For Parents Bullying

Love2016

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Hello!! My daughter is dealing with a bullying issue right now from a couple of the girls in her group. We are not allowed to watch practice but almost every day after practice she comes out with a new story of what this girl did to her. I understand that some girls are just mean but it seems this particular girl really goes after my daughter and it could be Bc she’s one of the youngest and knows she can’t get away with it. I’ve talked to the coach on multiple occasions and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. The little girl will tell her things like don’t talk to me at all today, your not good on ______ event etc. There is a new girl in her group and it seems that the same girl that is always mean to my daughter has gotten the new girl to be mean to her as well. They were telling her the other day that she is slow on vault and making fun of her for it. I like her gym and coaches and so does my daughter but when is enough enough? This is a group of level 3 girls btw. Anyone ever had to deal with a similar situation?
 

JBS

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Yes... I deal with it all the time as I am a head coach. The coaches will need to deal with this. If the coaches don't believe it is an issue... then... I have nothing.
 

txgymfan

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If the coaches won’t deal with it leave the gym. I’m not joking, if there is no other gymnastics gym nearby then try other sports. It makes absolutely no sense to “ like the coaches “ if they allow your daughter ( and likely others) to be bullied. I would set up one more meeting with the coaches involved and the head coach, include the gym owner if it is not the coach as well. Tell them they WILL address this immediately if nothing changes within a week, walk out the door and don’t look back. If parents ask why you left tell them honestly that your child was being bullied and you will not tolerate it. Tell your child that you support her but as a parent this is your decision. No childhood activity is worth her getting belittled. As a child that was bullied and had it ignored by teachers and parents as “kids being kids”. I will tell you I still remember the comments made and I’m still hurt that so many adults did not take it seriously.

Do Not Tolerate Anyone Abusing Your Child Or Ignoring Those Who Do!!!
 

gymgal

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How old and what has the coach said about the incidents? Has the coach seen it happen? Is it happening to other girls? What are the coaches doing about it? Maybe talking with other parents to see if other teammates have witnessed it so you have back up when talking with the coaches. Also get a feel as to whether this is just annoying to your dd or if it is really bothering/affecting her. Kids will react differently to this type of banter. Mine would have ignored one or two girls, not cared. Others internalize it and you have to counteract it by giving them the tools to stand up to the nonsense, having an adult step in, or leaving the evironment all together - unfortunately, that means the mean girl wins and will likely continue it.
 
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Eleven sol

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How old and what has the coach said about the incidents? Has the coach seen it happen? Is it happening to other girls? What are the coaches doing about it? Maybe talking with other parents to see if other teammates have witnessed it so you have back up when talking with the coaches. Also get a feel as to whether this is just annoying to your dd or if it is really bothering/affecting her. Kids will react differently to this type of banter. Mine would have ignored one or two girls, not cared. Others internalize it and you have to counteract it by giving them the tools to stand up to the nonsense, having an adult step in, or leaving the evironment all together - unfortunately, that means the mean girl wins and will likely continue it.
Hello!! My daughter is dealing with a bullying issue right now from a couple of the girls in her group. We are not allowed to watch practice but almost every day after practice she comes out with a new story of what this girl did to her. I understand that some girls are just mean but it seems this particular girl really goes after my daughter and it could be Bc she’s one of the youngest and knows she can’t get away with it. I’ve talked to the coach on multiple occasions and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. The little girl will tell her things like don’t talk to me at all today, your not good on ______ event etc. There is a new girl in her group and it seems that the same girl that is always mean to my daughter has gotten the new girl to be mean to her as well. They were telling her the other day that she is slow on vault and making fun of her for it. I like her gym and coaches and so does my daughter but when is enough enough? This is a group of level 3 girls btw. Anyone ever had to deal with a similar situation?
I am dealing with it at the middle school level, not my gymnast, my soccer player. We read some books regarding the relational aggression and mental toughness in her sport, it gave her some tools and I’ve seen a lot of improvement. Mainly, the girl was pressuring her to play down to her level and punishing her if she did not. Tricky because they are friends. Find a book at her level.
 

Eleven sol

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BTW I reported it to the soccer coach and he had no idea. And I believed him, but it was happening. Girls are sneaky. Try the book “Simon’s Hook” for that age group.
 

bookworm

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Well I could've written a small novella on this... back when my girls were at a gym where they practiced 6 days a week and they were fairly new there, one of the older girls who had been there her whole gym career decided to make it her life's work to torment my youngest on a daily basis...which of course I was not aware of for a while. When I became aware of it, I spoke to the coach who in his own warped way said "oh we all talk to each other like that" to which I replied "well then it stops today, because I'm not paying for my 10 yo to be bullied" . He said he would speak to the bully and predictably, it got worse so I told the coach , either you stop her or I will confront this kid (who was a 17 yo prima donna) . Two days later, my daughter comes out in tears, AGAIN, because of this kid so I March right back into the gym and end up face to face with Bully, and I tear her a new one ...not my finest moment but nothing untrue was said ... she says "I'm going to tell my parents what you said " ... I say "I dare you and have them call me for the full account of your behavior"

Well doesn't the dad (who's kinda a gruff rough around the edges guy who I didn't know at all) call me AT WORK the next day to "talk about what you said to my daughter" . I was taken aback at first but I ended up having a 30 minute conversation with him about exactly what his daughter had said and done to my youngest in the months prior and at the end of the call he said to me, "sadly, this sounds exactly like how my daughter could behave and I will put an end to this and it will not happen again... but if it does, please call me directly and try not to get into with her " ... I agreed and he obviously spoke to her because she returned to the gym, tail between her legs, apologized to my youngest with a "I didn't realize it was upsetting you " but whatever... it stopped and they actually were pretty friendly after that .

Ironically, the coach didn't put a stop to it and I was actually shocked when the dad responded as he did but I would've left that gym if it hadn't stopped because as Txgymfan says, it's not worth putting up with to be bullied on a daily basis.
 

Eleven sol

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Well I could've written a small novella on this... back when my girls were at a gym where they practiced 6 days a week and they were fairly new there, one of the older girls who had been there her whole gym career decided to make it her life's work to torment my youngest on a daily basis...which of course I was not aware of for a while. When I became aware of it, I spoke to the coach who in his own warped way said "oh we all talk to each other like that" to which I replied "well then it stops today, because I'm not paying for my 10 yo to be bullied" . He said he would speak to the bully and predictably, it got worse so I told the coach , either you stop her or I will confront this kid (who was a 17 yo prima donna) . Two days later, my daughter comes out in tears, AGAIN, because of this kid so I March right back into the gym and end up face to face with Bully, and I tear her a new one ...not my finest moment but nothing untrue was said ... she says "I'm going to tell my parents what you said " ... I say "I dare you and have them call me for the full account of your behavior"

Well doesn't the dad (who's kinda a gruff rough around the edges guy who I didn't know at all) call me AT WORK the next day to "talk about what you said to my daughter" . I was taken aback at first but I ended up having a 30 minute conversation with him about exactly what his daughter had said and done to my youngest in the months prior and at the end of the call he said to me, "sadly, this sounds exactly like how my daughter could behave and I will put an end to this and it will not happen again... but if it does, please call me directly and try not to get into with her " ... I agreed and he obviously spoke to her because she returned to the gym, tail between her legs, apologized to my youngest with a "I didn't realize it was upsetting you " but whatever... it stopped and they actually were pretty friendly after that .

Ironically, the coach didn't put a stop to it and I was actually shocked when the dad responded as he did but I would've left that gym if it hadn't stopped because as Txgymfan says, it's not worth putting up with to be bullied on a daily basis.
Good for you bookworm and good that the Dad dealt with it.
 

Eleven sol

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Boom!... that's exactly it. Boys just throw each other on the ground and fight... so much easier to deal with... because you can catch them. Girls do the "invisible" fighting that is very hard to catch unless you are keyed into it.
The smart ones pretend to be perfect in front of adults. It’s the ones adults never expect who do it sometimes. The bully needs to maintain her social status as the best. My daughter ended up telling her 1:1 she needed to stop making excuses and work harder. There was a virtual screaming match and the other girl backed down. My daughter has schooled her on the soccer field since then, no apologies, no remorse, end of story.
 

ldw4mlo

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Making an assumption that your daughter has tried to deal with it on her own, to no avail. I would handle it like bookworm. And if it didn’t get fixed we would be out.

The ultimate responsibility is on the grown ups.
 
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cmg

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If the coaches are not dealing with it I would go to the Gym Owner. I don't think they would want the reputation of having a bully on the team and not dealing with it. If the owner does not address the situation with the coaches, only then would I go directly to the parent. Even though the previous commenter's story turned out better, not sure that would happen in every case. I agree that I would also check out other gyms but of course there is no guarantee that other gyms don't have bully's. Also maybe finding techniques for your daughter to handle the bullying would be helpful. This is a life lesson, unfortunately there will be bullies everywhere, work, college, life in general and we all need good techniques to deal with these people without self doubt. Its just too bad kids are having to learn these skills at a younger and younger age these days.
 

JBS

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As a coach... I want the girls to want to 1 up their teammates... it makes the workouts more competitive... kids get things quicker. Knowing what you are creating as a coach... you have to deal with it... it's a coaches responsibility even if they don't know something is going on. Creating this culture of 1 upping your teammates will lead to issues.

A coach must not only deal with these issues on a reactive basis as soon as they find out about them... they must also proactively deal with the culture.

We have two simple rules that work well that many don't really agree with... but if they don't... they can go to a different gym...
  1. You don't have to be friends... but you are teammates.
  2. Teammates must be respectful of each other.
There is no requirement on our team hang out as a team outside of the gym or invite your whole team to your birthday... however... your teammate is your teammate in the gym and out of the gym. Respect all the time.

We have had some issues lately (especially with the masks)... we are trying a few new things with our team... and it is surprisingly working very well so far...
  1. If you say something that is mean or you realize could seem mean to your teammate... apologize out loud to the other teammate so other teammates and coaches can hear you. We will then take the time to talk about it if we need to.
  2. If something hurts your feelings... say so out loud so both coaches and teammates can hear you right away. We will then take the time to talk about it.
  3. Thank all athletes... coaches... and sometimes parents involved in 1 & 2 for making our program better.
It's an ongoing thing as many times things start by someone saying something that is just taken the wrong way by someone else and it then turns into a full blown "invisible" battle. Harder for a coach to catch right now too as you can't see facial expressions well either.
 

M2Abi

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My daughter dealt with bullying/exclusion in Level 3. It was never an issue in the higher levels. Definitely address it with the coach and teach your daughter how to deal with it. If nothing improves, then I would leave. Gymnastics isn't worth needing therapy later in life.
 

raenndrops

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My favorite comeback when I would get bullied as a kid (mostly about my weight or the way I dressed) was to ask (just loud enough for the nearest adult to overhear) "(Name of bully), did you just say (or call me) ________________________?" Filling in the blank with whatever they had said. "That wasn't very nice and could hurt someone's feelings. Please stop."

I had lots of practice with that and it got better and easier each time. By the 4th grade, I was so good at it that I could do it in "teacher giving a life lesson" tone. By college (yes, there was still bullying in college ... and I wasn't saying it to get an adult's attention, but to truly help the bully become a better person), the "please stop" became "rethink before you speak." ;)
 

Greatlakesmom

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Our gym has a zero bullying policy. Three strikes and you’re out. The first strike includes a discussion between the coach and the gymnast I believe. Second strike includes a discussion between the owner, parents and gymnast. Third strike they leave the gym. As a parent, I appreciate how seriously they take bullying. There was one instance, where a number of girls were involved in a bullying incident. The owner called an emergency parent meeting within 48 hours for this specific training group. Parents were reminded of the policy and the steps that would be taken. Parents were encouraged to have discussions with their gymnasts. I myself have reached out to coaches after I was made aware of bullying. I received an immediate response and the training group involved was sat down the very next practice and there was a discussion about how to Respect and support each other as teammates. I will add that a number of parents reached out to the gym at the same time so it was clear to the coaches that there was an an immediate issue.
To the original poster, I would recommend as others have to have a discussion with the owner. Then, depending on their response, you may need to move on.
 

ldw4mlo

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yeh not a fan of one up. The only person each kid should care about is ultimately themselves. Did you do better then last week....... awesome.
 
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JBS

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yeh not a fan of one up. The only person each kid should care about is ultimately themselves. Did you do better then last week....... awesome.
I highly disagree... by controlling the 1 up environment... we have much less bullying than some places. The 1 up concept is going to fully exist even if nothing is ever said about it.

Well... I guess it wouldn't necessarily exist if there were never meets where one teammate beats another... or if there wasn't a spot on the bench where one teammate has to sit because another player is better than them.

You better believe if I have two rookies catching Jaeger's that we are going to play a fun game to see who can catch more. Now if I put the same two athletes head to head everyday and it turns evil or the same one always wins... that's just bad coaching. And that Jaeger game... I could put them both on the same team and say you have to catch 6 combined... doesn't matter... they will keep track of who caught 4 and who caught 2. I could eliminate the game all together and they still know who is catching the most... and it drives the other one nuts.

In a youth sports world of scores and medals... you must teach them that going head to head and losing isn't a bad thing... it makes the team better.
 

NutterButter

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There was a bully on DDs team around L7 when most of the girls were in 6th-ish grade. Coach was receptive to feedback and proactive on solutions. It got a little better but the bully went even more under the radar. I was already making a list of gyms to check out and intended to move my DD at the end of the season if things didn't improve. The bully ended up quitting just before the season started.
 
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MuggleMom

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I would re-engage the coach and be specific about what is going on. I think coaches may not understand or think that it may not be "bullying" So I would say: "This child is sayind and doing XY and Z. It makes my child feel X Y and Z about gym and is impacting her self esteem. This needs to be corrected so that a better team culture can be established or these kids will not want to stay here or in this sport very long."

I think the more specific you can be the coaches can see what you mean. That its a pattern and that it has an impact. If you just say "bullying" as a general term the bully can state you are exaggerating or overreacting or it was just teasing etc to downplay it. Or they can get defensive because they dont see themselves as a bully (this can be a bit generous cause the kid probably does know exactly what they are doing but some kids just have less empathy and may not realize that what they are doing is hurtful)

I also agree with what others have said giving your kid tools to deal with this situation is also great. Even if its deal with it emotionally while the adults deal with the bully. In this day and age kids are exposed to alot of this type of behavior either online or in person so the better equipped they are the better their mental health in the future.