Mike Gilham, FA Skills Coach, writes about the importance of trying to understand potential root causes of children’s behaviour and responding accordingly.
My role as an FA Skills Coach means that I work with 5-11 year old children day in, day out. What I find interesting is that when I discuss my work with my friends, I always get a similar response – ‘not for me’ or ‘sounds like hard work’.
Of course there is a stereotype that working with 5-11 year old children equals hard work because the kids are ‘naughty’ or ‘a pain’. But, children are just children, after all.
However, we’ve all been there when we’ve planned a great session only for it to be ‘ruined’ by the children ‘messing about’. So, what can we do about it?
Sometimes a little conversation might tell you all you need to know. The child might have had a bad day, or their parents might be arguing. They might be being bullied or, even worse, they could be grieving the loss of a family member or pet. If this is the case, perhaps we need to be sensitive and have the needs of the child at the forefront of our minds.
Prevention is better than cure
This common phrase is particularly apt when managing behaviour. Ask yourself the question: ‘Are the children misbehaving because they are bored?’
If you’re honest with yourself, and the answer is ‘yes’ then it is important to ensure you are creating a challenging, positive learning environment in which the children can thrive.
Do you set boundaries for the children? Do they know the rules?
Personally, I use three main rules – respect, safety, and learning.
You can use these or come up with your own, but let the players know these are the rules we have at football.
Children are used to rules because they have them at school and at home, so they will be used to the process. They need clear communication on what is expected of them when they are in your care. Without this we have no foundation to base discipline upon.
However, even if we’ve understood the child and have tried all the prevention strategies we can think of, there will still be times when we need to manage behaviour and intervene.