Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 08:28:22 AM

Title: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 08:28:22 AM
Hi all,

I'm trying to decide what to do (if anything) about an episode that occurred in my DS's (he is 9) gym class yesterday.  He got in trouble because he was walking around swinging a piece of gym equipment around (light and plastic) and accidentally hit another kid in the hand.  Kid was totally fine, and DS apologized, but when the gym teacher addressed the issue, DS started slapping himself in the face.  He does this when he feels really stupid, and I really hate it.  It doesn't happen often anymore though, so I was a little surprised that he did this.

DS told me that the teacher told him that what he was doing was "ridiculous" and "stupid".  I made sure to clarify that the teacher called the action stupid, not DS. 

So, DS ended up being written up and has to sit out at the next gym class. 

DH and I agree that the teacher shouldn't have used the word "stupid", but DH is perfectly fine with letting it go.  I'm having a harder time being ok with this, but I also don't want to make a huge deal about it.  If I do decide to address it, does anyone have any suggestions on how to politely ask the gym teacher to drop the word "stupid" from his vocabulary when addressing his students? 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Sharnita on October 18, 2012, 08:35:59 AM
As a teacher I agree that it is a bad word to use. I ill say that it is more habitual rather than thought through - kind of like your son's slapping himself in his face.  Both are inappropriate and frustrating responses to the situation but I doubt either was thought through.

I might visit the coach and explain that son does it because he feels stupid, that you personally hate it and are trying to break him of it but that the last thing that will work is to try to make him feel stupid because his doing that is a signal he already feels that way.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Twik on October 18, 2012, 08:44:01 AM
Have you gotten any professional help with the slapping habit? I had something very similar, and looking back I think it would have been better to be taught how to deal more productively with the stress of not being perfect, rather than simply be told "don't do those actions".

I agree that "stupid" is a loaded word from a teacher. Does your son really grasp that it's the actions that the teacher was talking about?
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Shea on October 18, 2012, 08:44:29 AM
I'm neither a parent nor a teacher, so I may be completely off base here, but I feel like this perhaps isn't something you should address. If the teacher had called your son "stupid", then I'd say it definitely needs addressing, but I think that if you write to the teacher because you're unhappy with a word he used (which, while not the best word, isn't an offensive term) you'll come off as petty and helicoptery. I'm not saying you actually are a helicopter parent, because I completely understand why you're not pleased, but I just don't think this is a hill to die on.

Make sure your son knows that you don't think he's stupid, and let him know that even though what he did was thoughtless, he apologized and it's not the end of the world. As for the slapping, I did pretty much the same thing as a child when I felt I'd done something wrong. I grew out of it when, with age, I learned to control my emotions better, and I'm sure your son will too.

My only caveat would be that if the calling things "stupid" becomes a habit with this teacher, then maybe you could consider addressing it. It doesn't seem like this is the case though, so as unpleasant as it is, I'd leave it alone.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 08:54:40 AM
As a teacher I agree that it is a bad word to use. I ill say that it is more habitual rather than thought through - kind of like your son's slapping himself in his face.  Both are inappropriate and frustrating responses to the situation but I doubt either was thought through.

I might visit the coach and explain that son does it because he feels stupid, that you personally hate it and are trying to break him of it but that the last thing that will work is to try to make him feel stupid because his doing that is a signal he already feels that way.

Thanks Sharnita - I was hoping for a teacher's perspective.  :)  My guess is that the teacher's reaction was instinctive. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: MorgnsGrl on October 18, 2012, 08:55:10 AM
I'd be unhappy with that choice of words, too, and I think I would address it. You don't have to make a big deal about it, but I'd think you could email the gym teacher (or leave him a voice mail message) saying something like, "DS's tendency to exhibit the self-slapping behavior that you witnessed is triggered by him feeling stupid or like he did something wrong -- the best way to help extinguish the behavior is to help him believe that he is NOT stupid and to understand that everyone makes mistakes. We'd appreciate it if you could help with this by refraining from using words like stupid and ridiculous, since they make the situation worse instead of better. Thanks for your help!"
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Redsoil on October 18, 2012, 09:02:03 AM
I do tend to think it's a slippery slope.  How many times will you find it necessary in the coming years to speak with teachers about habits or words you feel may be less than desireable?    If you feel the need to correct every "difficult" situation, you may well lessen the impact of your requests, and your son will not learn how to manage in such circumstances.

I think it's desireable to talk it through with your son, so he understands the nuances (in time, and with coaching) of such words.  You could also discuss how he felt about the situation, and how best to handle such things in future.  Obviously, it can take time to change the habit of self-slapping, but if you help him substitute another behaviour, it may assist. 

I doubt it would be helpful to approach the teacher about this incident, and may make a bigger deal of it than needs be.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 09:02:29 AM
Have you gotten any professional help with the slapping habit? I had something very similar, and looking back I think it would have been better to be taught how to deal more productively with the stress of not being perfect, rather than simply be told "don't do those actions".

I agree that "stupid" is a loaded word from a teacher. Does your son really grasp that it's the actions that the teacher was talking about?

DS has seen a counselor a few times, although not specifically for the face-slapping.  What we're struggling with right now is that DS is in the gifted math program at school, and his teacher says that he's definitely exhibiting "gifted quirks".  Obviously that includes not wanting to make mistakes and getting pretty upset when he doesn't immediately grasp a new concept/idea. 

Your post is actually making me see the bigger picture here in terms of how my son reacts to things in general, so I've got some thinking to do now.  :)

DS does understand that the teacher wasn't calling him stupid, and he's not really devastated by the incident.  He gets over things pretty easily, thankfully.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: fountainsoflettuce on October 18, 2012, 09:09:09 AM
If your son isn't upset about it, I would forget it.  You don't want to complain and be "that" parent which might indirectly cause problems for you son. I think you should focus on his "quirks" and get appropriate counseling.  The sooner the better.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 09:09:38 AM
I'm definitely keeping the helicoptering aspect in mind here.  When DS was in 1st grade (he's now in 4th), he did not mesh well with his teacher at all, and it seemed that I was intervening almost daily (sometimes definitely necessary, but most of the time not).  I took a HUGE step back after that year from hell, and at this point I'm responding to most of DS's complaints about getting in trouble for something he may or may not have done with "life's not fair, dude".

I am at this point gearing towards letting it go, although obviously if I get a report of it happening again, I'll have to do something.

Part of the problem was that I wondered if this is normal language for the teacher or if he was just really frustrated and let it slip. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Outdoor Girl on October 18, 2012, 09:16:04 AM
Were I your son's teacher at the time he displayed the face slapping behaviour to me, I think I would have been very taken aback and not known quite what to do and the word 'stupid' might have passed my lips.  (I'm not a teacher.)

If you want to have a meeting with the teacher, I would do it more in terms of 'This is what DS does when he is reprimanded for something that he knows was a dumb thing to do.  So in the future, if something like this happens again, please just ask DS to stop doing it (or leave him be or whatever method you use to discourage the behaviour).  I'm not asking you to avoid reprimanding him; if he deserves it, he should get the reprimand!  But I do want to avoid having him feel worse than he already does.'  Or something.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Zilla on October 18, 2012, 09:16:14 AM
This is a matter for the principal to address. I would request a meeting or email them exactly what your son told you.  Does he have a friend in class that can verify the words used?  That would be best and ask them if it's alright to use their names.   And let the principal address it. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: SPuck on October 18, 2012, 09:23:50 AM
How hard does your son slap himself when he does that?
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Sharnita on October 18, 2012, 09:30:26 AM
Also from an education standpoint - gym class and gym teachers face different realities than other teachers. They frequently have larger classes and deal with activities and equiptment that have the potential for injury. Students, parents and even other educators sometimes treat them as if they are not a "real" teacher.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: SuperMartianRobotGirl on October 18, 2012, 09:56:51 AM
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Sharnita on October 18, 2012, 10:00:53 AM
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.

I think the fact that DS is not really upset over it makes a big difference too. Some kids might be so torn up they didn't want to go back to class. If that were the case a word with the teacher might be in order.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: BeagleMommy on October 18, 2012, 10:38:06 AM
I think I'd have to take a "wait and see" approach.  Since your DS wasn't upset it may have been a "one of" where the teacher was frustrated and let it slip.

If it happens again I would address it.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: SiotehCat on October 18, 2012, 10:44:31 AM
I would be more upset with DS for thinking that it was appropriate to swing anything around, especially a piece of gym equipment.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 10:48:20 AM
How hard does your son slap himself when he does that?

Oh, not hard at all.  He never hurts himself or anything. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 10:49:23 AM
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.

I think the fact that DS is not really upset over it makes a big difference too. Some kids might be so torn up they didn't want to go back to class. If that were the case a word with the teacher might be in order.

Good point. 

I'm wondering if I should ask DS if the teacher has used this kind of language before, but maybe that's just borrowing trouble?
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Moray on October 18, 2012, 11:03:20 AM
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.

I think the fact that DS is not really upset over it makes a big difference too. Some kids might be so torn up they didn't want to go back to class. If that were the case a word with the teacher might be in order.

Good point. 

I'm wondering if I should ask DS if the teacher has used this kind of language before, but maybe that's just borrowing trouble?

That's definitely borrowing trouble. I'd also like to point out that by age 9, most kids have a pretty clear idea what their parents' "triggers" are. Making the word the focal point with DS could backfire in the long run. It's also worth mentioning that many children have different behaviors at home and at school. If he's slapping himself over something this minor (a perfectly legitimate request not to swing stuff about), it's likely that he's slapping himself over other things, too, even if he isn't frequently displaying that behavior at home. If you wish to approach the school with this, I'd do it from a perspective of "How often is DS doing this, and can we develop different coping techniques/an action plan?" vs. "Teacher used the word 'stupid'"
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: JenJay on October 18, 2012, 11:39:16 AM
I have a child who used to do that. I finally got his frustration redirected by explaining that hitting anyone was not okay, including himself, and he would be disciplined the same way for slapping himself as he would for slapping anyone else. Then we talked about other ways to release that built up stress - screaming into a pillow, writing an angry note and tearing it up, etc.

I think I would write an email to the teacher and explain that DS does that because he feels stupid, that I completely understand that he was NOT calling DS stupid, that we've spoken to DS and he understands but that I wanted the teacher to know in case it happens again.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Roe on October 18, 2012, 11:42:06 AM
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.

I think the fact that DS is not really upset over it makes a big difference too. Some kids might be so torn up they didn't want to go back to class. If that were the case a word with the teacher might be in order.

Good point. 

I'm wondering if I should ask DS if the teacher has used this kind of language before, but maybe that's just borrowing trouble?

Your son might not be upset about it but I'd definitely address it with the coach.  Send him a quick email.  Something to let him know that it wasn't an appropriate word choice.  You don't even have to mention it to your son.  I think it's best to let it go as far as your son is concerned.

The reason I think emailing the coach is a good idea is because I wouldn't want it to happen again.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Zilla on October 18, 2012, 11:42:58 AM
It was a bad choice of words but not something I'd contact the school over if it were my kid.

I think the fact that DS is not really upset over it makes a big difference too. Some kids might be so torn up they didn't want to go back to class. If that were the case a word with the teacher might be in order.

Good point. 

I'm wondering if I should ask DS if the teacher has used this kind of language before, but maybe that's just borrowing trouble?

That's definitely borrowing trouble. I'd also like to point out that by age 9, most kids have a pretty clear idea what their parents' "triggers" are. Making the word the focal point with DS could backfire in the long run. It's also worth mentioning that many children have different behaviors at home and at school. If he's slapping himself over something this minor (a perfectly legitimate request not to swing stuff about), it's likely that he's slapping himself over other things, too, even if he isn't frequently displaying that behavior at home. If you wish to approach the school with this, I'd do it from a perspective of "How often is DS doing this, and can we develop different coping techniques/an action plan?" vs. "Teacher used the word 'stupid'"


This said perfectly what I was thinking.  By going to the principal you can solve 2 issues with 1 visit.  Is there a history of your son doing this that hasn't been mentioned outright to you as a parent and if in fact the gym teacher did use those words, he or she can be addressed by the principal not to use these words in front of the students.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: sourwolf on October 18, 2012, 12:40:27 PM
I would be more upset with DS for thinking that it was appropriate to swing anything around, especially a piece of gym equipment.

I agree.  That's very dangerous behavior and someone could end up getting hurt quite badly.

I'd have a talk with son about the importance of behaving appropriately in gym class and then (since he's not upset) let it go.

I do like Twik's suggestion of finding someone who can help him figure out less damaging ways of reacting to stress. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: JeanFromBNA on October 18, 2012, 01:07:41 PM
I wouldn't say anything.  Kid now has an outsider's perspective about his poor way of handling stress.  Let that do it's work without trying to make it better for him.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 01:13:21 PM
I'm not concerned with the idea that he's doing it a lot at school, although I may bring it up to his teacher just in case.  We just had parent/teacher conferences this week and spoke in-depth about how he deals with frustrations and neither teacher mentioned him hurting himself.

I'm kind of wondering if the gym teacher yelled at him instead of just talking to him.  That wouldn't bother me since the teacher was reacting to a potentially dangerous situation.  DS doesn't generally get that upset when he's disciplined in a calm way.

That being said, I really appreciate all the advice about the face-slapping (truly!), but I'd prefer to focus more on the gym teacher's language and how to politely discuss his choice of words if I decide to address it.   :)
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: sourwolf on October 18, 2012, 01:14:41 PM
I'm not concerned with the idea that he's doing it a lot at school, although I may bring it up to his teacher just in case.  We just had parent/teacher conferences this week and spoke in-depth about how he deals with frustrations and neither teacher mentioned him hurting himself.

I'm kind of wondering if the gym teacher yelled at him instead of just talking to him.  That wouldn't bother me since the teacher was reacting to a potentially dangerous situation.  DS doesn't generally get that upset when he's disciplined in a calm way.

That being said, I really appreciate all the advice about the face-slapping (truly!), but I'd prefer to focus more on the gym teacher's language and how to politely discuss his choice of words if I decide to address it.   :)

I think your son would have either mentioned it, or been much more upset if he had been getting yelled at as opposed to being spoken to about it.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Yvaine on October 18, 2012, 01:49:01 PM
That being said, I really appreciate all the advice about the face-slapping (truly!), but I'd prefer to focus more on the gym teacher's language and how to politely discuss his choice of words if I decide to address it.   :)

Well, it's tough to separate them out, because I think what the teacher was reacting to was the unwise horsing around with gym equipment. This piece of equipment may be light and plastic, but other items used in class won't be, and it's not a good idea for anyone to be in the habit of hitting themselves or other kids with gym equipment. It's just not safe. And while "stupid" isn't the kindest word to use, (a) it was applied to the act of hitting and not the child-as-a-person, which I do think makes a difference, and (b) I don't think it's offensive on the same level as, say, a swear word or a slur. My guess is that either she panicked and used an undiplomatic word impulsively, or that she was using a dramatic word to convey how important it is to not hit people with gym equipment.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Sharnita on October 18, 2012, 02:29:28 PM
That being said, I really appreciate all the advice about the face-slapping (truly!), but I'd prefer to focus more on the gym teacher's language and how to politely discuss his choice of words if I decide to address it.   :)

Well, it's tough to separate them out, because I think what the teacher was reacting to was the unwise horsing around with gym equipment. This piece of equipment may be light and plastic, but other items used in class won't be, and it's not a good idea for anyone to be in the habit of hitting themselves or other kids with gym equipment. It's just not safe. And while "stupid" isn't the kindest word to use, (a) it was applied to the act of hitting and not the child-as-a-person, which I do think makes a difference, and (b) I don't think it's offensive on the same level as, say, a swear word or a slur. My guess is that either she panicked and used an undiplomatic word impulsively, or that she was using a dramatic word to convey how important it is to not hit people with gym equipment.

I think there is some confusion about the chain of events.  Don't know if it is mine or not.  My understanding is that:

1) Son messes with equipment
2) Son is reprimanded for that
3) Son reacts to that reprimand by slapping himself in the face (behavior some people want to evaluate and OP would rather not discuss any more)
4) Teacher responds to the face slapping by calling the behavior stupid
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Yvaine on October 18, 2012, 02:36:11 PM
That being said, I really appreciate all the advice about the face-slapping (truly!), but I'd prefer to focus more on the gym teacher's language and how to politely discuss his choice of words if I decide to address it.   :)

Well, it's tough to separate them out, because I think what the teacher was reacting to was the unwise horsing around with gym equipment. This piece of equipment may be light and plastic, but other items used in class won't be, and it's not a good idea for anyone to be in the habit of hitting themselves or other kids with gym equipment. It's just not safe. And while "stupid" isn't the kindest word to use, (a) it was applied to the act of hitting and not the child-as-a-person, which I do think makes a difference, and (b) I don't think it's offensive on the same level as, say, a swear word or a slur. My guess is that either she panicked and used an undiplomatic word impulsively, or that she was using a dramatic word to convey how important it is to not hit people with gym equipment.

I think there is some confusion about the chain of events.  Don't know if it is mine or not.  My understanding is that:

1) Son messes with equipment
2) Son is reprimanded for that
3) Son reacts to that reprimand by slapping himself in the face (behavior some people want to evaluate and OP would rather not discuss any more)
4) Teacher responds to the face slapping by calling the behavior stupid

I do think that's the order, but I was thinking the "stupid" applied to the whole sequence of hitting.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: JeanFromBNA on October 18, 2012, 02:55:43 PM
I think you're being overprotective.  Kid won't be permanently damaged by hearing his behavior called "stupid," which it was (both misusing the gym equipment and the other thing).  If calling the kids stupid becomes a pattern, then say something. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 18, 2012, 02:58:32 PM
That being said, I really appreciate all the advice about the face-slapping (truly!), but I'd prefer to focus more on the gym teacher's language and how to politely discuss his choice of words if I decide to address it.   :)

Well, it's tough to separate them out, because I think what the teacher was reacting to was the unwise horsing around with gym equipment. This piece of equipment may be light and plastic, but other items used in class won't be, and it's not a good idea for anyone to be in the habit of hitting themselves or other kids with gym equipment. It's just not safe. And while "stupid" isn't the kindest word to use, (a) it was applied to the act of hitting and not the child-as-a-person, which I do think makes a difference, and (b) I don't think it's offensive on the same level as, say, a swear word or a slur. My guess is that either she panicked and used an undiplomatic word impulsively, or that she was using a dramatic word to convey how important it is to not hit people with gym equipment.

I think there is some confusion about the chain of events.  Don't know if it is mine or not.  My understanding is that:

1) Son messes with equipment
2) Son is reprimanded for that
3) Son reacts to that reprimand by slapping himself in the face (behavior some people want to evaluate and OP would rather not discuss any more)
4) Teacher responds to the face slapping by calling the behavior stupid

I do think that's the order, but I was thinking the "stupid" applied to the whole sequence of hitting.

Right.  DS said that the stupid comment was for both the hitting the kid and himself. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: sweetonsno on October 18, 2012, 03:02:42 PM
Hi all,

I'm trying to decide what to do (if anything) about an episode that occurred in my DS's (he is 9) gym class yesterday.  He got in trouble because he was walking around swinging a piece of gym equipment around (light and plastic) and accidentally hit another kid in the hand.  Kid was totally fine, and DS apologized, but when the gym teacher addressed the issue, DS started slapping himself in the face.  He does this when he feels really stupid, and I really hate it.  It doesn't happen often anymore though, so I was a little surprised that he did this.

DS told me that the teacher told him that what he was doing was "ridiculous" and "stupid".  I made sure to clarify that the teacher called the action stupid, not DS. 

So, DS ended up being written up and has to sit out at the next gym class. 

DH and I agree that the teacher shouldn't have used the word "stupid", but DH is perfectly fine with letting it go.  I'm having a harder time being ok with this, but I also don't want to make a huge deal about it.  If I do decide to address it, does anyone have any suggestions on how to politely ask the gym teacher to drop the word "stupid" from his vocabulary when addressing his students?

I can see why you are unhappy with his phrasing, but if DS isn't upset by it, then I wouldn't bring it up. If it becomes a habit and DS starts telling you that the gym teacher actually calls him (or other students) stupid, I do think it you can mention it to the gym teacher. However, for a one-off, I vote for chalking it up to stress.

The thing is, when dealing with behavior that is inappropriate, it's very difficult to address it without using a word that could be hurtful, even if you specifically address the behavior or the choice. For sensitive kids, the negative descriptors will stand out rather than the message (don't do whatever action prompted this).
"That was a bad decision."
"You are behaving immaturely."
"Don't like the garbage can, it's gross."
"It is unacceptable to come in to class ten minutes late."

They'll hear bad, immature, gross, and unacceptable.

If something like this happens again, then I think you should focus on the solution rather than the problem. You and the gym teacher presumably have a common goal: you want DS to behave well in class and to handle the stress of making a mistake without smacking himself. If you notice DS hitting himself more, other teachers bring it up, or he does it again in gym class, then shoot the teacher an email. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Start by summarizing the action that prompted you contacting him, then explain what caused it, then offer a solution that works for you. For instance:

Dear GymTeacher,

I've noticed that DS has been hitting himself at home lately. I know he's done it in your class before as well. It's his way of dealing with frustration with himself when he makes a mistake. We're working on it at home, so please do let me know if he starts doing it in class again. I know it must be frustrating/stressful to see that happen in class and I imagine it must be disruptive. We find that it's helpful to remind him that everyone makes mistakes/he's already being punished by us and doesn't need to punish himself/ignore it unless it goes on for more than a few seconds/gently tell him to stop/whatever does work. Maybe the same technique will work for you.

Best,
Ettiquit
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: doodlemor on October 18, 2012, 03:27:50 PM
 I taught for 30 years, and have two grown children.  I would let the comment go.  If DS starts telling you that the teacher is calling him or other children *stupid* on a regular basis it might be time to act.  Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it.

Even the most patient and dedicated teachers have bad days, and things slip out.  I suspect that the teacher felt badly once the word was out of his mouth, and I bet that it won't be repeated.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Viscountess on October 18, 2012, 03:44:00 PM
Since it was the first time it happened and more importantly, your DS is not upset by it I wouldn't contact the school about it.  However, if it occurs again then I'd address it. 
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ncmom22 on October 18, 2012, 03:58:21 PM
I have two sons and could be in your very shoes.  If your son and your husband wants to let it go and it's not a common behavior for him, I would let it go.  But definitely don't ever forget.  I would keep a close eye on it and ask him more details on his school day.  Good luck with your son, 9 years old is a hard age to be.  Not quite a kid but not quite an older kid either.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: bonyk on October 18, 2012, 04:37:58 PM
Another teacher here.  If I was the teacher in this situation, I'd prefer that you request a meeting with me in person before going to the principal.  If this happened in my district, and a parent complained to the principal first, it'd be an automatic verbal abuse investigation.

If you choose to let it go, I'd just jot down a few notes about what happened in case more happens in the future.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Mental Magpie on October 19, 2012, 02:34:08 AM
I would be more upset with DS for thinking that it was appropriate to swing anything around, especially a piece of gym equipment.

I agree.  That's very dangerous behavior and someone could end up getting hurt quite badly.

I'd have a talk with son about the importance of behaving appropriately in gym class and then (since he's not upset) let it go.

I do like Twik's suggestion of finding someone who can help him figure out less damaging ways of reacting to stress.

I have a feeling the OP is concerned about her child swinging something but knows how to address that and thus isn't seeking advice about that particular matter.  What she doesn't know how to address is the gym teacher using the word stupid and that is why she has come here.  I guess what I'm saying is that on a list of:

1) DS don't swing things in class
2) DS don't hit yourself when you're upset
3) Gym teacher said something I don't like

OP has or knows how to address 1 and 2, so she's moved onto 3, if that makes sense.

That being said, OP, I think addressing 1 and 2 with the gym teacher may help, but only if this becomes a repeat behavior.  If this keeps happening, I would talk to the gym teacher about a solution, not about the problems.  If it doesn't keep happening, I would let this instance go; it seems like an overreaction to a one off.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: kherbert05 on October 19, 2012, 05:10:31 AM
Have you gotten any professional help with the slapping habit? I had something very similar, and looking back I think it would have been better to be taught how to deal more productively with the stress of not being perfect, rather than simply be told "don't do those actions".

I agree that "stupid" is a loaded word from a teacher. Does your son really grasp that it's the actions that the teacher was talking about?

DS has seen a counselor a few times, although not specifically for the face-slapping.  What we're struggling with right now is that DS is in the gifted math program at school, and his teacher says that he's definitely exhibiting "gifted quirks".  Obviously that includes not wanting to make mistakes and getting pretty upset when he doesn't immediately grasp a new concept/idea. 

Your post is actually making me see the bigger picture here in terms of how my son reacts to things in general, so I've got some thinking to do now.  :)

DS does understand that the teacher wasn't calling him stupid, and he's not really devastated by the incident.  He gets over things pretty easily, thankfully.


Your son is at an age that many gifted kids start having this type of problem. Until now they just knew the answer to many math problem because of a very strong math sense. They don't know how they know the answer. Now math is getting more complicated and they can't see the answer.


Last year I had a 2nd grader that I was seriously concerned about self harming. She wouldn't just slap herself, she pulled out hairs, tried to pull out chunks of hairs, would scratch herself, claw her arm.


I tried to encourage her Mom to get her to see someone. We are limited in what we can say because the school can be force to pay for services.


I came across this article over winter break. [size=78%]http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/12/my-new-year-wish.html (http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/12/my-new-year-wish.html)[/size] It helped not just her, but other kids in the class who were obsessed with the right answers over learning. I'm using with this years class. Basic theme - making mistakes is how we learn. We celebrate making a mistake and figuring out how to fix it.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: SiotehCat on October 19, 2012, 06:37:04 AM
I would be more upset with DS for thinking that it was appropriate to swing anything around, especially a piece of gym equipment.

I agree.  That's very dangerous behavior and someone could end up getting hurt quite badly.

I'd have a talk with son about the importance of behaving appropriately in gym class and then (since he's not upset) let it go.

I do like Twik's suggestion of finding someone who can help him figure out less damaging ways of reacting to stress.

I have a feeling the OP is concerned about her child swinging something but knows how to address that and thus isn't seeking advice about that particular matter.  What she doesn't know how to address is the gym teacher using the word stupid and that is why she has come here.  I guess what I'm saying is that on a list of:

1) DS don't swing things in class
2) DS don't hit yourself when you're upset
3) Gym teacher said something I don't like

OP has or knows how to address 1 and 2, so she's moved onto 3, if that makes sense.

That being said, OP, I think addressing 1 and 2 with the gym teacher may help, but only if this becomes a repeat behavior.  If this keeps happening, I would talk to the gym teacher about a solution, not about the problems.  If it doesn't keep happening, I would let this instance go; it seems like an overreaction to a one off.

But 3 happened because of 1 and 2. Without 1 and 2, there would be no 3. That seems like a good way to stop it from happening again.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: MorgnsGrl on October 19, 2012, 06:54:52 AM
I would be more upset with DS for thinking that it was appropriate to swing anything around, especially a piece of gym equipment.

I agree.  That's very dangerous behavior and someone could end up getting hurt quite badly.

I'd have a talk with son about the importance of behaving appropriately in gym class and then (since he's not upset) let it go.

I do like Twik's suggestion of finding someone who can help him figure out less damaging ways of reacting to stress.

I have a feeling the OP is concerned about her child swinging something but knows how to address that and thus isn't seeking advice about that particular matter.  What she doesn't know how to address is the gym teacher using the word stupid and that is why she has come here.  I guess what I'm saying is that on a list of:

1) DS don't swing things in class
2) DS don't hit yourself when you're upset
3) Gym teacher said something I don't like

OP has or knows how to address 1 and 2, so she's moved onto 3, if that makes sense.

That being said, OP, I think addressing 1 and 2 with the gym teacher may help, but only if this becomes a repeat behavior.  If this keeps happening, I would talk to the gym teacher about a solution, not about the problems.  If it doesn't keep happening, I would let this instance go; it seems like an overreaction to a one off.

But 3 happened because of 1 and 2. Without 1 and 2, there would be no 3. That seems like a good way to stop it from happening again.

But 1 will probably happen again -- not swinging things specifically, but doing something thoughtless, because kids are like that. When a child has a particular challenge that's somewhat atypical (the OP's DS self-harming to express frustration) it's beneficial for adults who interact with that child to get some feedback about what is helpful vs. harmful when dealing with that child.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: secretrebel on October 19, 2012, 07:57:18 AM
DS told me that the teacher told him that what he was doing was "ridiculous" and "stupid".  I made sure to clarify that the teacher called the action stupid, not DS. 

...If I do decide to address it, does anyone have any suggestions on how to politely ask the gym teacher to drop the word "stupid" from his vocabulary when addressing his students?

I think you have to consider situation and intent.

The gym teacher didn't tell your child he was stupid for horseplay or even for the self abuse. He said that the self abuse was "ridiculous and stupid". Now I agree that better words would have been "inappropriate" or "dangerous". But it's clear that the intent is to inform you son that the self abuse is not a healthy or sensible response to being rebuked. And the teacher is right.

So I would let it go. While language is important you have correctly identified that there's an important distinction between criticism of a person and an act.

Any teacher might say "running with scissors is stupid because it could so easily cause an accident" and I think that's the kind of situation you have here. Your son is not stupid, but in this particular behaviour he is not behaving sensibly either. So don't get too hung up on vocabulary which isn't ideal but also isn't wrong.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: grannyclampettjr on October 19, 2012, 09:55:22 AM
Not a teacher, but come from a family of teachers. 

Gym teachers are a different breed.   Part of their job *is* to try to toughen you up.  Your son will eventually have a boss, correct?  And said bosses will not coddle "quirks".   They will say mean things.  And you have to take it in order to keep your job.  So this is a prime opportunity to help your son develop a thicker skin.   

Also please keep in mind that *all* kids are mainstreamed now in many districts, causing a huge amount of distress and disruption to the teacher and classes in general. My sister is on an extended leave from teaching because she was given a 4/5 split with Learning Disabled, ESL, and children with behavioral problems.  Catering to the special needs kids and monitoring her parapros meant that nothing got done for the majority of the class (35 kids iirc).   And please keep in mind that  what your son was doing is alarming and disturbing to not only the teacher but the other kids.   What would you have thought if you saw a kid hitting himself at that age? 

Finally, as a former gifted kid (and my mom created the gifted program in her school district),  this is beyond a gifted quirk.  I have never heard of or seen this.   The majority of gifted kids range from perfectly normal to more mature than their peers.  I am in contact with many of my friends from those years and we are all responsible and levelheaded.  There were only a couple of disturbed kids that I remember...one was a kid that I keep execting to show up on a s@x offender registry.  So for the love of Pete, please don't cast this as a gifted thing.  And please let the principal know that the teacher is painting this as a gifted thing.   Gifted kids don't need any more stereotypes piled upon them.   
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: ettiquit on October 19, 2012, 10:33:53 AM
I'm going to let it go this time.  Thanks to all for their perspectives, and to sweetonsno for the ideas on the wording if I ever need to address this.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: TurtleDove on October 19, 2012, 10:48:57 AM
Finally, as a former gifted kid (and my mom created the gifted program in her school district),  this is beyond a gifted quirk.  I have never heard of or seen this.   The majority of gifted kids range from perfectly normal to more mature than their peers.  I am in contact with many of my friends from those years and we are all responsible and levelheaded.  There were only a couple of disturbed kids that I remember...one was a kid that I keep execting to show up on a s@x offender registry.  So for the love of Pete, please don't cast this as a gifted thing.  And please let the principal know that the teacher is painting this as a gifted thing.   Gifted kids don't need any more stereotypes piled upon them.   

POD.  I am glad you have decided how to handle this, OP.  I hope your son is able to stop the slapping.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Twik on October 19, 2012, 10:56:43 AM
I really, REALLY do not thing that the OP's son be described as "disturbed". He's got a perfectionist attitude, and is at a stage of maturity that he shows his distress with himself by a physical tick. That's something that might be helped by a behavioural therapist, but only in the sense that it would help him with the basic problem, which is his distress at making mistakes. It's a far cry from calling him "disturbed". It is indeed just a "quirk" for a kid who's taking things very seriously (fairly common in kids who are "mature beyond their years").

If you have never seen or heard of it? That's random happenstance.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: Moray on October 19, 2012, 11:28:29 AM
Having attended specific "magnet" schools for G&T students for the entirety of my academic career, I'd like to think I'd have encountered at least one person who does this if it's really that common, especially among "mature beyond their years" children.

I don't believe that "disturbed" is the right word, but it does speak to poor communication and coping skills. That's not a personal failing by any means, but it does need to be addressed. This kind of behavior is much more common in toddlers or other not-quite-verbal children. It's not socially appropriate for an older child, and I hope the OP's son learns some more productive ways to deal with his frustrations with himself and the world around him. Childhood is tough enough already without (literally) beating yourself up.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: TurtleDove on October 19, 2012, 11:43:20 AM
I really, REALLY do not thing that the OP's son be described as "disturbed".

I think the behavior is disturbing, both for DS and for those who witness the behavior. Sort of like the difference between calling DS stupid and saying that his behavior is stupid.
Title: Re: Unhappy with gym teacher's choice of words
Post by: hyzenthlay on October 19, 2012, 10:28:22 PM
Having attended specific "magnet" schools for G&T students for the entirety of my academic career, I'd like to think I'd have encountered at least one person who does this if it's really that common, especially among "mature beyond their years" children.

My youngest did when he was the age of the OP's son.  I'm not sure he ever did it at school, but at home it happened on occasion.

Both my kids are gifted, and I've been told by various teachers through the years that perfectionist streaks that the kids need to learn to manage are not unusual. The gifted kids I know may seem 'mature' in terms of conversational skills and breadth of knowledge, but I've rarely met ones that seemed particularly emotionally advanced.