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gwenmom

Proud Parent
Jan 24, 2013
538
Hi Everyone,

My almost 8 year old DD is competing L3 this year. Last night she came to me in tears over her stride/mill circle (stupid stride/mill circle). She is very frustrated with herself that she hasn't gotten it and is crying that she will never get to be like Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. Sigh.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to help her emotionally through this? I told her that she is working hard and it will come, and that is she is frustrated she can always talk to me but she should tell her coaches how she is feeling so they can help her out on the floor work through it. She is extremely competitive, not so much with her teammates, but with herself. I also suggested that maybe we sit down with the HC and she can talk to him about her frustrations with herself. I'm not sure if this is the right thing, but it did seem to calm her down (finally).

I asked her if she still wanted to do gymnastics and that was a resounding yes and if she still was having fun and she said yes except she is getting bored doing the same routines. We then talked about her improving each time she did them so the next skills she learned would be easy to pick up.

I really came out of it feeling like I didn't have the right answer for her. Her dream is the Olympics, but I know that is a LONG shot, but I would never tell her that.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading.
 
It just hurts your heart to see your child frustrated!! My DD struggled long and hard with bars this year. She worked like a dog and they just took forever to click. I had a super sweet mom of an optional level girl at our gym tell me that all we can do as parents is to fill their minds with positive self talk. To encourage them and support them. So I sought out stories, quotes, etc to read to DD (she is 7). I told her to replace the word "terrible" with "getting better" and "can't" with "I will". We talked about "facing her giants" (not the skill but the obstacle!) with confidence. This may sound totally crazy but I swear it helped. As her attitude changed, her bars got better and better. The parts that used to frustrate her (getting lower scores in practice by her coaches than her teammates) now inspired her. And now she has come SO far. :)
(PS- we didn't talk directly about her bars, but just generally about these things unless SHE brought them up)
 
This is the hardest part of this sport for parents. We just want our kids to be happy and it hurts to see them sad and frustrated. Gymnastics is a sport that focuses on what you do wrong - not what you do right. It is the nature of being "judged."

We can't fix these problems for them. They need to learn how to do the skill, work through the challenege and maintain a mental toughness, composure and positive thinking. What we can do is try to give them the tools. rjb123 has some great suggestions.

I also ask my DD to tell me 2 things that she did well in practice. We talk about how getting down on oneself, having doubts and getting absorbed by their frustration hurts the mental side of sports. I actually have told both my kids that doing something wrong in a sport is often better than doing things right. How lucky they are to know what they need to work on, where their focus should be!! That the need for improvement is the greatest motivator to work hard there is.

For your DD, I would suggest trying to get her to focus on her own small improvements and goals. The journey to like Gabby Douglas is long (and for most, impossible to achieve). So, I really think that while she has BIG goals and that is great, she needs to make smaller goals that will fuel her with inspiration and joy when the gets them.

Then, take her for ice cream!!
 
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Tell her that once she moves to the next level she will never need that evil mill/stride circle again! It is so hard to see them upset but she will understand how her hard work will pay off in the end when her scores go up !
 
She is very frustrated with herself that she hasn't gotten it and is crying that she will never get to be like Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber. Sigh.
But, she is like them! They struggled, cried, felt frustrated, and thought their current struggle was insurmountable. They kept going, and that's why they got where they did.

(I don't know this about them personally, but you hear this from athletes in all sports all the time)
 
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But, she is like them! They struggled, cried, felt frustrated, and thought their current struggle was insurmountable. They kept going, and that's why they got where they did.

(I don't know this about them personally, but you hear this from athletes in all sports all the time)
Very good point!
 
My YG is 9... Competing New L3 after 2 years at Old L4. She is sooooooo close to her Mill Circle. She did a "cheaters" one (or rather a bunch) in practice a few weeks ago, but hasn't been able to even cheat it up since then. It is a skill she struggles on, but I tell her that she will get it. One day, it will just click. She can do it with one finger on her back, so we know she is close.
Then I remind her that after this level, she will never have to do another one!
That makes her REALLY happy. :D
 
My girl has been the Queen of being too hard on herself, overthinking and ultimately being self-defeating. She has come a looong way in the past 6 months thanks to very supportive and patient coaches! Our conversations at home focus a lot on not thinking too hard before a skill - she can overthink the simplest thing and suddenly it becomes harder for her. "Just do it!" is one of her mantras now. I try to avoid discussing specific skills and focus on general discussions of how to manage challenges and frustrations in general - it's a good life lesson, not just a gym lesson!.

Another thing that helped a lot when she felt unsuccessful was watching some video of her early days in gym. Being able to see how shaky her now-solid-skills looked in the beginning really helped her to realize that she IS progressing. It was easy for her to forget how far she has come when she is stalled with a particular skill. Visualizing the progress was a good reminder that, "Yes, you can do it!"
 
Guess what DD got yesterday. She finally got her shoot through and stride circle. I was happy it only took a few days after her breakdown. Now we just need the front hip circle which she tells me she is close too and we are already

Frustration. It will either make a kid give up or motivate the same child to do what needs to be done.
 
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