Advice for Young Level 4

Discussion in 'Women's Artistic Gymnastics (WAG)' started by GymWithoutEnd, Aug 25, 2012.

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  1. GymWithoutEnd

    GymWithoutEnd New Member

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    My daughter has been at the same gym since preschool. She had a year of Pre Team and loved it. She started training on the Level 4 team at the start of summer. So for ten or 12 weeks now, she has had the new schedule.

    Her problem is not the workout. She is tough and strong. The problem is getting her through the door.

    She is fine at home getting ready, fine if we stop for snacks or lunch, fine in the car, fine until we walk into the gym lobby. Then I can almost see her start to back pedal.

    For whatever reason, it's a HUGE struggle for her to cross the threshold from the lobby into the gym.

    If she doesn't get into the gym in time, then her group is running and warming up on the far side of room and now the distance she must walk seems like miles to her. She starts to shut down. She really shuts down.

    One day this week she got winded during conditioning and I think she panicked a little. I talked to her and explained to be sure and breathe, or to stop a moment and catch her breath.

    Anyway, yesterday she completely balked at the door. All the coaches were kind and tried to help her. But she would not cooperate. She went into the gym, but claimed she was going to throw up. So she sat behind some mats until a coach saw her and sent her out to lobby to me.

    She sat in the lobby with me for 2 hours. I asked if she wanted to go home and she said no. It took all my patience and then some, but I waited it out. When her team mates came out for snack break, half was through a 4 hour practice, she ate a snack too, and then went out in the gym for beam and floor. She did GREAT. She was happy and bouncy. Worked on her BHS by herself. She came out of the gym beaming.

    So..... I don't think the problem is that she doesn't enjoy gymnastics. She works on her floor routine everyday at home. She plays gymnastics with her sister.

    She will be 7yo next week. Honestly, I think it would be a shame to let her just walk away now. She has worked so hard, and not yet competed, so she doesn't know what all the work is leading to.

    But, she always can't have the idea that it's okay to sit in the lobby for two hours and then go in the gym for her favorite events.

    She's had this hesitation at the door for a while, since moving up to Level 4, but never this bad.

    I am hoping some of you guys have been through this and can offer me some tips or advice. Thanks so much.
     

  2. MaryA

    MaryA Proud Parent/Moderator Staff Member CBBC Board Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    A few things spring to mind...
    First of all, try to be a few minutes early. Feeling like you're late or behind in some way isn't a good feeling, especially when you have to walk through the while gym to meet up with your group. I know that my daughter gets anxious about that and she's a level 7 and has been on team forever. If we're running late she will be like, "But they will have already started RUNNING, Mom!"

    Second, if there is a girl or girls that she seems to click with, see if you can talk to their parents and see if they'll meet your daughter at a particular place in the lobby before practice. "Suzie, I was waiting for you! It's so good to see you! Let's go in!". You could even offer to give the other girl a ride to practice a time or two so that they can go into the gym together.

    3rd, 4 hours of practice is long practice for a 7-year-old level 4. If she's only been in rec before this, I'm guessing that she's only done 1.5 hour practices up till now? Maybe it is just too much for her. I would think that 4 hour practices would be a lot for any 7-year-old. Maybe she just needs another year to mature, or needs to try team at a gym with more frequent 2-3 hour practices for their level 4's (though if she's already having anxiety issues, I doubt a gym-change would be helpful, at least in the short run).

    Good luck, and let us know how it goes. I suspect that, as with so many "issues" we have with our kids, this is something that she will overcome and you'll forget it was ever a problem. A year from now you'll see a new level 4 cowering in her mother's arms as your daughter runs happily into the gym and you'll think, "Oh yeah... I remember that!"
     
  3. maryRS

    maryRS New Member Proud Parent

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    I agree with Mary's advice. One other thing I thought was the old dropping your child off at daycare/school thing that they give a hard time but are fine when you leave. If you think the 4 hour practices are fine and she loves it, maybe just taking her and walking her to the gym say good-bye and leave will be better for her. I know sometimes when we linger, we think we are helping them, but it just makes it harder. While I think that may work, the only hesitation I might have is that gymnastics is not like school or daycare, and it really should be all fun at 7 years old. So I'd probably question the hesitation a little bit.
     
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  4. sglemon

    sglemon New Member Proud Parent

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    Have you tried just dropping her off, like driving the car to the door and having her get out? Can a coach meet you at the door to get her from the car. I have seen children act like this when a parent hangs around the gym, even 8-9 yr olds. Once they are gone, they are perfectly alright. Another option, can a dad or someone else drop her off, to see if she behaves differently? It could be many things, separation anxiety, attention seeking or even maturity
     

  5. gymgal

    gymgal New Member CBBC Board Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    all really good advice so far. Like Mary, my dd went through this as a young gymnast and at L7 still can't stand to be "on-time" She has to be early or gets really anxious. She does not like walking into the gym alone when the majority of the team is already there. If she goes in with a friend, then it displaces the anxiety a little bit.

    So, first recommendation is to get her there 10 min early and let her get settled with her team. This may be all you need to solve the issue. I also like the idea of having a teammate go in with her. However, if you are continuing to see this pattern, you may need to talk with the coach about whether she is ready for team emotionally. If she is having anxiety over entering a gym full of friends, what will she do at competitions?
     
  6. thefellowsmom

    thefellowsmom New Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    I totally agree with arriving early if you can swing it. Although my dd has never hesitated at going to practice, she does hat to be late and will freak out crying if we are running a few minutes late. Our girls have their lockers inside the gym and are allowed to go in and put their things away and socialize and play as long as they stay out of the way. I think this has really helped the girls that are a little anxious.

    The Fellows says that having that 10 minutes before practice to warm up and get in sync with everyone really helps her get her head in the right place for practice.

    So, if all the girls are waiting in the lobby to go in for practice, maybe arriving early and her being able to hang and talk with her friends for a few minutes will ease some of the tension for her.

    The Fellows is really anxious about certain things (just not gymnastics) and I find that not feeling rushed and her understanding exactly what it coming is really helpful. If I break things down into smaller chunks it seems to help a lot.
     
  7. kgymn

    kgymn New Member Gymnast

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    There are so many things that could be happening here. She is either trying to escape something about the practice, or she is trying to spend more time with you. Or like others said she may just not want to go in alone. I would start with showing up early and seeing if that helps. If not, try dropping her off and leaving... and don't go back until practice is over unless she has a fever or pukes or hurts something. (otherwise she may just continue to refuse to go in so you will come back and hang out with her)
    If those don't work, there's something about the practice she doesn't like. Do they always do beam and floor the 2nd half? She could love those events but not like the others. She could be lacking confidence on bars or vault. She could be scared of a skill she is working on. She may be trying to avoid getting a rip. Are there different coached on the different events? She may just not like one of them as much.

    ~Katy
     
  8. kayjaybe

    kayjaybe New Member Proud Parent

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    Could there be a particular event your child is struggling with and that event passed by the time she joined the group? My 10 yo dd is struggling with fear regarding her BWO on the beam right now and she was balking at going to practice and saying she didn't feel good. She was working herself up about the beam. (She can do the skill. She is just scared and it is taking over.) Anyway, maybe there is a particular coach/event/skill that she is fearful of.

    Also, I agree with others to arrive a bit early so she has time to get acclimated. Also, if she is getting ready in the changing room with her friends, it will be harder for her to hang back when they all go out.

    Finally, do you always stay for practice? Starting with Level 3 at our gym, parents are not allowed to stay for practice. The coaches want the kids focusing on their workout...not checking to see if mom saw what they did. Start backing off from staying for practices. Drop her off - walk her in and tell her you need to leave as soon as you know she is safely inside. Tell her you have errands to run and you'll be back to get her at the end of practice.

    Additional note - I agree that a 4-hour practice seems really long for this age and level. My Level 6, 10 yo dd only practices for 3 hours at a time. Even our Level 10's only practice for 3.5 hours for their longest practice!
     
  9. Moxiegrl83

    Moxiegrl83 New Member Proud Parent

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    We have a little girl on DD5's team who does the same thing. And while the advice to drop her off and leave may work for your DD, it didn't for her's. It happens when her mom's there, but the days her grandma drops her off and leaves she does it too. Then her mom will get there in an hour or so, and find her just sitting there by the gate to go in the gym. Even when the coaches try to talk to her and get her to participate, she won't. It doesn't happen every practice, and once she's out there she's absolutely fine, it's just getting her to start! Her mom doesn't get it either, as she loves gymnastics, her older sister does it, and she constantly talks about how excited she is to go...

    My little one gets nervous walking in the gym by herself too, and I work there! She knows all the girls, coaches, is there days I work just hanging out, so she's totally comfortable at the gym, it's just something about walking through that gate to join her class, it makes her nervous. Luckily if I walk her in and "hand" her over to a coach, it's enough. I like the idea of getting there early, to give her time to adjust. Meeting a friend beforehand should work well too, as when the girls walk in together, none of them seem to hesitate.

    I'm really working with my DD to speak up for herself, and let adults know if their is a problem. If she felt sick, she'd probably hide too instead of telling a coach "My stomach hurts, can I take a break?". It drives me batty, but seems to be normal with the shy ones. Same thing at school, won't ask to go to the bathroom, won't ask for help with her lunch, won't get up at car line when she hears her name because that means walking towards a group of strangers and actually speaking to them....I don't know what else I/We can do to give them a little more confidence, just comes with age and experience I guess. :)
     
  10. Quadqueen

    Quadqueen New Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    all good advice given here....I would also question 4 hour practices at Level 4...that's a bit much!!! maybe she's just exhausted?!!
     
  11. gymgal

    gymgal New Member CBBC Board Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    This is certainly true. I have seen dd get a little braver in the social situations each year. I remember being this way as a child. With time, she will find ways to overcome the shyness.
     
  12. GymWithoutEnd

    GymWithoutEnd New Member

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    Thank you all for such consideration and awesome answers. Great Minds Think Alike!

    I will address some of the points you made. We always arrive early because my younger daughter goes in at 3:30 with no hesitation. Older daughter starts at 4pm. So being early is already being done.

    Our girls are allowed to go in and jump on tumble track to warm up a bit before practice. If she goes in then, she does great. Easy transition. The longer she waits, the harder it gets for her and the more "symptoms" she developes.

    Today I talked with her about the different ways she has gone into practice and asked her what she felt worked the best for her. She acknowledges that she feels better once she get into the gym.

    But on the days when she hesitates, it looks so crazy. If I try to move toward her or reach for her, like to hold her hand, she starts backing up and saying, "no, no, no". It looks like I am a lunatic forcing my child into the gym. (hope I am not that!)

    Regarding coaches...... there is one older Russian coach that she may not be comfortable with. However, he really likes her and gives her lots of hands on coaching, which she probably doesn't like. But he very gentle and grandfatherly. And sometimes she is okay with it, and sometimes she seems afraid.

    I want her to know I support her and will help her, but at the same time it is not appropriate to delay the start of practice. She likes the other girls on her team and I've tried to use the buddy system and say, "Here is Molly, walk in with Molly". Not successful so far.

    OH, and I can't drop and go right now, since my younger daughter is in the gym. I could leave for about an hour and although she wants me there, I might have to tell her I will stay when she can handle getting in the door without me..... but when I write that it seems backwards. LOL.

    Anyway, I talked with her, told her a story about when I was her age and was afraid to jump off the diving board into the deep water, but I just did it quick to get it over with, and I've always been glad I conquered that fear. I told her I would pick her up from school on Monday (first day of school) and we'll go get ice cream and head to the gym.
    I told her I expected her to walk into the gym happily.

    Now, that being said, I think it's time for me to back way out of the picture. Even if I don't leave. I'm going to take a seat and wait for her to get herself in the gym. It seems like the more I've done to "help" her, the more she has depended on me......opening the door, taking her to the bathroom, urging her to go in.

    She knows what she is supposed to do. And the willingness and courage to do it has to come from inside of herself. I realize there is no "perfect" thing I can say or do to make her take those steps. Either she will or she will not. But my getting physcially and emotionally involved in it is likely complicating everything for her.

    I really appreciate all of you who took the time to write about your ideas and experience. I sure hope that one day we will look back and this will be a faded memory.

    I promise to update here after Monday and let you know how it went....... in case it might help another mom sometime.
     
  13. mayestra12

    mayestra12 New Member

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    I wrote this same exact post about my daughter two years ago. She started doing the same thing when she moved to team at 6. She is 8 now.

    For her, anxiety was / is the cause and I had to get her help from a child psychologist.

    I can't tell you how many times I would stand there at the gate with her in tears telling me she couldn't go in but didn't want to go home.

    The second I could get someone to take her in she was fine. It took a lot of communication back and forth the get the coaches to understand and work with me.

    Most of the times she couldn't express why she was couldn't go in without the tears etc. Most of time it boiled down to worries about something that she thought was going to happen (in her head). Teammates might laugh if she misses a skill, she might not do something correctly etc.

    My daughter also HAS to be early (but not too early) to practice and I have to walk her in most days. Now I wait to her favorite teammate get there and tell her she's fine and hit the road quickly. If I linger she will cling and be more likely not to go in on her own. It helps that her bff teammate is older. It's like a little sister / big sister thing and she feels ok expressing her nerves / worries to her.

    Anxiety (not saying that your dd has this) is very difficult and patience is the key. Sticking to a routine helps and not giving in to the "aches and pains" that arise is necessary. All I can say is I know exactly what you are going through!
     
  14. GymWithoutEnd

    GymWithoutEnd New Member

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    Thank you for your thoughts on anxiety and sharing your dd's experience. Anxiety is such a huge and invisible problem! Every gym needs a psychologist on staff! :)
     
  15. gymboymom

    gymboymom New Member Proud Parent

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    I think you are on the right track with her. I just wanted to add that when my ds had a hard time going into preschool the teacher told me to stay in the hallway but to be as "boring as possible". Bring a book and don't talk to her when it is time to go in. W
     
  16. gymboymom

    gymboymom New Member Proud Parent

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    I think you are on the right track with her. I just wanted to add that when my ds had a hard time going into preschool the teacher told me to stay in the hallway but to be as "boring as possible". Bring a book and don't talk when it is time to go in. WOrked great for us. Preschool (and hopefully gymnastics) are much better than sitting with mOm reading a book! Good luck. I do agree 4 hours is lOng, is it shorter after school?
     
  17. GymWithoutEnd

    GymWithoutEnd New Member

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    Thank you Gymboymom, I had already decided to be unemotional and not get involved in her struggle to walk into the gym. I will take your tip and be boring too.

    Four hours three times a week has been the schedule all summer. I wish it was three hours but I realize the program is designed around alot of schedules and needs. School starts tomorrow so I hope we can adjust.

    I'll be posting an update tomorrow. Right now, dd says she is going in early to sit or to play. We discussed all her ways of going in and she decided that worked best for her. So we will see.

    I"m so thankful to have this group to figure things out with.
     
  18. iwannacoach

    iwannacoach Coach Coach Proud Parent Gymnast

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    I just wrote a couple of long paragraphs about age and time perception, but my wife came along, jumped my post, and simply said.....Maybe she just likes the type of class she used to be in, or isn't ready for a team experience, and just doesn't know it.

    As a gymnastics junkie I am shocked beyond belief to hear that any child in this universe would balk at lifetime length team practices. So maybe it's a case of her not embracing a team future, could be her age and length of practice, or that she misses that "flippy twisty thing" she always did in her own class.

    About anxiety.....Look for other settings where your dd seems to react unreasonably to problems that just don't seem to exist. An example would be you changing plans by adding an unexpected trip to a fun day outing. If she gets all stressed out about the change, even though it's going to add "off the hook" fun to the day......

    So just mentally collect any oddities, if they start piling up, or if the gym routine can't be adapted to.....well you just may have an exceptionally bright kid that has to have things a certain way to function.
     
  19. GymWithoutEnd

    GymWithoutEnd New Member

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    Iwannacoach..... very true. DD likes predictability and sameness. In fact she thrives on it. She was adopted from China at age 2 and I think some of her anxiety behaviors stem from her early experiences.

    Just to be clear. This is not a new schedule, nor is it a new situation. She started Level 4 practice in May, and the summer has gone well.

    The only thing that has changed is that instead of the team mostly having the gym to themselves, all the rec classes have come back and it's much louder and busier, and we all know how much sensory stuff there is to deal with in a gym! In the past she has struggled with sensory overload and that may come into play here as well.

    I will definitely not keep her at this level if she shows signs of discomfort regularly. But she's worked hard and seemed to enjoy it, so I want to give her a little more time before I just remove her from the situation.

    Interestingly, I would say exactly what your wife said if someone else had this situation. LOL. But every situation is unique. There is a history to it and each child's journey has it's on details. For this week, I am going to approach it pragmatically and "assume" there is not a huge underlying problem. If she still struggles, we will move onto Plan B.
     
  20. Moxiegrl83

    Moxiegrl83 New Member Proud Parent

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    iwannacoach's post made me think. Did she have this problem going to the pre-team practice too? Or did it start with team? Our girls team has ages from about 7-18. It might be intimidating to go into a group with the "big girls", what my DD calls them. :)
     
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