Parents Any Advice???

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Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
I just don't know whats going on with my kid. A month ago everything was fine, she loved gym had a great level 7 season has half her level 8 skills really just in a good place. Then what seems to happen every year happened again, all of a sudden shes really upset, doesn't want to go but doesn't know WHY she doesn't want to go. Has one small thing shes a little afraid of but not a big fear, and some wrist pain but not a major injury or anything. We have talked to her coaches to address these issues and have a plan for them. It just seems to come out of the blue to me. I have reasoned with her, asked her if she wants to quit told her if she wants to quit its fine. Can't get an answer out of her either way about quitting, or continuing, or whats wrong, or even what she is feeling just a lot of "I don't know". She did admit she was afraid if she quit people would be disappointed with her because everyone loves that she does gymnastics. I explained they just loved that she was good at something that made her happy so if it didn't make her happy anymore no one would be disappointed.

I put in her one month notice at gym today and told her for the next month, she says yes she wants to go I will take her she says no I am not going to try and convince her anymore I will just say ok and go back to what I was doing. If she chooses no more than yes over the next month we are done. I said I am always happy to pay for them to do the sports they love but I can't spend money on something I have to beg her to do every practice. Its emotionally exhausting for me and for her. I told her every sport has pros and cons, every sport you sacrifice time with, everything she will have some happy memories and some regrets and that's all ok.

This would be so much easier if I could tell what she wanted. She is equally upset about going and not going and tears herself up about it. She is equally upset about continuing and quitting that I can't tell if the right thing to do is to say ok that's it I am deciding you are done, or that's it just go to practice. I feel damned if you do damned if you don't right now, I definitely have some regrets about sports I quit when it got "hard" and I don't want her to have those same regrets.

So this long post to ask any advice? Is there something I'm not seeing here?
To me it sounds like she's feeling she might be ready to be done but is afraid of what the next step will be and is afraid of disappointing others. You sound like you are doing all of the right things to support her. A break sounds like it might be the best way for her to figure out if she really is ready to move on, or if she misses it too much to quit now.
My experience is that they often do this to get attention. Season is over, long haul of just practicing and working on upgrades. Its kinda like that feeling you have after a big event and then you suddenly realize it's over. So sometimes they find something else that can elicit a response. Only you can tell if she is having sincere/severe regrets about continuing. If she is just wishy/washy then let it be. Talking about it makes it a thing, you have told her if she wants to quit, then quit. Leave it at that. She will work it out.
Moving on from gymnastics can be a huge identity shift. I remember quitting at 13 and feeling like I lost a huge part of myself and needed to rediscover what made me ME if it wasn't gymnastics. So even if there's zero pressure being put on her from the outside, the decision to quit can still be fraught. I say let her talk it out as much as she can, and try to start some conversations about what else she might want to try. Is there another sport or activity she's always been curious about but never had time for? Are there other friends she doesn't get to see as much as she'd like?

Honestly (and this is just an outsider's guess,) just by your description I'd say she thinks she might be ready to be done but she's scared about what life without gymnastic will look like.
My experience is that some kids need help finishing up. The desire to put in such long hours has gone, but their identity is so tied up in it they can’t find a way out.

A break is a good idea. If there’s one thing we all learned during shutdown, it is that returning to gymnastics is not as hard as legend had it. Reassure her that a decision to leave does not have to be permanent, but that stopping and trying other things will give her heart time and space to decide what it wants. Reassure her that seeing her try new things will be just as lovely for you as seeing her get new skills.

And, depending on her age, you could discuss ways that she could stop training but still stay connected to the sport if that is what she wants, like learning to coach or judge.
Time off is a great idea, if her gym will let her come back. Taking a break will provide the clarity -- she can see how much she misses it and then decide what to do.
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Are you only seeing changes with respect to gym? For my DD who has anxiety, the gym is often the first place (but not the only place) I will see an increase in anxiety.... and it usually initially manifests itself in not want to go to practice because she "doesn't feel well."

I think you are doing the right thing by leaving the choice to attend practice in her hands. There is really no upside to "forcing" a kid into the gym for practice. I unfortunately learned that the hard way. A break is a good idea too. I am thinking about that for my DD.

It seems like you and your daughter are communicating well about the issue and she is sharing her feelings with you. That good communication will ultimately lead her to the right decision, I think. Good luck!!
She is 11 almost 12 and currently they are doing 18 hours. I think it will go back to 20 in the summer. She goes to middle school next year and generally she isnt the best with change. She always struggles emotionally when we change to summer schedule and change to school year schedule at gym. She also has been having a lot of heel pain with a growth spurt. She just seems a bit burned out. We have kept talking and she is taking this week off to see how much she "misses" gym we also talked about taking every other Saturday off so she can have weekends where she can be a kid. The gym is pretty understanding if parents choose a lightened schedule for a period of time especially in these preteen middle school years where everything is changing. I really do think she would regret quitting but I don't want to push that idea in her head too much and not listen to what she wants.

I just personally dont do well with uncertainty or lots of big emotions, I'm not a very "emotional" person much more practical. Lets decide and move on....but that is definately not her so I just need to suck it up and deal with the uncertainty for awhile. Better me be miserable for a few weeks than her have a big regret either way about gym. Thats why I like this site can get some other perspectives and vent so I can be calm and middle ground with her at home.
Do you know what goes on during practice? Has she gotten a new coach by any chance? If so, there may be a possibility for emotional or mental abuse. Maybe try watching her practice for one day might benefit her. Just a suggestion. :)
My daughter experienced a similar episode for almost an entire season when she was a bit younger (around 8). She didn't want to quit, but I could tell something was off. She would get very emotional and would cry before practice, but absolutely wanted to go and practice anyways! I was confused to say the least. I was afraid she was burning out so we took breaks here and there and when the season ended, we (parents and coach) decided she should take things a bit slower and change groups. She had the best season after that and now has moved back to her old group. What I learned from that is that every gymnasts path is different and taking things "slower" didn't slow her down at all. Sometimes less is more! Perhaps a bit of a step back will help your daughter decide if she just needs a break or if she does actually want to stop gym? Maybe you and her coach can agree on a lighter schedule for a few weeks to get started? And let's remember that in everything in life, there are ups and downs. It's normal to be less motivated sometimes especially when they've been practicing for so long! Too much pressure on making a big decision fast might make things worst.
Not a parent by any means (I apologize if that means I'm not allowed to reply--please let me know if this sub-forum is exclusive to parents), but I think most other responders have hit the nail on the head with saying that she feels done, but isn't sure what life would be like after gymnastics. It's kind of like, life with gymnastics may not make her as happy anymore, but life without gymnastics seems downright scary.

I think this also can be a common feeling for kids at the end of a really successful season. I remember as a young girl, feeling on top of the world about gymnastics DURING competition season because it felt like there was always a meet or event of some sort coming up and it was my life outside of school. However, during the summer months--and this was especially surprising to me during my first summer as a member of the competitive team--it felt like my passion somewhat dwindled for no reason. I think a huge part of it is that during the off-season, coaches are pushing more skills and conditioning, therefore, fear issues are more likely to develop and even minor setbacks on skills can feel like HUGE setbacks because the entire focus of gymnastics at the time is preparing new skills for the next season. Especially with this past crazy year, the weird adjustments in training may have made it feel somewhat like a different sport entirely for some kids. It's totally normal, and it sounds like as a parent, you are dealing with it absolutely wonderfully, so huge props to you.

If I had to give a piece of advice, I would see if there's any way that she could at least for the time being reduce her training hours or take a small break, which it sounds like you are already in the process of doing. Maybe during this time, if you/her are willing, she could try picking up another "side" activity. With summer coming up and pools hopefully opening in some areas, an activity I personally would suggest is diving. I did diving alongside gymnastics growing up, and I absolutely loved it. Pretty much all gymnasts I know, myself included, who dove excelled at it because of the gymnastics background, and I also know many gymnasts who transitioned to diving completely. By trying another activity during her "off" time, she will likely either realize a) she really misses gymnastics or b) she doesn't miss gymnastics and likes this new activity better--and if it ends up being the latter, quitting gymnastics may not seem nearly as scary because she has a new activity she's taken up. Of course there are tons of activities she could try, but I thought I'd suggest a sport that I loved growing up and I know a level 7/8 gymnast would be FANTASTIC at.

Good luck--you are dealing with this whole situation in a way I hope any parent would, and keep us updated!
Nothing has changed at gym and I have watched lots or practice, the coach is tough but not abusive. Some of her approaches don't work well for my people pleasing kiddo and I have talked to the coach about that and she has been willing to adapt. The coach agrees she thinks she will regret quitting so she told me that we all just need to keep talking and she is willing to do whatever to figure it out.

I agree a break and and easier schedule is probably the best approach, and what we are doing. She is taking this whole week off. She went to the chiropractor who thinks he can assist with some of her pain issues. She was really excited about that. I think going back we will do a modified schedule probably every other Saturday so we can have more family and fun time.

The one perk of this is I always worry about her back---just because of the sport---and they did back xrays and the Chiropractor said it looks good :) He said I always hate looking at a gymnasts xrays because a 6-7% end up having fracture they may have known nothing about, so he looked and said everything seems good but he will be doing a more indepth look before our next appointment just to identify anything that needs to be worked on. I like going to specialists that have worked with gymnasts before they understand the range of motion and impact levels with the sport.
My DD handles her anxiety in a similar way to what you are describing. Typically she would cry and try to get out of gym practices when she switched to a new level or different coach and the conditioning became more difficult. Most of the time she would work through it. However, after L5 around age 12 she was moved up to optionals and she went through 2 weeks of excuses and crying about why not to go to practice. I gave her 3 options: quit, move to Xcel or find the strength within herself to work through the transition to optionals. I think sometimes they need to be aware that they do not 'have' to be an upper level gymnast and it's ok to transition to something else. They should do it because they love the sport, want to accomplish their goals, etc. However, they are kids and no one has to be required to practice 15+ hours a week. In the end my daughter chose Xcel and 2 years later she is still going and plans to compete next year. I think she has a lot of fears and she didn't like the pressure of upgrading skills and the increased hours. So, Xcel has allowed her to upgrade and enjoy the sport at a more comfortable pace.
I wish she felt differently about Xcel, I think it could be a good place for her. Right now though, its mostly older girls (high school aged) and she would not be happy in that group and has said as much to me. The group she is in right now is the best, the girls are so nice and they are all very close so that is a big appeal for staying and staying in the group she is in.

She could absolutely repeat Level 7 if she wanted and I have told her that. Truth is shes really excited about most of her level 8 stuff. She already can flip her vault and stand it up on a mat in the pit and is one of the best in her group. Bars she needs to get the pirouette back (had a beautiful one lost and lost it but shes close now) She really really really wants her double back on bars. Has a good one in the pit. She really has too much power on bars dismount (she hates fly aways right now cause she always over rotates and lands on her back which she hates) Beam will be a struggle but always has been, but she was excited to work on something other than HS BHS cause she hates that. Shes a kid that doesnt really like meet season....summer is more fun you learn new stuff and thats what she enjoys she doesnt like the pressure of meets so thats what caught me off guard her getting anxious now when she had been really excited about working on new things and being done with meets.
I don’t know if this will help, but I did gymnastics as a little kid, and quit. Now I want nothing more than to get back into it, and I did. However now that I’m basically just starting so late I have tons of regrets and always think about what could have been if I stuck with it. I would hate for the same thing to happen to your daughter, but maybe it’s the best thing. I hope you figure it out, good luck and lots of love!!!
She went back last night and did pretty good. I am trying not to ask too many questions. I am a "Ok are we in or out" kind of person and I dont think that pressure will do her any favors. But it was a good practice and the week off helped her heel and wrist pain. We go to the chiropractor today for an adjustment as well which she is looking forward to. The coach is a bit tough and I have told her that the "tough love" approach doesnt work well with my dd so I think she is going to take it a bit easy on her for a little while. I am hoping these small changes will take the pressure off and make her happy again. She walked in and all her little friends cheered it was so cute her face lit up. I know she will stay in touch with these kids if she stays or leaves but I also know if they are still in gym their free time to hang out with her will be greatly diminished. I guess we will just see how the rest of the month goes...sigh
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