist and he suddenly burst into what can only be described as whining tears. I looked up startled, glanced at mum who was nearby, and then asked him what was wrong. Rather than being his usual communicative self, he continued to whine something I couldn’t comprehend and went to him mum for a cuddle. Now at this point I’m sure you’ll agree that there are children for whom going immediately to a parent is their normal response. For ‘Robin’, this is less usual and the whining tears were completely out of character.
Anyway, as accidents happen and he was keen to have his warm up go, the class progressed as usual and he seemed to perk up, so I didn’t think anything more of it- Until we were working on a new skill for him, hands & knees forward turn over. Robin hasn’t progressed very far because his attendance isn’t very high, so whenever he’s had a break, I go over the previous progressions, which for him doesn’t take long. So I asked him to do a forward roll, something easy, and usually fun for those that can do it. His first response was a whined “No, I don’t waant to.” That was odd.
Robin’s the kind of kid that loves doing two or three in a row, and now he didn’t want to do any? I carefully explained that this was what he needed in order to do the H&K 3/4 somersaults that we were doing a couple of weeks previously. The answer was still no. I changed tack and said we could do something else now, but he was going to do some on his next turn. Reluctantly he agreed to do 3 forward rolls on his next go, if he could do the ‘other move’ (3/4 turnover). I countered that they had to be good ones. They weren’t.
I began to doubt why there was a tick in my handwriting next to the skill – they weren’t straight, veering lopsidedly to one corner and then sort of collapsed like a sack of potatoes, without any ‘feet’ or attempt at a stretch. One of them even stopped upside down on the head (which wasn’t tucked) and didn’t ‘roll’ at all. I said to Robin that I needed to see 4 that were straight, with his head tucked in, chin on chest before I could let him do the h&K turnover. When they weren’t consistent enough to move forward, he got upset and burst into tears!
At this point mum stepped in to play rescue and tried to explain over the whines why the answer was no this week (thank goodness she was around and paying attention to what was going on!) When she managed to calm him down and send him off to play, I mentioned it wasn’t like him to be so upset (I was thinking it also wasn’t like him to be so… inconsistent on the trampoline either!) That’s when mum said that Granddad had died a couple of weeks previously and that he was tired after a late night last night. The veil was lifted. This of course could explain the unusual behaviour and I could certainly afford to cut the poor kid some slack. I was hitting myself, because I’d been thinking in my head that he was behaving unusually, and really, I should have asked, since mum was there, if there was any reason for it.
Alas that is one lesson learned in hindsight! Let’s hope my tale will help you in spotting the warning signs and remember to ask if something’s ‘different’.
Happy Bouncing everyone 🙂