Practicing and Staying on Task

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I have an almost 7 year old that just joined a team in January, had her first competition in March and absolutely LOVES it. She did well at competition, I thought.

However, she has a very frustrating habit of being the last girl to start drills, the first one to break position, the one most likely to use the wrong leg, and most damaging....doing everything half-way. Younger/newer girls don't seem to struggle with the concept.

It is her nature with everything. She DOES practice and stretch at home. But generally, it takes her 2 hours of practice to get the benefit of 30 minutes. Unfortunately, she just doesn't see that...she assumes that because she is THERE, that somehow that counts.

At the end of the summer, she has tryouts and I know she will be devastated if she is not promoted to the next level. But I don't see how she will. I'm not sure that is a bad thing....but I have a feeling she won't UNDERSTAND it and will just feel resentful.

I thought about filming her so she can SEE it, but she tends to be quick with excuses for the day. FYI: she is not ADD or anything like that.

Any thoughts/suggestions on how to help her become a better participant???

Hi Tink, welcome to CB.

Rest assured that your DD certainly is not unique in this respect. A lot of girls in our gym are this way when they first get into pre-competition classes. Basically, are still in recreation-mode. When it's not their turn, they think it's OK to play. This may be acceptable in some recreation classes, but it's not appropriate in team.

My suggestion would be to have a calm heart to heart talk with DD. Explain that her that being a part of a team means paying close attention to everyone (not just coach), and being repectful to others. Explain that her actions can be disruptive to the group, which isn't fair to them, and more importantly to the coach.

Then, lay down the law. Pay attention, work hard, follow the rules, or find another activity.

As a parent, it's important that we fully understand the challenges the coaches have. These challenges do not include day-care. A student that wanders takes the attention away from the coach, who needs to focus on form, spotting, saftey of all the athletes.

That said, you can also have a talk with the coach, and give them the thumbs-up to enforce your feelings. Sometimes a few repremands in front of the other girls does wonders as no child likes to be called out.

Nip it in the bud early, then sit back and enjoy the rest.
Hope it helps.

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I agree alot with Tim_Dad. I think some of her problem is just being 7yo and not being used to what is required for a team practice. She may not be mentally/emotionally ready to do team yet or remaining at the same level for another season may be beneficial.

Yes, a very low key talk with her about listening, following directions, not playing around may help. Don't get into the negatives of "you won't move up if this continues." Try and see how she sees gymnastics. She may have fun with it, but not take it as seriously as the other kids-----and thats ok. There are other options to do gymnastics other than the more intense USAG program.

Also do chat with her coach. She may tell you dd is acting like many typical 7yos and nothing to worry about. Many times it does take them a year or so to realize that all the effort in the gym does pay off at meets and put it all together.
I agree this is typical 6/7 yo behavior, and if she want to be successful, she will figure out quickly that she has to work harder. I agree w/ the low key discussion about your expectations as a parent, but developmental maturity is just that- each child develops at their own pace. She just sounds more on the "young" side developmentally- that will change as time goes by. If sdoes not move up, I would have the coach explain why and what is expected, and then see if she can prove herself.

Usually, not moving up, not doing as well at meets as she would like, etc helps a child mature and "understand" what is expected. I'm sure the coaches are teaching her what is expected as well. I've coached children like this at this age, and some figure it out, and some just don't. I've also coached children on the opposite end of the specrum- totally stressed out and "driven" at the the of 6/7- and cannot deal with frustration at all. (Id rather deal w/ a laid back 7 yo than a stress case!)

I would suggest not staying & watching the prectices- it sounds like its driving you crazy. State your expectations, and let time do its thing!
gymch34 has a good point about not staying to watch the practices -- for both your benefits! She mentioned it helping you to not stress, but it may also help her to focus. I have a couple of kids who are silly, lazy, space cadets when mom is in the gym. Mom leaves and suddenly, they are working hard, making good changes, and paying attention! I'm not sure why Mom's presence affects them this way and it is not the same for different children. I have also coached other children that sound like your dd and they just have to grow out of it. As previously stated, that maturing will be encouraged through coach discipline, not getting to move up, and doing poorly at meets. Try not to get too frustrated. Your coaches will let you know when it's time to get frustrated with the behavior! ;)
I don't get too concerned about that behavior from a 6/7 year old, as long as she's not bouncing around the gym or not listening to a word the coaches say. Even some of my most talented little ones in the level 4/5 group have their moments where they skip a station or rush through their skills. Gymnastics will be good for her to learn how to focus, it just might take some time. But be sure to let her know what you expect from her as well as what the coaches expect. Also, like others have said, let the coaches know they can be firm with her if certain behavior persists. I often am afraid to be too firm with the girls who cause the biggest problems because I don't know how their parents would take them being sent to sit out for a few minutes or asked to do extra conditioning.
I work with plenty of 8-10 year olds who still cannot focus and view practice as a big joke, and these kids are supposed to be the role models for the little girls! Those are the ones I'm most frustrated by.
Sounds like a typical 6/7 year old kid. I think at some point they all have that issue. And usually as a parent we see it more in our own kids than in the other kids. Heck mine just turned 12 on the 1st and she still does that during the warm - ups for some of the events. You know doing 7 of somthing when she is supposed to do 10. LOL.
As a parent, it's important that we fully understand the challenges the coaches have. These challenges do not include day-care. A student that wanders takes the attention away from the coach, who needs to focus on form, spotting, saftey of all the athletes.

Thank You for saying that Tim_Dad!
I expect 6-7 year olds to get distracted, and be less able to complete tasks independently, BUT I do also expect that behavior to improve over time. Unfortunately, I see the results of a lack of parental discipline in some of the kids I coach. Some kids I have coached still cannot stand still, listen to instructions or be trusted not to cheat on assignments at 8-10 years of age :eek:. I have to spend MY coaching time on teaching basic manners and acceptable behavior, which I cannot believe has not been taught at home or school! Now, not all kids are like this, but there are a few.

Luckily, for the OP's child, she has a parent who cares enough to notice and want to improve her attention and discipline. Even though some kids do have a very hard time maintaining focus and motivation due to ADD/ADHD, I do not believe we should lower the expectations for them, but should help those kids have the structure they need to suceed. It's also worth noting that low blood sugar levels and tiredness can cause kids to act like this too. However, it's outside of my responsibility as a coach to make sure kids are well fed, rested, disciplined and medicated if needed:) I wish more parents were like Tim_Dad and the OP, but sadly some are not (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree).
I was the same way in figure skating. I think that it would help (it helped me) if she had a goal to work towards that was very real to her, and also a challenge. Like, making 10 beam routines in a row or something like that. Since she probably only goes to gym a couple times a week, she has to learn how to make time count to get all those routines in. Also, withhold competition privileges if she doesn't practice hard hard hard. Be harsh. She needs it, even though she's not really doing it on purpose.
Thanks for everyone's input. I've tried to reply several times, but I keep getting interrupted and whosh....I'm not logged in anymore!

So, I will keep it short before the next interruption. BIG thanks for the support and thoughtful replies. I will clarify one thing. My daughter is well behaved in class and does NOT disrupt it....she's just slow moving to the next task OR she doesn't quite do exactly as the coach instructs. Age certainly plays a role, I think, but I see a characteristic that *I believe* is simply a personality glitch. Have you ever seen a child who is trying their absolute hardest but can't quite get it? Well, I can see that my daughter is focusing on the task...but the prep is too long, or she misinterprets the instructions. All in all, she seems to be making each task more work (or less beneficial) because of this. I guess I didn't realize this until I really thought about your answers.

So, I am hopeful that this "revelation" will help me figure out how to approach it. But I am ALWAYS open to more ideas!!!


I think some is probably her age and could be that she isn't getting taught the best way that she learns? Some kids are fine being told one time, or watching another kid do the skill. Others need to have the skill explained to them, broken down, even have their bodies physically placed in the right positions by the coach.

I used to think my DD just didn't "get" certain skills. She would do the stations over and over, the wrong way, not getting corrected a lot of the time. An example was her back roll to push up (as in the level 4 floor routine), she just didn't get it and I though maybe she never would or wasn't strong enough or whatever. She obviously was trying very hard, but it just didn't seem to help no matter how much she did them.

We recently moved her to a different gym (please don't misread me, I am NOT suggesting moving your DD to another gym, just telling her story) and she got the skill within a few weeks. She simply needed to be taught in a different way. She needed a breakdown of where her body had to be in each part of it and BAM, she does a beautiful back roll to push up. She even said that it was because the coach explained to her and showed her where her body had to be in each part and she "didn't know that before."

My DD still plays around sometimes when it isn't her turn, but I know that her coaches understand that she is 6 and they know how to regain their attention, etc.

Have you talked to her coaches? Is it a particular skill/s or everything she learns? Could be she needs to be shown in a different way.

Welcome to the Chalk Bucket!! :D

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