For Parents How to delicately handle my daughter's goal

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Proud Parent
Jun 20, 2011
Be prepared....long story!

My dd is almost 10 and is currently a level 4. She is currently at a gym that focuses on the girls competing and potentially getting scholarships. They also have TOPs with a handful of girls making it to the national testing. We switched to this gym about a year ago and came from a gym without TOPs. They don't have any elites and I don't know if they ever have.

A friend of ours asked my daughter what her overall goal is and my daughter told her that she wants to compete in the Olympics some day. She is a great gymnast and I've been told she has potential to be a great gymnast, but I know in my heart that the olympics isn't a reality. I want her to have fun, enjoy her sport and have it take her far and maybe a scholarship someday.

I've talked to her about college gymnastics, but I don't want to be a horrible dream crusher and tell her she won't make it to the Olympics. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle setting her expectations?
She will figure out in time, on her own, what her possibilities are. Don't crush her dreams, just encourage them. It she believes in herself, great things will happen. As she progresses through the sport, she will figure out what is really possible or not on her own. And a college scholarship will be an accomplishment she can hang her hat on:)
I wouldn't say anything. Let her enjoy the sport as she experiences it. Her goal will motivate her to be the best gymnast she can be. As she gets older she may see that her reality doesn't match her goal - then she will adjust.

If your daughter was 5 and said she wanted to be president, would you tell her it wasn't likely and to choose another dream? Likely not, so why different here?
I agree with the others. Don't tell her she can't or won't do it. My daughter has the same dream, and we are certainly supporting her in that quest. She might make it - apparently she's talented, and she definitely has determination in spades! - or she might not. But in the meantime she's having an awful lot of fun, and developing some amazing skills, both gymnastic-related and non-gymnastic-related.

Someone once said to me that no-one ever gets to the Olympics without having that dream in the first place.
Well...... I credit my mother, in a way, for my success in two sports. She always told me not to dream too far beyond my accomplishments, kinda like if you're a level 4 it's ok to dream about making it to L7 in two years.... or placing well at L4 state.

Her strategy was well reasoned and wise but in my mind she was out of line, and that's what was so helpful because I had to prove my ability to her, through my accomplishments, just to get her in the car. That car ended up going farther than I expected..... and almost as far as I had dreamed.

Maybe offering your opinion as well as your support would be a good strategy.
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A life lesson I learned from the world outside of gymnastics is never assume you know the extent of someone's abilities and possibilities. Having left school at 16 with no qualifications, when I announced at 18 that I was going back to college to become a lawyer my family thought I was insane. There was no way I was bright enough, people like us didn't go to university, you don't have the right connections.....were all arguments fired at me. Thankfully I ignored them and tried harder to prove that I could do it and fast forward 20 years and I'm now a senior lawyer in one of my regions largest firms. When I look back it still hurts that my mum and dad didn't believe in me. I say nurture their dreams, regardless of how achievable they are.....if you shoot for the stars and miss, so what, at least you can say you tried. Trying and failing is not a failure, the failure is not trying at all!
I agree. My DD has the same dream (not gymnastics though), and we just tell her she'll go as far as her hard work takes her.

I had that dream at 9/10, but was always told by my mother that gymnasts from the UK could never do well on an international stage so there was no future in my gymnastics. We were chatting the other week and she mentioned a girl I used to train with-"that girl who never did anything", meaning she gave up school time for gymnastics so never had an academic or gymnastics career. "That girl" went to the Olympics two or three times I think, commonwealths, worlds, and represented her country on numerous occasions as an elite gymnast, and now has a really good career after presumably going back to school once done with gymnastics. I'd have been happy with that :).

My mum also tells me we shouldn't encourage DD and let her talk about going to the Olympics as it might not happen. Well likely it won't, but it *might*. If we tell her it won't, then it's pretty much guaranteed it won't. And the chances are she might quit, like I did, if that goal is removed.
Never say never! When my daughter was a Level 4 and getting ready for the state meet she announced with great confidence that she wanted to score a 10.0! Trying my hardest to keep a straight face I told her that that was quite a big goal and that I didn't think they actually gave out 10.0's. At the state meet there was a sudden burst of wild applause and people were standing up in the bleachers and I heard that someone just scored a 10.0! Yes, that someone was my daughter! She managed to score a 10.0 on vault and I learned to let her continue to dream BIG! (I know that it was only level 4 and very different than getting a 10.0 in the upper levels, so please hold your commentary as to whether 10.0's should be given out at that level ... please). She has continued to be a really great vaulter at all levels and she also continues to feel confident that she will be in the Olympics too! I tend to think it might just make all that strength training a bit more tolerable when you are focused on such a huge goal. Best of luck to your daughter and let her dream as big as she wants to and be supportive if/when she decides to change her goal in the future.
She will figure it out on her own. Just support her goals and dreams and let her know you are proud of whatever she accomplishes. The way to damage a kid's psyche along the way and make her unsatisfied with her accomplishments is for you or a coach to set goals for her that she eventually falls short of. It's much more damaging for a coach or parent to put the idea in the kid's head that they have more potential than they do than for the kid to come up with it on her own. I know, this happened to me in another sport, I accomplished a lot, but still felt like a failure for a long time based upon unrealistic expectations place on me at a young age by a parent when I showed a lot of potential at a young age.
When my daughter was a Level 4, she wanted to go the Olympics. This year, she'll be competing L9 and within the last year her coach creating an 'elite track' who practice around 30 hrs a week. I don't think she has been formally invited but he's mentioned it to her a few times and she has told me that she absolutely has no desire to ever go elite because (1) She doesn't want to make that much of a commitment. The 20 hrs she practices now leaves her a little time for a life outside of gym and (2) She hates competing anyway and she says that the reason to be an elite is to try to go to the Olympics and she doesn't want to go to the Olympics because she doesn't want that kind of pressure. ;) Her goal is college.

I'm suspicious that most girls are the same way as they move up the levels and realize what it really takes to be an elite.
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DS is planning on being a physician once he finishes his pro sports career. (he hasn't narrowed it down to which sport yet!) He offered to buy me a new house with his signing bonus. DD plans to be a marine biologist after winning gold in the Olympics. I don't see any problem in letting them dream. I just tell them both I will love them no matter what...and I will support them as long as they work hard. There is no value is saying "you're not good enough" at this point. One of my favorite quotes is: "You become successful the moment you start working toward a worthwhile goal". - Charles Carson.
My dd had the same goals. She was almost 12 during the last Olympics and figured it out on her own. When she came to me to see if I thought she would ever make it to the Olympics I had to be honest with her, but I did not criticize her in any way. I kept it to - "I don't think so honey, there are no gyms around here that train elite or Olympic caliber athletes and we can't move and we don't really want you committing that many hours to gymnastics, we think it would be too much for you."

It took her a few weeks to get over it and I never brought up that there was likely not enough time for her to learn the skills and get to that level anyway. But at that point, she had already realized that it wasn't a realistic goal and I wasn't going to lie to her. So I guess I feel like you shouldn't come out and tell her, but if it comes up you can have an honest, frank conversation with her about what it would take and if it makes sense for her and your family.
LOL they all want to compete in the Olympics some day! Just encourage her to do her best and let her know if she makes the Olympics you will still be there to cheer her on.
My younger DD also wants to go to the Olympics. She is a 7 yr old L2 :) I just tell her she can do anything she wants. I do try to encourage her to set smaller goals-getting her mill circle.
My ODD said right before her State Meet that she wanted to get her highest bar score ever. She did, and tied for 1st place!!!
As her Mommy it is my job to tell her she can do anything!!!
My younger DD also wants to go to the Olympics. She is a 7 yr old L2 :) I just tell her she can do anything she wants. I do try to encourage her to set smaller goals-getting her mill circle.
My ODD said right before her State Meet that she wanted to get her highest bar score ever. She did, and tied for 1st place!!!
As her Mommy it is my job to tell her she can do anything!!!

Yup that is our job. You never know she might be the 1 in a million that makes it.
Hey, when I was 9 years old my dream was to be an Olympic swimmer. Unfortunately I had to quit long before I could even swim for my high school, but I'm glad that no one told me I couldn't do it. I now know that I don't have what it takes to be an Olympic anything, but you can't tell that to a kid.
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