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Should I stay or should I go?

One of the most common questions I get in the gym is ‘should I stay to watch my kids.’


My view has definitely ‘softened’ as I’ve got older, and through becoming a parent myself. 


I used to be pretty adamant on parents not being there for the majority of the class, a view which I still take in most situations, but there are definite benefits to both sides which I thought it would be helpful to express.


There are three parties to consider in this situation, by far the most important is the child, then there is the parent themselves and also the coach/teacher.


Having been in all three positions at some point in my life, I thought it best to cover it from each perspective.

 

THE CHILD

As a kid I was was always self-conscious when my parents were at my activities. I felt I could be myself more when they weren’t there.


I would say for most kids though, it makes absolutely no difference whether their parent is there or not, they keep the same energy either way.


For some young or shy kids, having their parent there is the only way they’ll participate in a new activity, so obviously being there is vital.


Even though he’s only 2 ½, I can see Teddy being like this, he’s super shy in new situations with other adults, if kids are there he’s fine, but put an adult in the room and he shells up!


If your child is comfortable with you not being there, leaving them to it can be really helpful for their experience. 


I quite often see kids more open to try things when their parent isn’t in the room, they tend to have greater trust in the coach and take instruction better.

 

THE PARENT

I took 2 weeks off after Teddy was born, and I realised on my first day back at work how relaxing it was compared with home life, a little holiday if you will.


Now I understand why parents sign their kids up to activities beyond helping their development!


I was always confused when I saw parents videoing every little thing their child did. 

Now I have 1000 videos of Teddy on my phone, and that’s just the ones riding his bike.


I thought I had good trust in others before Teddy came along.


Now my stomach flutters every time I leave him with someone else.


There’s nothing more rewarding than being there watching Teddy grow, and there’s been nothing in my life that has been more exhausting.

 

THE COACH

I’ll be honest. It’s ALWAYS easier running classes without parents in the room.


I don’t suffer from this now, but when I was younger I felt super awkward with parents there, like you were being watched and judged with every word.


From a coaches point of view, getting kids to work as a group is a lot easier when they don’t have the comfort of their mum or dad present.


In most cases, we build a better relationship with the kids as they’ll come to us with any issues they have, which means we have better visibility.


If they bump their knee, they see that we’ll care for them, if another kid says something mean, they’ll (most of the time) tell us so we can help resolve the problem.


If mum or dad are there, those issues will go to them, and if it’s not passed on to us then we have a blind spot that might occur again.

 

In summary, If you need to be there at the start for them, or to build trust with us, cool, but check in with them as they become more comfortable.


If they’ll stay without you, let them have their space. But pop in, watch and take some videos every now and then.


Timon

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