For Parents Has anyone ever "forced" a change?

CLgym

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Hi there. I am looking for advice regarding a forced change (either forced quit or gym change). Has anyone done this to their child?

Long post -- sorry!! For those who have been following, my DD (just turned 13 a few days ago) is a repeat L8 who has lost most of her skills this year. It has gone from bad to worse. Possibly it started due to growth/normal fears, but has now snowballed into something bigger and I think largely mental.

Yesterday DD texted (again) for me to pick her up early. Said one coach was being mean (coach 1) and another (coach 2) laughed at her. Neither of these coaches are the one coach (coach 3) that DD and others typically have trouble with (who I have mentioned in the past).

When I arrived HC wanted to chat with me about why DD was leaving early. I was honest about DD's text and asked HC to talk to DD (bc DD hates to talk with me about gym problems). HC had a long conversation with DD, who to her credit articulated her experience with the coaches. Unfortunately, it sounds like HC at least partially invalidated DD's perception ("we are not like that here") and made excuses/justified the coaches behavior. HC did express sympathy ("I feel bad for you") to DD. During our brief chat, HC told me that DD isn't working hard and that is why she is losing skills (this is technically true, although I think there is a deeper root cause for why she isn't working). She also told me that she keeps thinking DD will quit. Notably, this was the first time any coach has ever talked with me or DD about what's going on with DD in the gym (except when I requested a meeting last fall and was told it was likely related to age/growth).

On the way home I talked to DD about changing gyms. Long story short, she said no. There are only two nearby options: (1) old gym would probably take her back in Xcel; or (2) a local park district team with few optionals. If we wanted to look at a strongish JO program, we are looking about an hour long drive one way (and frankly, I'm not sure that DD would even make such a team with current skills).

I was prepared to maintain the status quo and let this play out, but then DD's phone started blowing up with texts. I peeked. Here is a sampling of comments made by DD's teammates about the current gym situation:

"Was [DD's] mom there to tell [HC] about what's been going on?"
"You know how [coach 1] has been ignoring us, yeah well it was the worst day yet."
"[Coach 1] walked away when [gymnast] tried to talk to him"
"[Coach 2] didn't care that I was crying..."
"[Coach 1] ignored us and told us we were all lying and had so much attitude."
"We had [event] for like 2 and 1/2 hours today and [coach 1] didn't talk to us for most of it."
"For part of it [coach 1] literally left."
"[Coach 1] got mad cause we r scared to do stuff"
"Maybe if we actually had a coach we wouldn't be in this situation. I mean a coach that supports us and wants to coach us and encourages us and provides a healthy environment."
"It is not normal that everyone is losing everything."
"It's not our fault. It is not fair to blame ourselves. It is [coach 1's] job to help us succeed and the fact of the matter is [coach] isn't doing that..."
We are the only group [coach 1] refuses to talk to."
"At this point [coach 1] isn't even a coach. A coach is someone who is there to spot people and help them get better. Not someone who rolls eyes, ignores their students, and then sarcastically remarks that we will perfect at competitions."
"I think the other thing that's frustrating was today we got assignments that were realistically impossible to finish or even do."
"[Coach 1] refuses to work with people who are scared because [coach] doesn't want to do that."

DD did not comment at all -- these were remarks from several teammates.

After reading these comments, and looking at DD's situation objectively, I am fairly positive nothing will change if she stays at her current gym. But I don't see how I can force a change (I mean, I could force her to quit by not paying -- but that seems cruel).

Thoughts? Has anyone successfully forced a change? And what to do about so few gym options -- and the fact that DD would struggle with a tryout right now.
 

MILgymFAM

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I think it’s probably not all that common, so I’ll jump in because I have forced both a gym change (twice) and to quit the sport (twice)- once each for both of my girls. For my older daughter, there are zero regrets other than me not forcing the issue both times sooner. For my younger daughter there are some regrets to the forced gym change- the new gym was better for her heart and soul but worse for her gymnastics.. but she wouldn’t change the decision either. She just wishes that she could’ve had her cake and eaten it too- and who wouldn’t, right? I really agonized over this stuff before pulling the trigger. I’m sure my friends were all super tired of hearing about it. My husband didn’t agree with me, not once. But in hindsight I know I did what was best for my kids. Like my older daughter, I just wish I would’ve done it sooner.
As for your last question- my older daughter struggled with tryouts on her forced gym change, but she did her best and let her attitude carry her the rest of the way. For my younger daughter, the forcing to quit was because she had lost so many skills that she literally couldn’t be placed on a team at any level. There does come a point when the answer needs to be to just move on imo.
 
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CLgym

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@MILgymFAM -- Thanks for the reply. I am really struggling to find a solution to this puzzle. I wish I'd had a better understanding of DD's gym situation months ago (or a crystal ball back then). When things were going well for DD up through L7, she had no problems with coaches. They were all great to her, actually. So I was inclined to believe that DD's coaching complaints were tainted by her own frustrations/struggles/blocks. When I read those text message, though, ugh! Not good.

At this point, I just don't want to make things worse emotionally for DD. And, right now, both options -- (1) forced quit/change or (2) stay and see what happens -- seem like bad choices.
 

MILgymFAM

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@MILgymFAM -- Thanks for the reply. I am really struggling to find a solution to this puzzle. I wish I'd had a better understanding of DD's gym situation months ago (or a crystal ball back then). When things were going well for DD up through L7, she had no problems with coaches. They were all great to her, actually. So I was inclined to believe that DD's coaching complaints were tainted by her own frustrations/struggles/blocks. When I read those text message, though, ugh! Not good.

At this point, I just don't want to make things worse emotionally for DD. And, right now, both options -- (1) forced quit/change or (2) stay and see what happens -- seem like bad choices.
In my personal opinion, stay and see what happens can be so damaging, and can lead to kids questioning if they’re wrong about how they’re being treated. It doesn’t sound like a healthy environment for your kid in any way. If it were me I would be forcing her to try something new for at least long enough to get some perspective on the sport.
 

PreciousJ

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I recall reading your DD's story in the past. I'm so sorry she (and her teammates, and you!) is experiencing this. Kind of adding to what @MILgymFAM responded, may I ask how your DD feels about gymnastics in general at this point? Does she even think a "change of scenery" would rejuvenate her?
 
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CLgym

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@PreciousJ -- DD insists she wants to continue gymnastics. She expressed a teeny tiny willingness to look at other good JO gyms (if they would allow her to train this season w/o competing). But, as I said in my original post, those are very far away and tryouts pose a problem. Driving a long distance under the circumstances seems silly. I would love her to try Xcel at old gym, but we left when she was 7/8 yrs old exactly because they would only consider her for Xcel so I can totally understand her refusal to go back.

Edited to add -- she is loving rock climbing (and had fun this summer doing a two week crew/rowing camp) so I have tried to steer her towards other activities.... but she still wants to keep doing gym
 
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txgymfan

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If you look at past posts Bookworm forced her daughters to change gyms a few times.

Personally, I firmly believe that mental health comes first. If a child is not supported mentally, if gymnastics doesn’t increase her confidence then pull her from the gym immediately.

Absolutely, NO gymnastics skill is worth dealing with emotionally abusive coaches. I would also consider putting her in therapy.
 

CLgym

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@txgymfan. Thanks for the intel. I will search out old posts.

I agree with your perspective regarding a mentally abusive environment. But how do I know if this is it? Not to make excuses, but coaches are allowed to have bad weeks, or try “tough love” to motivate (heck, I’ve tried being “tough” on DD in an attempt to light a spark.) Plus it’s human nature to gravitate towards gymnasts making progress (although ignoring struggling gymnasts is certainly not the hallmark of a great coach). FWIW, there is no yelling, no forcing skills, no “standing on the beam for an hour” kind of thing.

Right now the stress of a tryout and gym change feels like it would break DD.

However, without answering the abusive environment question, it certainly doesn’t seem like current coaches are committed to turning this around for DD.

Also, DD has started therapy, and has been on a SSRI for awhile now.
 

CLgym

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On a related note, HC wants me to meet with “coach 1” to discuss everything. Not sure what to say. This coach has always been very kind to my DD; She was the coach’s first and I think only gymnast to put up a 9.9 (L7) on this coach’s event. It’s hard to comprehend how much has changed in two years. Any tips on this meeting are appreciated!
 

mommyof1

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I would pull your daughter from this gym immediately and would not meet with the coach. It is the head coach’s job to manage her coaching staff, not yours.

I have moved my kid twice, and both times I should have done it much sooner. If you are even questioning whether a switch is necessary, it’s probably overdue. I’d do it now while gyms are still taking summer transfers.
 

kecks

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In my opinion the fact that the girls are discussing the coaches's behavior in such clear terms speaks well for the gym. In an abusive environment in general in my experience people do not speak up not even among themselves and if they do are silenced very quickly. Them talking about this this openly means to me that such behavior is not normalized in this gym and so the girls find it to be unhelpful and start talking about it.
 
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ldw4mlo

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Clearly something is going on with the coach and/or the girls as a group. I would chat with the coaches. And share the general goings on on text. But I would also be prepared to leave and leave fast if it goes even further off the rails after the chat
 

raenndrops

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On a related note, HC wants me to meet with “coach 1” to discuss everything. Not sure what to say. This coach has always been very kind to my DD; She was the coach’s first and I think only gymnast to put up a 9.9 (L7) on this coach’s event. It’s hard to comprehend how much has changed in two years. Any tips on this meeting are appreciated!
Can you talk with the other parents (of the girls who were involved in the texting - see if their gymnasts have said anything to them) and see if they would be willing to come with you to the meeting? That way, it isn't JUST your DD who is having difficulties with the coach.
And as for tryouts at this point ... your girl scored a 9.9 on an event in Level 7. Most gyms understand that the pandemic, growth, fears, and missed time in the gym can affect the girls. Talk to the gyms BEFORE putting her through the tryout process. If they can't see her POTENTIAL, then don't even try that gym.
And she needs to get out of her current gym ASAP unless the meeting with coach 1 goes extremely well and changes are immediate.
 

Mommysunshine

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You need to make the decision to either change gyms or being done with gymnastics. Not continue with current gym.

I think I would lean towards being done. There are so many other activities that she would likely excel in. Change is always hard.

Why does DD want to stay with gymnastics. Is it because she has always been a gymnast and doesn't really know much else? I did see she tried some rock climbing. But I would feel confident she could find another activity she would do well at.Is it because she doesn't want to be a quitter? If that is it, you get to call the shots, have her quit and she can always say it was her parents decision and not hers.
 

gymnastmom05

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I forced a gym change for my DD when she was 13/L8. Her gym was suddenly without a HC and had zero idea how long it was going to be without one (gym made the decision to fire HC without a plan and it was not related to abuse...2 men that basically didn't agree with the direction of the program. Which I understand is the gym owners right but should have had a plan in place instead of the athletes being punished). Anyway, it was then that we knew she/we were too invested with time and money to continue at a gym that didn't seem to value the athletes and their dedication. We had no choice but to add a long commute. I told her she had a tryout and if she wanted to continue gymnastics, we would support her and make the commute work but she gave up too much of everything else in her life to not be valued. She was scared, she was sad (I was too - we had been at old gym since she was 5) but she loved gymnastics more. Now that the transition is in the past (it's been over 2 years), she's so thankful we forced the change. Change is hard. Change is scary but sometimes change is absolutely necessary.
 

mommyof1

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Clearly something is going on with the coach and/or the girls as a group. I would chat with the coaches. And share the general goings on on text. But I would also be prepared to leave and leave fast if it goes even further off the rails after the chat

I would not tell the gym or coaches anything about the text string. That could cause a backlash for the other gymnasts. If OP wants to talk with the coaches, she should confine the conversation to her daughter's experiences.
 

CLgym

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Thank you, everyone, for your replies so far. It has been interesting to see that the responses are as varied as the thoughts in my head! We are going on vacation next week, and I will take the break to talk with DD again. HC suggested my meeting with coach 1 occur the week after we return, but has not scheduled anything. I am curious to hear from DD how things went today (since I'm sure HC talked to coach 1)

I think there is a distinction between a mentally abusive environment and one in which progress can't be made due to a coach's inability or lack of interest in working with struggling gymnasts. My gut tells me that DD's current situation falls in the second bucket. Of course, the end result might very well be the same.
 
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ldw4mlo

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I think there is a distinction between a mentally abusive environment and one in which progress can't be made due to a coach's inability or lack of interest in working with struggling gymnasts. My gut tells me that DD's current situation falls in the second bucket. Of course, the end result might very well be the same.
it’s a question of degrees.

so if you are used to being beaten 5 days a week. Being beaten only one day or 2 days a week is not so bad. it’s a deal……

There is an adult working with young impressionable kids. And the best case is they are detached and not interested. Well at least she isn’t mean.

Is this what you want to pay for? Do you really want a female child ( or any really) to settle for “not horrible“ treatment. As the bar/the standard…….

The behavior needs to be addressed.
 

ldw4mlo

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I would not tell the gym or coaches anything about the text string. That could cause a backlash for the other gymnasts. If OP wants to talk with the coaches, she should confine the conversation to her daughter's experiences.
Everyone handles things differently. I’d be talking to other parents and giving them a heads ups up. But just keeping quiet is what perpetrates bad situations. Multiple people thinking they are they only one.

yeah no, this is exactly what got USAG into it’s mess.
 
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