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catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
My kid has ADHD, rejection sensitivity dysphoria, depression and at times has battled suicidal ideation. They have been struggling with peers at the gym and I don't know what to do. I pulled them out for a week under mental health issues (in truth it was depression due to teammates segregation of them when my child tried to talk to them). My family tends to be pretty sarcastic and teasing, plus my child doesn't have much of a filter at times and things don't come out the way that they are intended. My kid reached out to one of the teammates to ask why they were giving my kid the silent treatment, and was told that they knew things didn't come out the way it was intended and that my kid should figure it out by their self. Can anyone let me know how to correct a behavior when you don't know what that behavior was? After two weeks of total isolation from team members (not entirely they reached out by text to ask why my kid wasn't in the gym - not how they were doing - just why weren't you there), now the coach has gotten involved. The tone of the communication was very much that it was my child's fault and that team members should stay at home if they are mentally struggling, and they will be sent home if they aren't positive at the gym. I'm trying not to do a knee jerk reaction, but am feeling very triggered. To top it off my child is the oldest and is being bullied by the others around the lower teen mark so my kid has been assumed to be the antagonist not a victim. I'd love to pull out of the situation, but there is no other gym and generally the gym itself and coaches are usually great. AITA? I'm actually pretty hard on my kid with regard to being positive and nice. I would kick my kid's butt if they were the one pushing a teammates belongings to the floor because they were acting out petty revenge. The bottom line is that my kid doesn't feel safe at the gym because of teammates but doesn't want to quit the sport.
 

gymgal

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Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,597
really sorry to hear that your child is having these problems at the gym. Have they had similar problems at school and if so how was it handled? It Sounds like they are old enough (older teen?) to work through decisions with your input. If these teammates had been friends in the past and it is a singular incident that has caused this, perhaps getting the parents involved to see exactly what triggered the change, having the kids over to your house or a neutral site to hash it out, etc.
If it is more of an ongoing problem, I would have a heart to heart with them as to what is more important to them - gym vs mental health. Life is too short to spend so much of your time in a place (physically and mentally) that makes you feel miserable. They may choose gym but then they have to go in with a different attitude - they are there because they love the sport and they are not going to worry about goes on around them.
 

PreciousJ

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Feb 16, 2021
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Life is too short to spend so much of your time in a place (physically and mentally) that makes you feel miserable.
Very wise words. I read the OP's initial post and immediately thought the same thing.

I'm so sorry your child is not feeling safe and supported, especially by teammates, at gym. This is tough on so many levels. Have you been in contact with a therapist or other mental health professional for advice as well? I'd be concerned that because your child loves the sport, that possibly walking away from it (due to these issues) may also be harmful in certain ways.
 

3cats

Proud Parent
Nov 5, 2018
121
43
I am so sorry to hear they are struggling. As parents we all want to go in there and fix these issues to help a child and teach them that they are worth fighting for. And your child is. My take is that in this particular place it sounds like the issues are systematic and not just related to the other kids, but maybe the staff and other adults in the room are setting the tone.

If your child wants to stick with this program and is ready to really get their hands dirty and try to change minds then be prepared for a long fight. Usually finding just one other child who they can spend time with one on one and outside of the environment can help foster belonging and maybe convince others to back down.

My advice is maybe if there isn't another gymnastics facility around that there is another sport or activity where your they will find close connections with good people. I can't imagine having to go to a place and be fake happy just so others feel more comfortable. It shows no grace towards others.

I hate this advice bc it feels like giving up and letting them win. But sometimes mental health needs to be coddled and maybe your child is in a place where helping them stretch their wings and find new talents, surrounded by better people, be the more beneficial course of action.
 

catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
Thanks for the reply. My kid is a mid-teenager. They have occasionally had issues at school over the years but it has always blown over, but it has been repeated over the past year at the gym. I've tried to advise them about being the bigger person and just letting it go, but it has been grinding my child down over the year and I've hit a bit of a wall with it. The coach has had talks with them before and there will be a period of calm before it starts again until it blows up eventually.
The gym used to contribute to their mental health so much, currently they want to continue. I've mentioned that these other kids aren't likely to continue for more than three years longer even if she doesn't go away to school (no one in our area seems to continue beyond high school) but three years can feel like forever to a teenager. Regrettably there is a fair bit of downtime in between taking turns on equipment because it is a small facility. I think if they were kept to busy to socialize it would be easier. Plus the group has a greater diversity in ages (11-15) because there aren't many at that level which makes it tough. I'm beginning to understand why there are so many that quit before my child's age, a few of them have commented it was because of the drama/attitudes that they left.
 

catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
Very wise words. I read the OP's initial post and immediately thought the same thing.

I'm so sorry your child is not feeling safe and supported, especially by teammates, at gym. This is tough on so many levels. Have you been in contact with a therapist or other mental health professional for advice as well? I'd be concerned that because your child loves the sport, that possibly walking away from it (due to these issues) may also be harmful in certain ways.
No I haven't taken them to therapy, but perhaps it is time to go that route. It may even help identify how communication is going wrong, and how to pick up on the non-verbal cues a bit better. The environment has generally been good, but I think it's been a while since they've had more that one or two athletes at the upper level/age group. I certainly don't want to pay thousands of dollars each year for my kid to develop low self esteem.
 

catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
My advice is maybe if there isn't another gymnastics facility around that there is another sport or activity where your they will find close connections with good people. I can't imagine having to go to a place and be fake happy just so others feel more comfortable. It shows no grace towards others.
I've been trying to avoid pronouns to prevent anyone who might be on here from their gym from figuring out who it is, but it's getting cumbersome, lol. She's tried other sports and is currently doing track as well but her heart is in gymnastics. I think what upsets me the most is that she thought it was a place where she would be accepted faults and all, but I guess there never really is a place like that!
 

rlm's mom

Proud Parent
Aug 21, 2021
278
39
Sounds like your DD could do with some emotional help. Maybe also someone who can teach her healthy relationships etc. I’m not blaming your DD but a low self esteem may be what is causing her to react the way she does. It’s a difficult cycle. If your DD is going to therapy, you see a change but her team-mates are still hostile, I would consider looking for another gym in your area.
 
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tryagain

New Member
Feb 16, 2022
5
43
I think if my teen daughter struggled with suicidal ideation, I would definitely try therapy. I don't know what the situation is in the gym precisely, but I would also like to float the idea that maybe the other children are getting vibes of your daughter's struggles and simply don't know how to react. It takes a lot of maturity to become comfortable around someone who struggles with depression and I would not be surprised of this were beyond most pre-teens or young teens. Of course, on the end, you need to do what is best for your daughter, regardless of whether the other children's behaviour is understandable or not.
 

catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
but I would also like to float the idea that maybe the other children are getting vibes of your daughter's struggles and simply don't know how to react. It takes a lot of maturity to become comfortable around someone who struggles with depression and I would not be surprised of this were beyond most pre-teens or young teens.
Thanks, I hadn't considered this, but that is possible. Mostly it has blown over for now, and the suicidal ideation has not been in recent years, I am just worried it might get to that point again (I could have articulated that better). She actually took a break from gymnastics to concentrate on track (very limited season where we live) and has found a lot of joy in that as well. She does okay at track but isn't top of the heap which is great for her growth as she doesn't have the pressure to achieve at the same level too.

Thank you to all who replied, the support is fantastic.
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,379
62
Nearest gym of the appropriate level is 140 miles away!
That‘s a tough one.

Might be time to move on to a different sport. No one should stay in a abusive environment. Unfortunately the person being abused is too far in it to leave.

If it were my kid and therapy couldn’t give her the strength or coping skills to deal I would pull her. I hope she works it out.
 
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mom2gymmie

New Member
Apr 9, 2022
6
43
Your dd sounds a lot like mine. Mine is 13 and struggled w a lot of the same things. Disordered eating, depression, anxiety, possible ADHD or autism, SH, etc. She has struggled a lot at gym in particular with making connections and is struggling with bullying there. She seems to understand social cues to me, and to her, but they all seems to notice something. I dont have many suggestions except therapy for sure.Sorry you are going thru this too
 
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gymjunkie

Coach
Proud Parent
Judge
Sep 9, 2013
746
I'm not sure I have great advice because every situation is a dynamic one and it's impossible to understand all of the dynamics at play. That being said, I will share my daughter's past situation in case it helps. My daughter had always had gym friends as her only friends. That worked great for years because she trained so many hours starting so young, and she had awesome teammates. She changed gyms in her mid-teens and clicked very well with the new coaches but did not connect with her teammates. They were not mean to her on a daily basis, just never made her feel especially included. Too often one of them would toss a mean comment at her, but there was no organized bullying going on. Still, my kid was miserable. She was spending close to 30 hours/week at a place where she had no friends (and she didn't have time to see her friends from the former gym). She ended up participating in some non-gymnastics activities where she quickly made friends (just once/week through her church youth group). For the first time in her life, her "besties" were not gymnasts. They came to her meets and even asked her to take them to open gym with her one time because they wanted her to try to teach them some skills. She suddenly did not care that her teammates were cold to her.

It did not surprise me that as soon as she got her confidence back through friends outside of gym, suddenly her teammates wanted to be her friends. She was now getting invited to outside outings with the very girls who had been excluding her for a year. She started coming home from practice for the first time reporting that she could see positive attributes of the girls who had only shown her their nasty side before (luckily she's not a fool, she still remembers when they were not so nice, lol). She started getting compliments from them instead of mean comments. She's now had a solid year of only positive experiences with these girls after a solid year of negative experiences. I guess the other girls didn't find her initial lack of (social) confidence all that attractive and did not want her as a friend. Once she had her own friends, she came across as confident and was suddenly attractive to them as a potential friend. Let's face it, sometimes kids do that (so do adults in some environments).

So again, no advice, because I don't know if my daughter's situation applies to your daughter's, but maybe focusing on her friends outside of the gym from track or elsewhere might help with the girl situation inside the gym.
 

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,379
62
@gymjunkie I read a book a long time ago about dealing with mean girls.

And my biggest take away was to make sure my daughter had friends in different places. When you only have one thing in your life if that’s not going well then your whole world is not glong well. If have few things in your life then no one thing is everything.
My experience is that’s 100 per cent true. When my girl had a rough first year in middle school her gymmies were there for her. And then as she settled into middle school a couple of her close gymmie friends moved to a different gym.
That she had middle school friends and activities it lessened the sting of the loss
 

txgymfan

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Fan
Sep 4, 2008
3,533
Houston
“And my biggest take away was to make sure my daughter had friends in different places. When you only have one thing in your life if that’s not going well then your whole world is not glong well. If have few things in your life then no one thing is everything”
This is crucial advice for everyone. It applies to gymnasts and adults. I share it whenever it’s appropriate. I’ve never been the person with the most friends but I’ve always had friends from different parts of my life.

When one group isn’t clicking then others become more important. Jobs change, volunteer groups change, people get married, have children and move away. You never know who will step up and become more important. During the pandemic, the mods of CB were and continue to be a huge but unconventional source of support to me. I have one local friend who knows absolutely none of my other friends and I don’t know hers. We always know that we can share things with each other that can’t and won’t be repeated.

So yes, encourage your gymnasts and remember yourselves to cultivate a variety of friendships.
 

catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
Your dd sounds a lot like mine. Mine is 13 and struggled w a lot of the same things. Disordered eating, depression, anxiety, possible ADHD or autism, SH, etc. She has struggled a lot at gym in particular with making connections and is struggling with bullying there. She seems to understand social cues to me, and to her, but they all seems to notice something. I dont have many suggestions except therapy for sure.Sorry you are going thru this too
Yes, very similar I think I just replied to your daughter on another thread! I hope that she is doing okay. I've always tried to praise my daughter's behavior at gym events that has nothing to do with her performance, like cheering for and befriending girls from other teams as that's often not seen at some of the competitions. It is a bit draining repeating "be the bigger person" and "be the example for them to emulate" all the time, ha ha. In the end, I'm proud of my DD's accomplishments but I'm more proud if she's a good person. Sending hugs and support!
 

catchingupmom

Proud Parent
May 4, 2022
24
So again, no advice, because I don't know if my daughter's situation applies to your daughter's, but maybe focusing on her friends outside of the gym from track or elsewhere might help with the girl situation inside the gym.
No advice is good advice sometimes. I often just need to hear that we are not alone in this experience. Thank you for sharing your story, it helps.
 
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