For Parents 4.5 year old trouble?

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Our dd has been in gymnastics since she was two. Lately going to the gym is either great or not, there is no in between. She was in a advanced preschool class but they are moving her up to a 5 year old intermediate next week. Here is the problem we are having. She can't stay focused, she loves to watch all the other kids! Her coach has to repeat herself all the time, and when she talks to her my dd is constantly moving! Also when it's her turn to do something she will either do it or sometimes just say I'm too tired! I see her do these skills at home all the time, but at the gym she acts like she has no clue what's going on. She is the youngest in the class and you can tell all the other kids are five going on six. I'll give you an example, the other day she was in class and her coach asked her to do back bend kick-overs, something she has been doing for about 6 months, and she replied her belly hurt, then she only wanted to jump on the tramp. I saw her coach trying to get her to do what she needed to do, and finally she told her to get off the floor if she wanted to waste her time. I totally agreed with this. I ask her if she wants to stop taking gymnastics and she cries and begs to let her keep doing it. Is this just an age thing? I don't want her to be the kid that the others are warned to stay away from. I'm just very frustrated and don't know what more to say to her? Has this happened to anyone else or can anyone give me some pointer on how to deal with it when it happens. I fell bad for the coach and embarrassed for me! :eek:
Feb 26, 2007
Sounds like a typical 4.5 year old to me!:) Having worked around kids a lot, nanny and coach, I know that it is a tough age. Some kids that age can focus a lot, but mostly that age is ego based; as in... "if I want to do it I'll do it, if not I'll think of an excuse why I can't".

She is the youngest, so try not to compare her, developmentally there is a huge difference between 4.5 and 5 going on 6. Apples and oranges you know.

I would watch less first of all, even if you want/need to be there, sit away from her and don't watch, that way you won't have to be embarrassed as you won't know what is going on in the gym. Too much info is a bad thing!;)

It is the coaches problem, they have promoted her as they think she is ready, so let it be. If the coach isn't happy with her progress/attention/focus they will approach you to talk about it. But, that doesn't seem to be the case, does it?:cool:
Jul 29, 2007
I am going thru almost the same thing. My dd just turned 4 and was invited to begin level 2 on the team. She has worked with the level 2's for a few weeks now. Yesterday she started working with the level 1's. I asked the coach after practice if dd was going to be a level 1. She said, "For now." She went on to say that her listening skills needed to improve and she needs to become more focused, which I totally agree with (that is my daily dealings with dd). She said that she has all the skills she needs for level 2 and that she may move her back up sometime soon depending on whether or not she becomes more focused and a better listener. She likes to be involved in everything and doesn't like having to wait her turn. On floor and beam, she does pretty well b/c she stays active. On bars it is difficult b/c she has to stand in line and wait. She wanders around and misses her turn on bars, I guess b/c she is bored. I have another dd who is very dedicated to her gymnastics and loves team and works so hard. Somedays the younger dd says she wants to quit team and other days she says she loves it. When I told her they had moved her back down to level 1, she cried and said, "I want to be on team." I, of course, explained that she was still on team, but b/c she doesn't listen well and doesn't stay in line and do what she is supposed to, they moved her down.
I think at the age of 4, kids change their minds quite often (ie. I love it, I hate it). I am going to have my dd stick it out for a few more months to see how she does. Good luck with your situation.
Jan 22, 2008
My DD just turned 5 last month. I am VERY strict with her at the gym and her coach and I work as a team to keep her where she needs to be. Meaning if she is not working or focused or is she is upset she is sent out. I have told her that she will not waste her time, her coaches time or my time with not paying attention and putting forth 100% all the time. We have NEVER had to be sent out but I have seen others sent out for not staying focused. I have told DD if she is ever sent out she will leave the gym right then and have only one other chance to proove that she wants to be there. DD was the youngest on PRE-Team this year she was 4 all season training Level 3.

I have seen her try to get out of doing things and the rule is if you don't want to do it then you have to go and sit out in the waiting area. That has never had to happen. I have seen DD do things more half way than not doing it at all.

If it were me I would lay down the law so to speak and tell her she needs to proove to me that she wants to be there. That her attitude and performance is not doing just that. I know for a fact our coach asked all our girls who wanted to be there because some actions were speaking louder than words. DD tells me that one girl actually raised her hand that she didn't want to be there. :eek: DD was like this :eek::eek::eek::eek: The coach had a conversation with the parent after practice.

I will admit that DD has had her hot and cold moments and it goes in shifts. I take those moments with a grain of salt. You have to remember their age and be supportive but like I said I have really laid down the law since DD was pretty much two years old. If she didn't have focus she would not be doing it. I know that sounds bad for that age but I don't like DD to waste anyones time. That is just me. Good luck and I hope things work out.


Proud Parent
Mar 7, 2008
Region 7
We went thru a similar period with DD#2. She was and still is the youngest (now 7 yr old level 5) but at 4 turning 5, she was on the pre-team ... She always was extremely focused, but if she was asked to do something that either she didn't want to do or was afraid to try, she would say "but I'm just a little girl". The coaches never let her get away with that. Even now, she tries to pull that once in a while but the coaches say it doesn't matter how young or small you are, you CAN and will try!
May 26, 2008
She's just a kid and gymnastics is supposed to be fun. I'm not saying she shouldn't have to follow directions, but I don't think any kid her age should have a coach say "She's wasting my time." It's not like she's training for the Olympics.
Jul 12, 2007
Hi dynamicMom - welocme to the CB:)

How long is the class she is currently taking? How long will the new class be?


My DD is the same age. There is a girl in her class like that :) and it drives me crazy!!! I would be honored that they have asked your daughter to be in the higher level class. However maybe she needs to go back to the younger class. Where the kids arent as focused.

As well once she is consitently behaving it could be her reward to move back up. It really can take away from the other kids if a kid is acting like this or a coach is constantly reminding a student to pay attention.

Good luck!


For us dd1 is the gymmie - but initially I thought if anything it would be dd2 - she was more natural and extremely flexible. The problem was - she loved learning to do things and flip around but she HATED the structure. She is a very creative child and her temperament just wasn't suited for competitive gymnastics. She's been asked to be on team and every time has turned it down. When she was that age I swore she was going to go into kindergarten and when they asked her name she would say Rachel Rachel Rachel - since we always had to say it at least three times to get her to listen. When she took gymnastics at that age - well lets just say focused is not the word I would use to describe her (even to this day). The good thing is she got a lot of basic strength, flexibility and coordination from doing classes which she has brought to all the other sports she has done. Now that she has found something she truly loves to do - she is able to stay more focused and she is really good and has fun. I would ask yourself what you are expecting and wanting for her since at her age she really isn't able to verbalize what she wants or would be best. Good luck.


Proud Parent
Proud Parent
Sep 25, 2007
I think she is just being a 4.5 year old. Even my almost 6 year old has the same issues sometimes. She has a hard time sitting still and waiting for her turn almost always leads to her ending up staring at the optional girls and watching in awe. She moved to level 4 team 2 months ago and it is getting better, but her coaches seem to realize it is very normal at their age. I have never been talked to about it.

I don't think it should be ignored (and if it is every single class, then maybe she needs to be in a regular rec class as to not disturb the other kids who are more focused, etc), but I don't think gymnastics should be strict at that age. It should be about having fun.


Proud Parent
Mar 1, 2007
Sounds like a normal 4.5 yr old to me!! I was just talking with one of my DD's coaches last night about how far she's come since last year. She had an episode where she got mad about something silly like taking turns or cutting the line and she cried and curled up into a little ball on the floor. Coaches left her alone for a little bit and then picked her up in a ball and made her laugh. The "epsiode" was over and they went on to the next thing. My dd was 6 and now at 7 she complains about how when the pre-team works out with them they cry or get moody and I remind her about how she did the same thing last year!

If your DD is making time changes (increased hrs) or coach changes or class changes, it may be that she needs some transition time and most coaches that teach the little ones know how to handle them. Last yr the little ones in my DD's group (aged 6-9) had a chart for behavior and skills and it worked really well. Even cut down on the silly fighting my DD had w/her little cousin at practices. I am not sure I liked the way your coach addressed the problem. I don't think that any kids at that age understand what "waste of time is" and it's hard for any of them to stay focused. I wouldn't worry about it too much. let her try the new class, maybe the lack of focus is becasue she wants to try something new? I nearly ended my DD's gymnastics because she was acting up in pre-team (age 5). After she was moved to team she loved it and loved learning new skills and working w/older girls. Good Luck!


My dd1 turned 5 a month and half ago and for the past 4 months things are much better. Last September though she was going through something very similar to your dd. She was for the first time telling me she did not want to go to gym. Mind you in the summer she couldn't get enough gym time. I dragged her to every class. After a few weeks I felt guilty and thought this was not what I wanted for dd. I talked to her coach and they thought she might just be bored with all the repetition in her current class. They moved her to the Level 2 team and she was much happier. But again after a few weeks started up again. I finally dedcided to try finding a different gym that can accommdate her better or quit for a while. ( I was definetly not going to drag her to class every week) We tried another gym that was more serious and more competitive. (dd loves to be challenged and shines under pressure- wierd but true!) During her 30 min evalution she did more skills and was pushed harder than any other day at her old gym. She came out of their gleaming with happiness!! Since there was still a week left of class at old gym I wanted her to finish it. She did not! She wanted only her new gym which by the way was hotter, dustier, and not as big. When asked why she loves the new gym better than old she said in her words: "because they train me better"

Really the real reason is that although it is more serious (no games) they allow moments in training for dd to act her age. If she is suppose to be waiting for her turn on bars and instead is up against the wall holding handstands or cartwheeling or playing hand clapping games they allow it for the most part. While on bars they are strict about being focused on the task at hand. In my opinion it is a good balance that works with dd1

I think your dd is just going through one of those phases. She may also be a little bored in her current class. If she's been doing kickover for a while now she may be ready for the next big skill. I know my dd is all about the next big skill. Once its master she estatic for about half a minute before asking for the next skill. DD just acquired her ROBHS (last week) and last night one the way home was inquiring whether in summer camp they will teach her front or back tucks. Her headcoach has warned me about children like that and said they are hard to coach because they are usually not interested in perfecting or cleaning up routines. I don't know if that will be the case with dd - I guess more will be revealed. I hope some of this has helped you and good luckto you and your dd.
Thanks for the reply, funny thing today was dd's last day with the old coach and she worked on back walkovers and got them all by herself. She had a great practice, beam is not her favorite and she was even excited when the coach wanted to work on cartwheels on it! It just goes so hot and cold for her, however I know what you mean about your dd shining under pressure. At her gyms exhibition last month she came in first place on her floor routine, we were pleasantly surprised. She does not like to do things neat just big! I really do think that I just need to let her be 4 there is such a maturity difference between 4,5,6. Her coaches think it's fine, and she needs to be challenged. They say she is a great athlete and learn fast! I just need to remember that every child has been 4 and this will pass......sooner than later I hope!:eek:


That's exactly what I meant. The moment they start teaching our gymmies something new eg. cartwheels on beam, back walkovers they are excited little gymnasts. My dd is not very fond on the beam either, although she loves handstands, cartwheels, forwards rolls etc. she does not care for leaps, jumps, and is just now starting to get turns...

I always laugh because she'll do a cartwheel on beam no problem but a silly half turn and forget it she's frustrated.

And there is a huge difference in even just a few months. I know its true for my dd. How she thinks today and what she understands as far as whats expected in gym has changed so much in just the last 3 to 4 months. Imagine in 6 months!! Our girls are still so young they are developing faster than a 6 year old. All the skills dd can do and your too and they're cordination and balance still needs to be developed. They are still things such as jump rope dd can't do. and it's mostly because she doens't have that cordination yet. Our dd seem to be very similar in that respect.

Well keep us posted I love to see videos of your dd to share with Olivia and follow her progress. Good luck:D
Just wanted to let you know, my husband and I were watching some of Olivia videos the other day, she is amazing! She has some upper body strength, and she really seems to love what she is doing. I have not gotten video of Madalynn yet but swear one of these days it will happen! Thanks for the words of encouragement.


I agree that level 1 may be a good place for her. I think the coaches should have reasonable expectations, in terms of attentiveness, for a child this age. Yet if she is less attentive than the others and distracting the group and the coach, the only fair thing to do is have her sit out until she is ready to focus. If she is motivated by being a level 2, it is a nice lesson for her that there is a payoff for hard work and dedication. I think I'd let it ride for a while and reevaluate in a month or so. If she doesn't come around, she may just be bored by gymnastics. You could see how she does at another activity for comparison. My gymmie dropped out of dance (2 years), soccer, etc. til she found gymnastics, which captured her attention (thank heavens!).
she may just be bored by gymnastics. You could see how she does at another activity for comparison. My gymmie dropped out of dance (2 years), soccer, etc. til she found gymnastics, which captured her attention (thank heavens!).

After watching this week and seeing her with her new coaches, I think her problem is she likes to be pushed, I noticed this week she was working on skills like her back handsprings and cartwheels on the beam and it excites her because it's new. The coach really thinks her problem is the lack of stimulation in the lower level classes. She also plays softball and loves it, but loves going to the gym. Again, I just need to remember that she is four working with six year olds, and sometimes they have hard days:)! I'm just thankful for all the patience her coach shows not only her but all the young ones. We are very lucky to have them at the gym!
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