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AlexandraU16

Proud Parent
Aug 31, 2021
26
30
Hi everyone I am wondering if anyone has found themself in a similar position to the one I am currently in and how they have managed it:
I have two girls currently in gymnastics. It is very early days yet- we have only been consistently going to classes for a few months now (started the session back in September but missed all of October and most of November due to an accident that put my husband in the hospital for a month).
My oldest just turned seven and is in the beginners recreational class (5-7 year olds) and my younger daughter just turned four and is in a preschool class for 3-4 year olds.

The dynamic that is developing that is only just beginning to be an issue but I can see how it could become increasingly problematic is this:
My oldest daughter is obsessed with gymnastics. Loves going, asks everyday when gymnastics day is, loves to go downstairs to practice at home, asks to watch YouTube videos of gymnastics all the time, talks about it frequently etc. However, when I say she has no natural talent, I don’t mean she just isn’t particularly impressive, I mean she’s particularly not good! She is a very tall and heavier child (not fat at all just very dense) who has always amazed us with her lack of body awareness and kinesthetic ability. She is flexible and almost has her splits and can do a decent bridge and has her backward roll but has struggled even with cartwheels and looks soooo awkward on the beam etc. I think she is somewhat aware as the watches the girls 1-2 years younger in her class perform things with ease that she isn’t close to being able to do and move up levels etc.

My younger daughter is a different story. She likes gymnastics, is always happy to go and looks like she’s having a blast when she’s there, but certainly does not eat, sleep and breathe gymnastics. However…girl is one insane ball of muscular power. She came out of the womb with massively muscular calves and biceps! Her jumps are powerful, she practically has her pullovers on her own, and darts over cones on balance beams like she’s walking on a flat floor. She is very athletically built and seems to learn skills pretty quickly. I don’t know the process at our gym for advancing to preterm/team (they seem to be one of those gyms that doesn’t really disclose their process) but I wouldn’t be too surprised if in a year or two she is nudged that direction whereas I would be very surprised if my older daughter even ever moves up a level in the recreational program.

Already my older daughter is sensing her younger sister’s more natural ability and seems saddened and a pinch jealous. It’s especially tragic given their difference in desire to do this sport. I can only imagine this will become more intense as my younger daughter improves and potentially bypasses her older sister’s level. Has anyone been in this situation? How did you manage the hurt feelings and strained sibling dynamic? Would it be better to encourage my older daughter to try out other activities she may fall in love with so that maybe gymnastics will fade in importance to her? How would you handle this?
Sorry for the long rant. I want to handle it sensitively while still helping each girl to reach her potential.
 
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NutterButter

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Jan 24, 2013
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Uff. The words you use to describe your two very young children is the most troubling factor here - not the real or perceived talent in gymnastics. If you want to be most sensitive to each kid, stop the comparisons. You refer to a 7 year old as being 'not good' and go into perceived body deficits while praising your younger one. Kids develop at different rates and you are so early in the gymnastics journey to know what the future holds for either of them in the sport. It's OK for them to be at different places. Don't introduce your own notions of what you believe a 'successful' gymnast looks like. Focus on the fun and the fact that they enjoy what they are doing.
 

katrid11

Proud Parent
Sep 1, 2020
80
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I would remind myself that each child in gymnastics has their own path. If your 7 yr old is eating and breathing gymnastics - let her. Encourage her to experience it the way SHE will. It will be different than how your younger daughter experiences gymnastics. I would NOT push a child out of a sport just b/c they don't exhibit the exact body, energy, and stereotypical type.

If your older daughter is showing signs of jealousy - remind her that she will learn things at a different pace than every other child. Just as your younger one will. Nothing wrong or bad about that. Remember this should be for fun and enjoyment - not to win a college scholarship or go to the Olympics.

FWIW I have seen several gymnasts that are not "typical gymnast" bodies and those that were not "graceful & strong" as kids doing quite well as teens because they learned to be determined, hard working and persevere while enjoying themselves.
 

AlexandraU16

Proud Parent
Aug 31, 2021
26
30
Uff. The words you use to describe your two very young children is the most troubling factor here - not the real or perceived talent in gymnastics. If you want to be most sensitive to each kid, stop the comparisons. You refer to a 7 year old as being 'not good' and go into perceived body deficits while praising your younger one. Kids develop at different rates and you are so early in the gymnastics journey to know what the future holds for either of them in the sport. It's OK for them to be at different places. Don't introduce your own notions of what you believe a 'successful' gymnast looks like. Focus on the fun and the fact that they enjoy what they are doing.
I am certainly not attempting to compare them. My older daughter has zero “body deficits”. She is absolutely fine the way she is- it’s just simple fact that she is tall and larger than her more petite sister. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. It is true however that gymnastics are typically harder for kids with more length to spin around the bars and more weight to pull up over them etc.
I am not trying to compare them. I am worried that SHE is comparing herself to her sister and simply wanting advice on how to handle a situation where a girl, who has so many amazing attributes, but is unlikely to go far in gymnastics besides enjoying it at the recreational level, wants to be a gymnastics star with all her heart but her sister who doesn’t have the same desire just seems to pick up on the skills easier.
I can remember being a kid and how something like this would have really hurt my heart and made me feel very insecure.
I used maybe more harsh and blunt language trying to explain the situation to other parents here but would never speak to my daughter in a way to make her feel inferior. She is an amazing kid and she knows we think so. But I’ll take your advice to heart and be careful not to project any kinds of comparisons to them. I don’t think I have but will for sure be hyper aware of it going forward.
I just see this situation unfolding already despite my attempts to assure them that we are there to learn and have fun and make friends-not to be “the best” or little gymnastics prodigies.
My eldest is incredibly sensitive and I just want to try to avoid heartache for her.
I would remind myself that each child in gymnastics has their own path. If your 7 yr old is eating and breathing gymnastics - let her. Encourage her to experience it the way SHE will. It will be different than how your younger daughter experiences gymnastics. I would NOT push a child out of a sport just b/c they don't exhibit the exact body, energy, and stereotypical type.

If your older daughter is showing signs of jealousy - remind her that she will learn things at a different pace than every other child. Just as your younger one will. Nothing wrong or bad about that. Remember this should be for fun and enjoyment - not to win a college scholarship or go to the Olympics.

FWIW I have seen several gymnasts that are not "typical gymnast" bodies and those that were not "graceful & strong" as kids doing quite well as teens because they learned to be determined, hard working and persevere while enjoying themselves.
thanks so much! I am trying to encourage her and remind her that she is there to learn, to work hard for goals, and mostly to just have an absolute blast. Most of the time she is fine but little “jealous shadows” pass over her face every once in a while when she and her sister are tumbling around in the living room etc.
She isn’t even aware that her body isn’t typical of most gymnasts at this point and I intend to not let that be something she worries about for as long as possible. She is strong and capable and has incredible work ethic so I have no doubt she will make great strides and reach many of her own goals. I just hate to see that comparison train already trying to steal bits of her joy with this sport.
I definitely did not intend to make anything about her body sound bad as previous poster commented. It’s just different from her sister’s and I know insecurities can start early and easily and run deep.
 

JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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This is a great question and conversation! I can't wait to see more responses on this. I have 3 kids all doing gymnastics... thought I would have to deal with this eventually... still have not... they all seem to know exactly where they are at and are not concerned at all who is better than the other.

How would you handle this?

I'm pretty short on this type of stuff... so here goes...

Just deal with it as it happens... don't worry... just talk about things when it is time.
 
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AlexandraU16

Proud Parent
Aug 31, 2021
26
30
This is a great question and conversation! I can't wait to see more responses on this. I have 3 kids all doing gymnastics... thought I would have to deal with this eventually... still have not... they all seem to know exactly where they are at and are not concerned at all who is better than the other.



I'm pretty short on this type of stuff... so here goes...

Just deal with it as it happens... don't worry... just talk about things when it is time.
Thanks! I think it’s happening already a little due to my oldest having a very sensitive personality and perfectionist tendencies. She is one of those kids who feels like a failure if she doesn’t do something exactly right on the first attempt. So I’m hoping gymnastics will help her learn about working hard for gradual improvements and finding fulfillment and joy in progress instead of perfection. Here’s hoping.
 

MILgymFAM

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Feb 6, 2014
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Gymnastics was a perfect outlet for my perfectionists- they both learned to fail, try harder, fail again, and still find a way to squeeze all the joy out of it. My girls eventually ended up competing against each other, and I worried that there would be negative effects on their relationship, but they were each other’s biggest cheerleaders. I think focusing them on their individual paths and dealing with negative emotions as they come up is the best way to handle it- never borrow problems you don’t already own, kwim? When your older daughter shows jealousy, maybe talk to her about how you understand her feelings, but redirect her to something she is doing great at- even if it’s being hard-working or a great teammate vs skill successes. I also have to say that my girls both danced together, and in both activities my younger daughter had/has the *completely* “wrong” body type. She went on to be a state champ in gym and in a professional company for dance- never assume that they cannot achieve because of things outside their control.

If it ever comes to nudging one of them to quit (and I don’t see any reason for that here), I would be nudging the younger one. Being good isn’t a good reason to participate alone- they have to enjoy it (and eventually have that passion once it gets to a certain point). I’d take the passionate hard worker over the disinterested natural seven days a week.
 

AlexandraU16

Proud Parent
Aug 31, 2021
26
30
Gymnastics was a perfect outlet for my perfectionists- they both learned to fail, try harder, fail again, and still find a way to squeeze all the joy out of it. My girls eventually ended up competing against each other, and I worried that there would be negative effects on their relationship, but they were each other’s biggest cheerleaders. I think focusing them on their individual paths and dealing with negative emotions as they come up is the best way to handle it- never borrow problems you don’t already own, kwim? When your older daughter shows jealousy, maybe talk to her about how you understand her feelings, but redirect her to something she is doing great at- even if it’s being hard-working or a great teammate vs skill successes. I also have to say that my girls both danced together, and in both activities my younger daughter had/has the *completely* “wrong” body type. She went on to be a state champ in gym and in a professional company for dance- never assume that they cannot achieve because of things outside their control.

If it ever comes to nudging one of them to quit (and I don’t see any reason for that here), I would be nudging the younger one. Being good isn’t a good reason to participate alone- they have to enjoy it (and eventually have that passion once it gets to a certain point). I’d take the passionate hard worker over the disinterested natural seven days a week.
That’s a great perspective! It is truly my hope that gymnastics will help her learn to curb that perfectionism and learn to see the benefit of “failure”. She’s already showing improvement in her attitude. She used to get so upset with herself if she fell off the beam and now she just shakes it off and gets back up and that right there is what it’s all about right?
I will let her do gymnastics as long as she wants. I just hope she’ll continue to love it and not let any insecurities or competitive issues put a damper on it.
And I agree about the disinterest- my younger daughter definitely isn’t disinterested at all but she just isn’t over the top passionate like my older one. But if she ever expresses a desire not to go any more I will for sure let her stop- aptitude or not!
 
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RTT2

Proud Parent
Oct 9, 2015
863
The thing with gymnastics is that every kid is on their own journey working at their own pace. I can totally understand that there may be a lot of opportunity for sibling rivalry in this situation, but I think if you encourage your older daughter to focus on her own progress and to enjoy her journey that may help. Avoid ever comparing their skills, body type, or natural ability. Plenty of kids with natural ability don't do much with it, while a gritty, driven kid may surprise you with just how far they go. Good luck!
 

littlebearmum

Proud Parent
Oct 28, 2019
9
51
Gymnastics is a big enough sport that there is room for all kids to pursue a passion. Finding the right gym and the right program to nurture a child is the key. I can't speak to the sibling rivalry part because my 2 daughters have never really been interested in the same things. What I can speak to is the child who is passionate about gymnastics but doesn't have the same trajectory in the sport as many kids. My 9 year old eats and breaths gymnastics. We found a gym with coaches who will work with any kid regardless of natural ability. She is in an Xcel program and is in her 4th year on a competitive team and just moved up to Gold. She hasn't moved up as fast as some kids. She is not likely to stand on the top of the AA podium but she loves training, her teammates, her coaches, and the competitions. We celebrate HER victories. She had a rough first meet of the season - three falls on beam and the lowest scores she has ever received. She came back 2 weeks later with a 4 point jump in her scores and placed on one event. I was more proud of her than I have ever been because I know how hard she worked.

As a gym parent, the most important rule is never compare your child to anyone else (including a sibling). Every child's journey is unique from the rate they get skills, to overcoming mental blocks, to medals and scores. Comparison sucks any joy out of the sport and drives families out in just a season or two. For your older daughter, let her dream. She may surprise you with how far she goes in the sport on hard work and determination!
 

rlm's mom

Proud Parent
Aug 21, 2021
308
39
Hi I have 3 girls in gymnastics so definitely can relate! I've seen first-hand how different kids take different journeys. When DD1 started out i thought she was extremely talented and just had an eye for detail and perfection. She moved pretty quickly through the levels and is now a level 10. DD2 was more awkward in her skills when she started out and I wasn't sure if I had made the right decision to put her into gymnastics, but within a few months she was on par with what DD1 did at her age. She gained a tremendous amount of body awareness and technique at around age 8 which helped a lot. DD2 actually did better through most JO levels. I tried to divert their attention away from each other, look only at what you are doing and how you can improve. DD1 has been excelling at level 10 so far. DD2 has had some setbacks, with level 9 cut short, and injury last year plus a huge growth spurt which totally changed the way her body looks and feels. She is hoping for a solid level 10 season this year. My girls don't really compare themselves to each other, they know they have each had different paths and are happy with theirs.
My youngest is quite an age gap so i don't see much opportunity to compare, especially since my older ones went to a more chilled gym when they were lower jo levels.
Hope your daughters can each be happy with their own journey! Just remember every gymnasts strengths, body and attitudes change multiple times over the journey, if your daughter enjoys it now she may find herself a pro suddenly in a year's time!
 
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AlexandraU16

Proud Parent
Aug 31, 2021
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30
Hi I have 3 girls in gymnastics so definitely can relate! I've seen first-hand how different kids take different journeys. When DD1 started out i thought she was extremely talented and just had an eye for detail and perfection. She moved pretty quickly through the levels and is now a level 10. DD2 was more awkward in her skills when she started out and I wasn't sure if I had made the right decision to put her into gymnastics, but within a few months she was on par with what DD1 did at her age. She gained a tremendous amount of body awareness and technique at around age 8 which helped a lot. DD2 actually did better through most JO levels. I tried to divert their attention away from each other, look only at what you are doing and how you can improve. DD1 has been excelling at level 10 so far. DD2 has had some setbacks, with level 9 cut short, and injury last year plus a huge growth spurt which totally changed the way her body looks and feels. She is hoping for a solid level 10 season this year. My girls don't really compare themselves to each other, they know they have each had different paths and are happy with theirs.
My youngest is quite an age gap so i don't see much opportunity to compare, especially since my older ones went to a more chilled gym when they were lower jo levels.
Hope your daughters can each be happy with their own journey! Just remember every gymnasts strengths, body and attitudes change multiple times over the journey, if your daughter enjoys it now she may find herself a pro suddenly in a year's time!
Thank you so much that’s so helpful. Navigating sister relationships can be tricky even when you don’t factor in gymnastics (we have a third girl too but she’s only 1) and the idea of working to keep them focused on their own journeys is so helpful. For all I know my younger daughter may lose interest and pick up other activities or my older could be like your second and make huge progress- no crystal balls right?!
 

txgymfan

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Sep 4, 2008
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Sibling issues aside, I would encourage them both to try other activities and interests now, before the hours and intensity increase. Have them pick (or you pick) another sport and maybe a non athletic interest to try. Try a low key art class or science class, swiming is a safety skill and summer swim team is less pressure.
 

AlexandraU16

Proud Parent
Aug 31, 2021
26
30
Sibling issues aside, I would encourage them both to try other activities and interests now, before the hours and intensity increase. Have them pick (or you pick) another sport and maybe a non athletic interest to try. Try a low key art class or science class, swim lessons are a safety skill and summer swim team is less pressure.
Great feedback thanks! They have both taken a few rounds of swim, my eldest daughter takes knitting classes and is about to start piano, and they both go to jiu jitsu with their dad in addition to a forest school twice a week. They’re homeschooled so we have a good bit of time for trying out interests. We definitely intend to let them keep exploring what’s out there.
 

gymgal

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Aug 22, 2008
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Lots of good pieces of advice already. If you have the resources and time, I would also recommend putting both in other activities so that they can see there are other options out there. They may both choose to stick with gymnastics, but if they don't down the line, they have been exposed to other sports/activities they might want to try again. As for gymnastics, be sure you are in a gym that has a variety of options like in house teams, xcel, JO, tumbling classes, cheer, etc. That way there is a place for both of them to pursue the sport at their own level. As for general sibling comparisons, just keep reinforcing that they have their own journeys and all that matters is that each is having fun and wanting to continue.
 

ReluctantGymMom

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May 11, 2020
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I think it’s hard to compare the physical bodies of a just turned 4 year old and a 7 year old. Up to 4.5, my daughter was on the lower end of the height and weight %, she legit looked like a tiny toddler, very “petite”. Then bam! Solid muscle. She is exactly what I would describe as -dense-. She’s average height, but she is really freaking heavy. Her best event is bars, because she’s strong, so nah, that’s no issue carrying more weight around a bar, if the ratio of weight to strength is right.

Gymnastics doesn’t have an ideal body size or shape. At most, hitting a certain height becomes problematic but we have 5”7 girls that are doing just fine so I’m sure your 7 year old will be fine being tall for many more years :)

3-4 year olds also don’t really have the same grasp of perfection and failure as a 7 year old. Why wouldn’t she run on the beam jumping over the cones? There’s literally no concept stopping her from doing so. A 7 year old might stop and think “I could fall and get hurt”.

All in all… it’s recreational and preschool classes. They should be working on different things and there’s nothing for one to be jealous of the other one over - it should just be an hour or two of the week of fun for both.
 

Tmacs

Proud Parent
Feb 19, 2019
224
My daughters do different activities but I have had to navigate jealousy. The gymnast gets lots of medals and praises... as a perfectionist, she's also really organized and good at school. The other likes team sports that don't have the invidual showcasing like gymnastics. Even though it's her choice, it's still very hard when sister gets another first either in gym or some school competition. I just keep highlighting her strengths and encourage her to try all kinds of activities. She's going to find her niche. I remind her that I tried a whole bunch of sports, music, drama etc. in elementary and then didn't start really "excelling" until high school.
 

Gymbletot

Proud Parent
Nov 28, 2021
33
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I've only got one in gymnastics but definitely have to manage an older sibling inclined to be a bit jealous sometimes.

Big sister is 6, little brother is 4 - 18 months between them. Big sister finds it really hard if he is good at anything, and worries about him being better than her. She has a very competitive personality and we have to manage her with that - for example, she's doing well with her reading at school, but her brother is doing extra well and she is horrified that he might catch up with her.

We are just trying to channel her natural competitiveness in a constructive way - trying to get her to focus on challenging herself and not looking around for comparisons. In both gymnastics and swimming, she seems quite able to apply this - I don't know to what extent she would keep that up if little brother intruded on her turf though! (He does swim too but he is still a beginner so no threat!)
 
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Pineapple_Lump

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Judge
Jan 31, 2008
1,180
My oldest daughter is obsessed with gymnastics. Loves going, asks everyday when gymnastics day is, loves to go downstairs to practice at home, asks to watch YouTube videos of gymnastics all the time, talks about it frequently etc.
I can't really answer your question better than others, but if she love gymnastics so much, why don't you add an extra class or two for her per week - along with ensuring she has others activities to do.
 
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