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Mental Aspect of Childrens Gymnastics


Anyone who has a child in a gymnastics program needs to be aware that the child’s motives in participating in the sport may be totally different from that of the parent’s. What does the parent usually want? Being motivated by love, concern, and a touch of parental pride, any mom or dad would want their child to learn grace, balance and discipline, and develop self-esteem. With visions of glory, they also foresee their precious offspring wining in regional and national championships, and maybe even make it to the Olympics.

But what does the child want? Primarily, he or she would like to have fun. Secondly, joining a gymnastics program presents a wonderful opportunity to make lots of friends. And finally, there is competition. It is rare to find a youngster who is in the sport for the single-minded reason of competing.

Your Child and Peer Pressure

Do you know what happens in your child’s world? You probably have an idea because you were once a kid yourself. Do you remember the teasing that goes on? The whispering among the other girls that may make your daughter feel left out? Or even the snickers from the boys which can lead your son to get into fights. Kids will taunt other kids to do difficult and daring stuff, and the social stress your child is subjected to can be enormous. Welcome to the world of peer pressure.

What can a parent do to ease their child’s challenging existence? Your solid support will help greatly, so does establishing clear communication lines with your child. Let them know that just because “everybody does it”, doesn’t mean they have to go with the flow. Every kid wants to fit in, but not when it means having to hurt someone. Help your child to learn how to say “no” when he or she is being made to do something against better judgment.

Peer pressure is present in gymnastics, as well. Other kids who perform below par – maybe they haven’t gotten that handspring or walkover down to pat – are made to feel inferior and unworthy. The best route to take is reassurance. Reassure your child that he or she is doing really well. That they’re as good as anyone else, even better! Let them that know you have confidence in their abilities, and you’ll have a happy, emotionally healthy child. And that makes all the difference in the world for your youngster to shine and be the best he or she could be.

A Supportive Parent Is Not an In-Your-Face Parent

Have your heard about “Little League Parents”? It’s a name they call parents who are excessively “supportive”, they literally live in their children’s lives. You can see them in the stands at children’s baseball games, loudly booing the umpire and calling out the coach, even ratting out their own kids. Hence the term “little league parent”.

It’s possible that a coach can make a bad call or a judge make a lopsided decision. They are human after all, and they make human errors. But loudly berating them during a competition sets a bad example for your child. You’re actually showing your kid that it’s fine to be noisy and obnoxious about getting people to see things your way. That’s not the kind of conduct you want to pass on to your child, is it?

A better solution would be to wait until competition is over, and approach the coach or judge. Speak with them quietly; be courteous and reasonable. Your calm and professional manner will get better results than yelling and hurling insults ever will. What’s more, you’ll be showing your child the kind of appropriate and commendable adult behavior that will see him or her in good stead in the future.

“Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!”

In being supportive, some parents actually go all out for their child. They want their young ones to be the best they can be, and if that means extra time to practice to perfect a move, then so be it.

If you’re setting up the living room or back yard as an alternative practice venue for your child after gym hours, be extra careful. Every practice area needs to be safe. Space is paramount, and so is a soft, well-padded mat. Your participation at every home-practice session is crucial as your child will need a spotter to catch him or her during falls. So if you and your home cannot meet all these requirements, it would be wise not to even try.

Excessive support and too much encouragement from parents, to the point of obsession, can actually cause burn-out in your child. You need to be aware that you’ve enrolled your child in the gymnastics program for his or her benefit – not for yours. When your child ceases to enjoy playing a sport, then it becomes a chore rather than a fun thing to do. Don’t pressure your child about practicing at home. If your youngster really wants to, he or she will be the first to suggest it.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Coach

It’s important to establish a good solid relationship with your child’s coach. Always keep communication lines open so you will know what’s going on at all times. Your child’s coach should be supportive and friendly, and be able answer all your concerns regarding your child and his or her progress in the sport. If you do not feel that kind of welcoming atmosphere, shop around for another coach or another gym.

On the other hand, you also have to realize that a coach is a very busy person, and is responsible for a multitude of other kids under his tutelage. Try not to be too overbearing by monopolizing the coach’s time at every opportunity. This will not promote your child’s training in any way.



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