For Parents Does My 8yr Old Gymnast Love Gymnastics Too Much?

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

skygirlpc

Proud Parent
Mar 3, 2016
132
My daughter has a tendancy to become somewhat single minded about something that she enjoys and she seems to go through phases where it is worse than other times. Right now it seems gymnastics is all she thinks about. I love that she has something that she is so passionate about but worry that it will hinder her friendships (I envision the other children being like "That girl is weird, all she wants to do is gymnastics"). I also worry that if she ever is unable to continue gymnastics for some reason it would be devastating.

Here are a few examples:

1)Over the weekend we met a family that has two children close to her age at the beach. We brough beach toys and water toys. Granted, the water was too cold to really play in but all my daughter wanted to do was cartwheels, backwalkovers and such. I kept gently reminding her that her friends may prefer to play something other than gymnastics and she would stop for a mintue to try another activity but always went back to tumbling.

2)We went to a birthday party at place that has lots of toys and inflatable bounce houses. All she did was tumble in one of the bounce houses. She had fun but never did anything else.

3)She had her best friend (who is on her gymnastics team, same age, same level) spend the night and the friend finally said "Can we do something other than make up gymnastics routines?" My daughter did and they found other things to do and had fun, so she can do other things.




She does have a bit of social anxiety and gymnastics is comforting to her. I have noticed that when she is anxious her go to is talking about gymnastics because it calms her, maybe that is also why she is so drawn to doing gymnastics. I am a worrier though, so now I am at the point of trying to decide if this is a healthy passion or an unhealthy obsession.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BusyMomof2

BusyMomof2

Member
Feb 2, 2022
50
44
I could have written this post myself! My 8-year old sounds somewhat similar...she is very singularly focused. She prefers a single best friend, not a group, loves the same food/shows/songs on repeat until she changes her mind, etc. She is OBSESSED with gymnastics. She's at the gym 9 hours formally but honestly she probably practices another 15-20 hours a week at home. Her coaches have noticed and have shared that she's on fire, picking up new things with rapid speed and making corrections easily...so it's not a bad thing right now.

Her non-gymnastics friends lovingly tease her about how much she talks about it but they seem to enjoy playing gymnastics constantly so it hasn't been an issue (yet). But I do recognize how this could become problematic at some point, especially with the sometimes fickle nature of little girls and friendship.

My daughter doesn't have anxiety (but I have another child that does, so I get it) so for now, I'm rolling with it. I think it's okay to really have a passion for something even at a young age. She knows that we're committed to her gymnastics journey but if she starts to feel differently that it's totally okay. She does love art/all things creative so I do encourage that play as well.

On our team, I would say that about 1/3 are like my daughter - eat/sleep/breathe all things gymnastics. I don't think it's totally uncommon! :)
 
  • Love
Reactions: skygirlpc

LucyRobinson

Gymnast
Feb 27, 2022
133
I don't think it's an unhealthy obsession. I was a shy little kid who was happiest perfecting their gymnastics routines or doing handstand contests. Gymnastics was and often is still the best part of my day, and it was a solace when I had issues with friends. I missed it whenever I went on vacation. I practiced at home.

As I grew into my teens, I still love gymnastics. But as my practices increased, the time in between is filled with homework, chores, and friends, rather than constantly gymnastics.

Remind of her other interests. Spend some time drawing, reading, playing outside, taking a new kind of class once a week. Praise her for her talents in other areas. If she is always filling 'extra' time with at home gymnastics, perhaps remind her of X art project you started last week or X fort she made in the park.

If she is continuing to do gymnastics in front of other kids when they want to do something else, that is really just a manners thing more than anything. She wants to do gymnastics and that's fine. But how would she feel if she went over to someone else's house and all they wanted to do was play soccer but she didn't like to play soccer? She might feel like they were leaving her out or showing off. No matter what she wants to do...whether she was crazy about gymnastics or video games or piano...she has to take what other people want into account.
 

gymgal

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,569
Sounds like a personality thing. Some children are more hyperfocused than others. I don't think it's an issue per se but as the parent, you need to steer these kids down other paths to help them develop in other ways too. A simple way to reduce her hyperfocus on gymnastics and keep her wanting more is to not allow gymnastics outside of the gym. Its a safety issue but also increases the chance of developing form problems. A couple of handstands, cartwheels? sure. But that's it. If she refuses to follow the rules, she doesn't go back to the gym.
 

PreciousJ

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Fan
Feb 16, 2021
446
USA
This seems to be a popular age for this type of "devotion" to the sport. Several of DD's teammates around that age are also hyperfocused on gymnastics outside the gym. However, the girls at gym that are a little older (middle school age) seem to keep gym at gym, generally speaking. Of course, my observation is based on a small sample size, but very interesting....
 

skygirlpc

Proud Parent
Mar 3, 2016
132
Sounds like a personality thing. Some children are more hyperfocused than others. I don't think it's an issue per se but as the parent, you need to steer these kids down other paths to help them develop in other ways too. A simple way to reduce her hyperfocus on gymnastics and keep her wanting more is to not allow gymnastics outside of the gym. Its a safety issue but also increases the chance of developing form problems. A couple of handstands, cartwheels? sure. But that's it. If she refuses to follow the rules, she doesn't go back to the gym.
I understand your point but 1) her coach and I have talked about it and he says she is very mature in that and he trusts her not do anything he wouldn’t want her doing outside of the gym. So I’ll go with his rules. And 2) she is still young and playing gymnastics is where she really comes to life. Making up imaginary competitors and routines keeps that childlike fun in the sport for her. I refuse to take that away when even her coach doesn’t think it needs to be taken away.

So, I respect your advice but I don’t think it fully applies to our situation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Livelovegymnastics

NutterButter

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Jan 24, 2013
844
My daughter was exactly like yours at that age (and she also has social anxiety which was evident when she was 8). I used to worry a ton about it too! She's now a young adult and is still the same. Lots of people have singular or narrow interests and that's totally fine...admirable actually that they have found something that brings them so much joy.

My daughter now is a college gymnast and is likely at the end of her career due to injury. It's not ending on her terms thanks to her last year of JO and 1st year of college being impacted by COVID but it is what it is. I still worry about her transition out of gymnastics but I've tried to let go of my anxiety surrounding her sport. She truly has all the life skills she needs and will figure it out when the time comes.

Also, your daughter is the prime age for 'playing' gymnastics with friends whether it's at recess or at home. This phase is short-lived...enjoy it! My DD reached a point where she stopped doing skills at recess because she felt too judged (that darn social anxiety!) and at one point the teachers had to put a stop to it because some kids were chucking skills and one girl broke her arm doing a cherry drop like thing off the bar. My DD learned real quick that gymnastics is best left in the gym even if her obsession manifested in other ways (the video of the London Olympics and that American Girl gymnast movie were on auto-play in our house for a LONG time!).

So, that's a long way of saying - I get it, but don't stress about it. It will be OK. :cool:
 

LCsMom

Proud Parent
Oct 27, 2020
20
48
My 11 year old gymnast is the same way.. it doesn't "help" that her best friend is also a gymnast. Even when they break out to do other things, they always find a way to incorporate gymnastics into it. When they do sleep overs they watch movies about gymnastics. When they listen to music they listen to youtube playlists of floor routines. When they do school projects they find a way to make the topic about gymnastics. Last summer they and some other friends wrote and performed in their own play. They worked and edited the script and created the set and rehearsed and then put it on for us. It was really fantastically done but you can guess what it was about by the title "The Haunted Gym." So they've even roped their non-gymnastics friends into it.

At least I know she enjoys what she does.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

New Posts