For Parents Parents of high level gymnasts

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flipnastic

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Hi, all!
My daughter is a very young gymnast… Four years old level two. She does seem to be very talented… We has been told this by many coaches. Also, I was a competitive gymnast and coached gymnastics in college, so I recognized very early that she had potential to be a good gymnast, and to take it as far as she wants… Whether that means she will quit next year, and junior high or compete through college, Who knows! I just want her to have fun! But, I also want to provide her with whatever resources/support she needs to make it the most enjoyable experience as possible.

So, with that said… I thought it would be a fun conversation topic that might be useful to me, or other parents of young gymnast :) When you're gymnasts were younger, what do you feel you did well as a parent, or what do you wish you would have done a little different? What were some of your favorite moments, and what were some of your least favorite moments?
 

auswi

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So mine only started a rec class at 8 1/2 & now is elite track so no help here☺
She was doing dance at 5, & until she was 10 a heap of different sportso I guess my advice is don't overwork her at such a young age- let her participate in other activities too.
 

cbifoja

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My child is only an L8 so not really "high" level but in our area she is fairly young for her level so I'll just share my answers to your questions based on my experience. I know you'll get lots of great answers from more knowledgeable parents than me!

What I did well is to step back and allow her coach to take the reigns. That meant USUALLY biting my tongue when I didn't agree but asking questions when I didn't understand. I'm fortunate to have a friendly relationship with DD's HC that allowed me the ability to do this.

I allowed DD to attend camps as she wanted. Some summers she went, but if she didn't ask, I didn't beg to spend ~$1K! Same for open gyms, even at other gyms. When she wanted to go, she went. I gave her open access to gym time until she stopped asking for more, which for my DD was at 20 hours.

I listened to advice but them made decisions based on my own parenting strategy and my child. As you hang out here, you will find some pretty strong opinions about the danger of parents staying during practice. However, my child had some unique issues that made it very important to her that I stay. Had I listened to the overwhelming posts on CB about not staying, I believe she would have left the sport a couple of years ago.

Mistakes I made....I wish I would have insisted that DD take dance class. She lacks artistry and I wish I had ignored all of the tears and complaints and made her stay. But who knows, that may have been the wrong call too!

Another mistake was purchasing a home bar. My DD loved and still loves bars. It is her favorite event. Even though she quickly outgrew it, she would still "experiment" on it and probably picked up some bad habits. I know HC was NOT thrilled when DD told her about her awesome new Christmas present! She also has mats and a floor beam but HC didn't mind so much about those.

The best moments are always when she gets that next big skill. She doesn't care too much about awards, but man is she motivated in skill acquisition. And yes, winning first is still nice and every time DD does it, it's awesome and I'm happy but I find that is more about me and my ego than about her. She just smiles and is happy but quickly shrugs it off.

The worst part is training with girls several years older. My DD is very social but because of age, is frequently excluded from get togethers. This hurts her so much and therefore hurts me. But none of the girls her age include her in their get togethers because they've never been teammates with her so they don't really "know" her. It totally sucks being in that position.

Some of the girls and sometimes even parents, sometimes make what feels like passive aggressive remarks about DD that I can't tell if I'm being hypersensitive or if they're being unkind. Example, one parent watched DD get a skill that their daughter who is 5 years older than mine was working on. The parent dismissed my child's accomplishment by saying something like "it's all well and good when you're a little stick, but try it when you're actually a woman and see how it goes." I didn't really know what to say. And DD has told me that some of the girls on her team will make some snide remarks under their breath, but thankfully, that's rare. When it happens, I believe it's just out of weeks of frustration, sort of like a vent.

So there ya go! Way longer than I meant to type, but what a wonderful trip down memory lane.
 

flipnastic

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So mine only started a rec class at 8 1/2 & now is elite track so no help here☺
She was doing dance at 5, & until she was 10 a heap of different sportso I guess my advice is don't overwork her at such a young age- let her participate in other activities too.


Thank you so much for your responses! I was afraid I would come off as bragging, so I was hesitant to post this! I just love hearing successful stories of other families who have been in my shoes or similar shoes:)

That is super cool that your little girl started at eight years old and is now competing elite!!! I bet that was quite a journey!
 

flipnastic

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My child is only an L8 so not really "high" level but in our area she is fairly young for her level so I'll just share my answers to your questions based on my experience. I know you'll get lots of great answers from more knowledgeable parents than me!

What I did well is to step back and allow her coach to take the reigns. That meant USUALLY biting my tongue when I didn't agree but asking questions when I didn't understand. I'm fortunate to have a friendly relationship with DD's HC that allowed me the ability to do this.

I allowed DD to attend camps as she wanted. Some summers she went, but if she didn't ask, I didn't beg to spend ~$1K! Same for open gyms, even at other gyms. When she wanted to go, she went. I gave her open access to gym time until she stopped asking for more, which for my DD was at 20 hours.

I listened to advice but them made decisions based on my own parenting strategy and my child. As you hang out here, you will find some pretty strong opinions about the danger of parents staying during practice. However, my child had some unique issues that made it very important to her that I stay. Had I listened to the overwhelming posts on CB about not staying, I believe she would have left the sport a couple of years ago.

Mistakes I made....I wish I would have insisted that DD take dance class. She lacks artistry and I wish I had ignored all of the tears and complaints and made her stay. But who knows, that may have been the wrong call too!

Another mistake was purchasing a home bar. My DD loved and still loves bars. It is her favorite event. Even though she quickly outgrew it, she would still "experiment" on it and probably picked up some bad habits. I know HC was NOT thrilled when DD told her about her awesome new Christmas present! She also has mats and a floor beam but HC didn't mind so much about those.

The best moments are always when she gets that next big skill. She doesn't care too much about awards, but man is she motivated in skill acquisition. And yes, winning first is still nice and every time DD does it, it's awesome and I'm happy but I find that is more about me and my ego than about her. She just smiles and is happy but quickly shrugs it off.

The worst part is training with girls several years older. My DD is very social but because of age, is frequently excluded from get togethers. This hurts her so much and therefore hurts me. But none of the girls her age include her in their get togethers because they've never been teammates with her so they don't really "know" her. It totally sucks being in that position.

Some of the girls and sometimes even parents, sometimes make what feels like passive aggressive remarks about DD that I can't tell if I'm being hypersensitive or if they're being unkind. Example, one parent watched DD get a skill that their daughter who is 5 years older than mine was working on.

Thanks for your response! That is a lot of good insight for sure… Especially about how your daughter versus you react when she wins first. Since I was a gymnast, and very passionate about it but did not have the resources to take it as far as I wanted to go, I never want her gymnastics to be about me. So, what you said about stepping back and biding her time to let the coaches do the coaching, I feel is extremely important and something that I am always catching myself on!

That is so heartbreaking about the older girls in the gym though… Since we were a very small gym, we had a team that consisted of 18-year-olds and as young as 10 or 11… We all got along so well and had such a strong team feeling, and a very friendly group of parents, and I feel like that was one of the most amazing things about doing gymnastics… The friendships and relationships that came from it. I hope that can get better for y'all!
 
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shelovestoflip

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Hi, all!
My daughter is a very young gymnast… Four years old level two. She does seem to be very talented… We has been told this by many coaches. Also, I was a competitive gymnast and coached gymnastics in college, so I recognized very early that she had potential to be a good gymnast, and to take it as far as she wants… Whether that means she will quit next year, and junior high or compete through college, Who knows! I just want her to have fun! But, I also want to provide her with whatever resources/support she needs to make it the most enjoyable experience as possible.

So, with that said… I thought it would be a fun conversation topic that might be useful to me, or other parents of young gymnast :) When you're gymnasts were younger, what do you feel you did well as a parent, or what do you wish you would have done a little different? What were some of your favorite moments, and what were some of your least favorite moments?

4 years old and Level 2 I'd say just sit back and let her have fun at practice and come home and do whatever she likes. If I recall correctly, she's not yet able to compete until she's 6?? So she's got a long way to go!

My daughter was a late start...didn't join the team until she was 10. She's now 16 and Level 10. Honestly, I'm happy she was able to have fun doing kid stuff. Certainly at 4, she would never have survived more than an hour of any class!

Just enjoy the fun she is having now..when it becomes too much 'must do' stuff, especially at a young age, I think you run the risk of burnout!
 
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auswi

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That is super cool that your little girl started at eight years old and is now competing elite!!! I bet that was quite a journey![/QUOTE]

In Aussie elite track is like in -age in the UK - but I wouldn't consider her competing elite yet ☺ as competing elite is usually seniors IMHO
Yep -quite a journey -but all gymies have that too ☺
 
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l.c.o

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Well, my DD is not a high level kid, but we're four competitive seasons in, so I have some experience parenting in this sport, though my perspective may not be as broad. :)

Trust in the process. So many gyms have different philosophies. Some gyms move girls up each year with the minimum skill set, some gyms have girls repeat until the next level is mastered. Some gyms can be infuriating and do both. Don't get caugh up early (or ever?) in the who's moving up drama. In the end, it probably doesn't matter... unless you're at that gym that makes the girls repeat every level AND never works on the next skills.

Trust your instincts and listen to your DD. If she's getting overwhelmed, don't be afraid to back off the sport for a bit. We moved my DD to a less intense program after preteam as it was just too much for her (she's now back at original club). And just because the other seven girls in her group are doing just fine, it doesn't mean that Susie will thrive under the same circumstances.

Don't watch every practice or you'll seriously go mad. Don't watch every practice or coaches may go mad. ;) Where my DD is now, depending on carpool, there are months where I don't even step in the gym. On occasion I'll try to catch the last 30 min or so of practice, but 50% of the time they're doing strength, so I don't bother.

Avoid overly critical parents. Do this for your own sanity, please. This is another reason not to watch practice. It can ruin trust all around.

Gymnastics isn't just for gymnastics. Your DD will learn so much beyond the sport. When she hits a plateau, or loses some skills, remember this. There is still so much value to this sport.

It's often two steps forward, one step back. Susie gains two skills, needs to clean up form. Or Susie gains two skills, and loses one. Be mindful of the net gain over time.

And finally, the mil-circle is temporary and don't worry - Susie will get her kip!
 

munchkin3

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Yes, just sit back a enjoy. The only advice I can offer is to make sure to keep you girl balanced as she embarks on this ride. Gymnastics can grab hold of you, her and everyone involved and it's important to step back and remember there are many other things successful gymnasts need in order to last. These things are not centered around gym.....another hobby, time with family, play dates, art classes, whatever things that could continue to interest your DD as she grows. Nurture those things too. Make sure she knows you are interested in ALL her talents, not just gymnastics.....
 

GYM0M

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The best thing I did for my dd when she was first starting out, in gymnastics terms, was allow her to develop a love and passion for the sport. It's this love and passion that's gotten her through the tough times and struggles. The list of all the things that I could have done better is too long to list!!
The hardest part about the sport, for me as a parent, is trying to teach my hard-headed little girl that gymnastics is only a part of your life, instead of being her life and though it consumes most of her time, it should not consume all of her.
Disappointment will be a fact of life for most gymmies, especially for the young hot shots! Dealing with heartache is never easy for a gymmie or a parent. Always focus on the bright side. In the end, it won't be about where they arrived, but how they got there!
 

GymmieC

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The only advice I can give you is to enjoy the ride. Love every minute of it. But wait that sentiment goes with whatever your child does not just because she does gymnastics. Love your little girl. Period. All else will have perspective then.
 

flipnastic

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Thanks everyone!!! These are fun to read! I absolutely agree with so much of what y'all said....especially about letting their be more to her in gymnastics. I think gymnastics is such a fun sport, and has so much value in learning about other life things, I don't want it to be her whole world.

Thanks everyone!!!!
 

DefiniteMaybe

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I wish I had prayed more and worried less. I wish I'd helped her learn to cope better when things seemed unfair. Instead, I kind of took offense when dd took offense. I should've backed her coach better and taught her to handle difficulties and "injustices" with more grace.
I wish I'd emphasized earlier that life is not ever going to be fair. Sometimes that fact works to your advantage, and sometimes it works against you. Either way, on any given day, this is the situation you're in. Make the best of each situation.
 

flipnastic

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I wish I had prayed more and worried less. I wish I'd helped her learn to cope better when things seemed unfair. Instead, I kind of took offense when dd took offense. I should've backed her coach better and taught her to handle difficulties and "injustices" with more grace.
I wish I'd emphasized earlier that life is not ever going to be fair. Sometimes that fact works to your advantage, and sometimes it works against you. Either way, on any given day, this is the situation you're in. Make the best of each situation.
Ah..I LOVE this!!!
 

cassafrass

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I like to keep in mind that for my daughter the joy in gymnastics is what is done in the gym every day. She loves competing but that's only a few days of the year compared to 100+ days training. Scores and medals are nice but the real accomplishment is making and perfecting the skill in the gym and its very personal for her. I try to keep this in mind at meets because she is not the best competitor but she is an amazing gymnast nonetheless!
 

profmom

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A lot of people have said things I'd have said, so I won't repeat them. Here's one thing I don't think anyone has said.

After some time in, most kids will incur injuries. These will range from slowing down for a few weeks because of Severs to being out for months or perhaps for good due to back or other very serious injuries. It's important to be able to maintain some perspective and help your gymnast maintain perspective. It stinks to miss a meet, but there's always another one, and time spent healing fully is never wasted time.

When your gymnast gets injured, work out a plan to keep her/him in the gym once it's safe to return. This will really help with the depression and anxiety these kids experience when a training program is suddenly derailed. Even if a gymnast has a long-term injury, s/he can almost always do something (what gymnast doesn't need more core strength?). And teammates can be the best therapy in the world.

And there is life after gymnastics. Enjoy the ride as long as it lasts, but be aware that very few kids continue competing all the way through high school and into college. When the time comes for your child to hang up the grips, whether it's at age 10 or age 30, it will be a great thing if s/he can think of her/himself as more than a gymnast. Even if the "more than" ends up being a gymnastics coach! :)
 

gymgal

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Dr is a 1st year level 10 and has been competing 8years this season.

.Gymnastics has to be her own "thing". She can't be doing it through her coaches' eyes or her parent's eyes. This is kind of easy to handle in the early years but as they go up the levels, parents and coaches put so much time and money into their child's dream, that it becomes theirs as well. And the thought of quitting becomes almost a slap in the face for the adult, especially if you have a girl who is headed to college gym scholarship potential. There are a lot of gymnasts who stay in gym because they don't want to disappoint the adults. I see it every year.

You have to tell her regularly that while you would love for her to continue in a sport they love, you will always be ok if they decide to walk away from gymnastics, whether it is in preteam or 1 day before signing a letter of intent for college. They should never have to carry the burden of staying in the sport because you want it for them. This may sound over the top but when you have put thousands of dollars into the sport every year for several years, it is hard not to take some offense, or feel sadness, or disappointment if she decides to move on beyond gymnastics. having the conversation about it on a regular basis keeps it real both for her and you. And it will allow her to consciously evaluate whether she really wants to continue.
 

profmom

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So true, Gymgal! And you have to be ready to step back and let them progress on their own terms. It can be very hard if a kid starts off very strong and then goes through a period where s/he is really struggling with skills. The parent has to be able to let it go and let the process unfold while supporting the kid. Most of them don't slow down because they are lazy or unmotivated (two words I have heard parents apply to their own L8 or up children, sadly).
 

skschlag

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Um....run away....

no..just kidding, kind of ;)

I think for me, it is all of the above, and to trust and allow them to build the needed relationship with their coach. They have to be able to trust this person all the time with what they are doing. They have to feel comfortable going to them when they have issues. Without that, they won't get very far.

Also..buy stock in tape.. ;)
 
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