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gymisforeveryone

Coach
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
901
We are having a parent meeting next week. We are of course going to talk about the logistics of the upcoming competition season, but we have time for other discussion too.

The girls in my two practice groups are 11-18 years old and are competing optional levels or at least entering optionals next season. The youngest ones are in 5th or 6th grade and the oldest is High School senior. So there is a pretty wide age range and huge differences in maturity level etc.

Most of the older girls are going through a lot at the moment. Growth spurts, difficulties at school, heartaches, boys, time management issues, changing interest and friends. They are competing harder skills, harder levels, more demanding move up criteria, struggle and stress about getting into National Team or other training groups... It's getting pretty overwhelming.

And as a side note, just today I heard that the role model of this group of girls, the oldest one of them decided to retire now that she is graduated and wants to have time to do things like work, travel, find out what her interests are besides gymnastics and have a normal social life. She was the heart of the group, the one who set up the standard of high work ethic, showed everyone how far you can actually go even if you come from an unknown club. I hope that her leaving is not going to change the group dynamics dramatically.

I was just wondering what should we discuss with the parents. I would want to touch the topic of the hardness and harshness of this time for their motivation to do sports and being able to handle it all. One of my older girls even ended up getting anxiety disorder and mild depression due to the mixture of wanting to do well in school and gym and trying to handle the breakup with her boyfriend at the same time and not being able to talk about it at home or gym. I don't want my younger girls end up in a situation like that. I would want to make it crystal clear that if they have to repeatedly sacrifice sleep, school work and important social events they should take some days off occasionally.

These teenage years are so hard. Hardly any days go by without me having a one-on-one conversation with a teary eyed gymnast or two. I feel like a full time wanna be psychologist. I would want the parents to understand how much we trying to work though all the issues they are having. The girls are pretty much all perfectionists and seem to take everything so seriously. I'm worried that they are putting unhealthy amounts of pressure on themselves.

If you are or if you were a parent of a tween or teen, what would you like to discuss with the coach and other parents?
 

sce

Proud Parent
Mar 11, 2014
6,149
I think you should touch on the pressure of the sport and how the kids put more pressure on themselves. Emphasize that you want them to be kids /teens first, to keep family ad school above gym. Also let them know that the girls can share when they are having a hard time in any area. You understand that effects them in the gym too and thus want to know so you can adjust expectations in the gym accordingly. As well, occasionally, missing a practice to study or complete a school project is not the end of the world. If they start to miss a lot then you will discuss it with the child and/or parent as appropriate. Healthy people is your long-term goal for all of them
 
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