My daughter wants to quit gymnastics

Discussion in 'Question & Answer' started by comp gym mom, Jun 13, 2012.

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  1. comp gym mom

    comp gym mom New Member

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    My daughter is a 11 year old Level 8 gymnast who has been doing this since she was 3. She has had a very good gymnastics career and is always on the podeum. She says it isn't fun for her anymore. What do I do to get her to stay in a sport she is so good at? I feel like a failure as a mom because I can't help her through this. But my fear is that this is one of those life lessons when she has to persevere through the challenge in order to develop good skills in her adult life. I don't want to think that anytime something gets challenging or hard or scary that she will quit. Not a good trait to have in my opinion. My husband and I are at odds about this and it is tearing me up inside watching everyone so upset. Any advice?

  2. bogwoppit

    bogwoppit Administrator CBBC Board Member Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    How long has she felt this way?
  3. GymBee97

    GymBee97 New Member Proud Parent

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    Find out what makes it "not fun" anymore if you can. It could be as simple as she needs a month off of the training. She may feel all her friends are getting to do the "fun" stuff and she is "stuck in gymnastics for hours" It could be she has had a fight with a teammate or the coach, she could be afraid of moving forward. there are so many things that could be making it "not fun" that are fixable.

    With that said, Your not going to like this and I don't mean it as an attack or anything on you, But in the end she is just a kid and at 11 - 12 alot of gymnasts going into middle school years (grades 6 - 8) see all the other options for activities out there and may want to try them. Forcing her to continue with a sport she isn't having fun at just becasue mom isn't ready for her to quit isn't fair to her no matter how good she is.

    She is young and has perservered at this since she was 3 so its not like she hasn't persevered at this and quitting isn't a failure on your part or hers. She wants a change and it really is OK to let her stop. I'm sure she will be good at other things to and she may want to try them and be with school friends in those activities and that really is OK. I think a failure on a parents part would be to force the child to continue after they have told you they are done because you think they should stay.

    I think many times its harder for us as parents to let go of the dream than it is for the kids. So my question would be If she is telling you "it isn't fun anymore" why would you want to force her to continue to do something she may be good at but isn't enjoying? My Philosophy has always been it has to be first and formost FUN for the kids. Doesn't matter their skill level, the scores they get or anything else - If it isn't FUN then its time to stop. Knowing when its time to stop/quit and move on is an important life lesson too. This may be one of those times.
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  4. cbone

    cbone New Member

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    First of all, find out if this is a passing feeling or what she REALLY wants. If she's done and you keep her in for your own reasons, that's the real failure as a parent from my viewpoint. And I'll give you some perspective- if she leaves, she isn't taking the easy way out. She got to Level 8!!! That's a huge accomplishment by itself, let alone her many podiums. Not everyone is a "I have to get to Level 10 and get a full-ride college scholarship" gymnast. When you have nothing left to give to the sport- that's the time to get out.

    A child being done with the sport isn't indicative of their failure- or their parents'. If she's really done, this is just the beginning of her next great adventure. Embrace it either way.
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  5. thefellowsmom

    thefellowsmom New Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    I totally agree that if she is really done then you need to let her do it. It is her sport and her life.

    But, with that said and based on my own experiencing quitting a sport that I loved at this age, I would urge you talk it all the way through with her and really get to the heart of what is going on. 'It isn't fun any more' could mean a hundred things and it could be something that is easily fixed or has nothing to do with gymnastics at all or she could really just be done. If you can get to the meat of it and really talk it through with her, you will get a better feeling of what she really wants.

    I would also suggest exploring ways to get her a break without quitting or sticking it out for a few more months to see if the feeling passes or maybe even explore a gym change. This will of course depend on how long she has been feeling this way and what her reasons are, but if you can help her identify her real feelings then sometimes knowing that you really heard her and will try to help her may be enough to get her over the hump.

    I am not trying to put my experience on your daughter at all, but I have HUGE regrets about leaving my sport at this age. That I didn't fight m harder, that my parents didn't know the way I truly felt.

    Trust yourself as her parents and let her fully explore why she feels this way. What she has accomplished is huge and she should be proud of that and if she is really ready to move on then she should feel good about that decision. But, she has put so many years of blood, sweat and tears as well as her heart and soul into this. Don't let her just run away either.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
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  6. Aussie_coach

    Aussie_coach Moderator/Coach CBBC Board Member Verified Coach Proud Parent Gymnast Club Owner

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    A lot of kids start to feel this way at this age. Kids interests to change when they hit the preteen years, for the same reason that they often lose interest in playing with toys they can lose interest in gymnastics.

    Many kids by 11 have done gymnastics all their lives and so many hours a week they have never been able to experience anything else. Many start to want to try being on the soccer team, cheerleading, dance class and so on and feel that their gymnastics does not allow this.

    For others it can be social reasons. For younger kids going to gymnastics is the social events, if they weren't at the the gym they would be at home. But as they get older school social ness becomes more important. If they weren't at gym they may be invited to " hang out", go to the ,all or the movies, attend discos and so on. They get tired of telling their friends they can't come to things because they have gymnastics and thee kids get tired of having their invitations rejected and they may stop inviting. By this age fitting in socially can rank up there with breathing as to the most important things in life.

    Somethimes the problem is the changing body, kids body's start to change at this age they will usually feel very self conscious and unsure about it. Gymnastics required attire of nothing but a leotard has driven many pre teens and teens from the sport.
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  7. gymgal

    gymgal New Member CBBC Board Member CB Booster Club Proud Parent

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    If it were me, I'd be talking with the head coach at this point, in addition to your dd. I wouldn't just accept "it's not fun anymore". There would have to be a more thought out explanation before my dd gave up something that has been part of her life since she was 3. I would be exploring what is really going on and trying to work a solution for it (less hours, a total break, change up in training, different gym if there's problems there, etc). Sometimes just giving her a different perspective might help too. She's a level 8! how many girls get to that level? That's some real good talent there! We all have some kind of talent and it is a real shame to not see it to her fullest potential. Let her know you will work with her in forming a plan that works for her and solves whatever the problem is.
  8. momnipotent

    momnipotent New Member

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    How is she right after practice? I coach a different sport but I always encourage parents to look at how the kids are coming out of practice when deciding whether to pull them or not. If they are leaving practice happy, that says more than them asking not to go or saying they want to quit. If they are leaving practice unhappy on a consistent basis, or getting in the car unhappy day after day, that would be when I would say it is time to take a break and/or conider quitting.
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  9. bookworm

    bookworm New Member Proud Parent

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    Just because she's good at it is no reason to make her stay in the sport... there have been plenty of excellent gymnasts who have gotten to VISAs and even made the National Team (i.e.Tessa Pama, Ashley Stott, Bianca Flohr that I can think of...some had injuries, others just wanted to be done), and then left the sport...and life goes on without gymnastics. Your kid has to love what she's doing because it's HER sport and she is the one putting in the time. If this is what she feels she wants at this time, put your game face on and be supportive of her decision.
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  10. MaryA

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

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    I read the post to my daughter (11-year-old level 7) and asked what she thought. She said, "I think she should be able to quit if she wants to, but it makes me sad to think about it." I'm sure it makes you sad too! But the same things that make it so heartbreaking to think of her leaving the sport (namely the thousands of hours and the many thousands of dollars that have gone into it so far) are the same things that should keep you from pushing her to keep doing it. The kind of hours she's putting into the sport would be unthinkable to most 11-year-olds. If she doesn't love it, it's probably just not worth it. I'm sure she has taken many valuable lessons from the sport (work ethic, etc.) so it's not a waste. If you sense she's not really done, but just experiencing a bump in the road, suggest other options (xcell, rec) that help her keep a foot in the door. But if she resists even that, I say that it's time. To me it sounds like she's quitting on her own terms... Not in the middle of a season or because she's not progressing or because of a fear or an injury or whatever. That may be that's the best way to leave it. (((hugs)))
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  11. Panda-girl's Mom

    Panda-girl's Mom New Member

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    Having gone through this recently it is really hard to determine what to do. My circumstances where a little different although our daughters where the same age. My daughter completed her level 6 season had growth spurts and a lot of pain and was not doing that great at meets. It was helpful to get the head coach involved who was able to help her decide without my influence. I was really lucky that she remained nuetral and allowed daughter to decide. Unfortunately she decided she was done but is having fun and doing well with other things. Daughter also said to me it was no longer fun, but she continued to finish the season and want to go to meets and would tell me she wants to see if she still likes it. She quit after the season was over and coach gave her a month to come up with a decision. As a parent I had to be firm and tell her that it was her decision and when she decided it was over we were no longer going to go to practice since she still thought she would continue to go to the gym until summer came.
    I also felt like maybe she would regret her decision but she doesn't. I think there are still times when she misses it but she does not miss it enough to go back and give up all the other things she is doing now. I told her if she changed her mind I would support her and let her go back. I let her go to tumbling classes once a week at her old gym. She is really enjoying it.

    I hope it all works out, I would also try to figure out the reason she is saying it is no longer fun. I know the other poster talked about her she regrets that her parent did not make her stay in the sport. That is my biggest fear that she will have regrets someday but I am sure we all have regrets. I think you just have to do what ever makes your child happy. When ever I think how hard it is I just think about the kids that were on the team with my daughter and were taken out because their parents could not afford it at least my daughter quit on her own terms and was ready.
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  12. iwannacoach

    iwannacoach Coach Coach Proud Parent Gymnast

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    I'll skip through all of the qualifying statements about probing for the real reason your dd wants to quit, as I'm sure you'll do your best to understand, along with her, what's taken the fun out of the sport. With that said........

    Being good at something, just about anything you can think of, requires hard work, goal setting, and self discipline. These are qualities your daughter has proven to possess just by the level she's reached at age 11. IMO she has developed many life skills that you can take pride in as her mother, as you were always there to guide her along the way. I can see where it would be so hard to let her toss that all aside when she shows so much potential, but.......There's a difference between being good, and that's where she's at, and being great, and that's where you'd like her to get to. No problem with that, it's just part of being a parent.

    Just as being good requires certain things, reaching the level of "great" requires so much more. It isn't enough to work hard, set goals, and be disciplined in your work. The additional assets of a great gymnast must include talent, such as your daughter's, the good fortune to avoid injuries, and most of all passion for what you are doing.

    I can't say your daughter has never had "the passion", but is it something she once had, or was she just having fun, and didn't need it to get to this point. If she truely has no passion for the sport, she may need to move on to discover something she is passionate about, and in that sense she will experience one of the most valuable lessons in life.......knowing when, where, or what to dedicate your energy to.
  13. comp gym mom

    comp gym mom New Member

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    WOW.....thank you for all the replies. I am up at 5 am because I can't sleep due to this weighing so heavily on my mind. All of you gave me a LOT to think about. I do feel that her happiness is most important. I just worry that at age 11, it is hard to know the ramifications of such a big decision. She won Nationals this year. The talent is there. If the passion is not there anymore I really should honor her decision and let her quit. I am having such a hard time with this. I know what is right in my head, but I am having such a hard time letting go because she has been so successful in her career. The poster was right in that I need to look at all she has accomplished so far and be proud of that. She really has learned life lessons along the way that I am sure she will carry into her adult life as well. I am just really sad. Sad to watch her walk away from something that she excels at and I do watch her after practice. She is always laughing with her friends and appears to be having fun. She has said that she has felt this way for about a month, but she wanted to wait until after Nationals to say anything. She also said that she has accomplished all of her goals this year and she isn't happy with gymnastics anymore. This is such a hard thing to watch her do. I think I am more upset about it than she is. However, she doesn't even want to go and clean out her locker. She doesn't want to have to see everyone, which is why I question her decision so much. It is like she is turning her back on it and just walking away. Thanks again for all the wonderful and objective advice. I do appreciate it. Many of you have faced this already or are coming from a different perspective and it is nice to know that you have been in my shoes or have dealt with situations like this before. Thank you!
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  14. bogwoppit

    bogwoppit Administrator CBBC Board Member Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    My youngest quit when she was that age, she was just done. She had also done gym since she was three. She had shown less enthusiasm for a little while, but I knew when she told me she was done that she really was. She tried a less intense class for three months just to see, but when that course was done we both knew that was the end of the line for gym.

    So now she cheers, she loves it, she can still tumble and is happy. Which is really all I want.

    For me no matter what level they are, sometimes they are done and forcing them to do anything they don't want to do is just asking for trouble.

    I know some families who have gone through this at the same age and the parents were way more upset than the kids, this is also something to ponder.

    But you can be sure that there are lots of people here who have walked this path and still love gym. Both my girls have been done for over a year and I am still here!
  15. momnipotent

    momnipotent New Member

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    Now this I would not allow-if she wants to quit, she needs to go in (with you if she needs you there) and tell her coach she is quitting and say good-bye to her teammates. If you want to be done, be done, but you need to do it right-it's unkind to just disappear.
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  16. GymBee97

    GymBee97 New Member Proud Parent

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    I agree - If she wants to be done then she needs to go in to say she wants to quit to coach and goodbye to teammates. Clean out locker. The "its too sad/hard" excuse wouldn't fly with me because that is part of a life lesson too. that is part of making that decision to quit.

    I think too a talk with the coach to see if she/he sees this lack of passion happening too. Sometimes an "at a girl" is all that is needed from a coach. I would also let her know if she changes her mind she can always go back (might not be at the same level if she looses skills).

    If its the amount of time maybe an Excel/PrepOp program might be a choice - less hours but still competitions. I would still investigate the Why of it. I would also tell her that you paid lets say until the end of June so We will tell the coach at the end of June you won't be coming back. That gives her a few weeks to live with the idea that this is really going to be over too and gives her teammates a chance to give her a goodbye party.
  17. Faith

    Faith Coach Coach Proud Parent Former Gymnast

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    All good advice.

    I'd just like to add that 11 is quite a pivotal age, in addition to puberty, growth etc, they are at a position where they can see the next steps. Your daughter is Level 8, looking at the 9/10's and elites. She's seeing the work that needs to go in to get to the very top. It may seem unachievable to her at the moment, she's talented, so used to things coming slightly easier to her, and now she needs to work even harder and face stuff that can't be learned on talent alone.

    What does she want out of the sport? If she wants elite, but feels or knows she won't get there, she may want out the sport completely. For some, if you can't keep aiming for the top then there's no point. If that's your daughter, another sport might be good where she still feels she has the chance of being the best, or a less competitive sport which isn't time, hard work and commitment even to compete at lower levels.

    For others, they're happy to train and compete at their own level for the love of the sport. In which case prep op might be a good route.

    Good luck, whatever her decision.
  18. iwannacoach

    iwannacoach Coach Coach Proud Parent Gymnast

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    It's always worth a try. I used to co-own a gym, and early in my partnership, my partner's top kid walks in and says she's quitting. He had a brief chat with her which yielded nothing, so he asked if I wanted to talk to her. She and I had a 30 minute or so conversation where she opened up about her reasons for quitting, most of which revolved around her coach (my partner) being so focused on getting to "the top level" that she felt, well let's put it this way........

    Imagine being 11yo, and all you hear from somebody you respect and seek approval from, is that your legs crossed during your triple, your kick-over lay-outs are too low, you have to run faster, and, and , and......Her perception was that he didn't care about her, and to him it was all about his dreams, his goals, and that she was just a neccesary ingredient.


    Well, we got that one straightened out!!! She continued on for the next for years, spending one of them on the Jr National team, and upon leaving after her senior year, received a full ride scholarship to a major west coast university.

    So....in the sense that the child I worked with didn't want to quit, and only wanted to feel valued, a conversation with the right coach may be a very good thing.:confused::):D:cool:
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  19. monkeysmom

    monkeysmom Guest

    I was a really into being a musician at one point in my life (and it's part of my retirement plan--another story). I think the other poster's suggest of giving it some time is a good idea, based on observation of friends, other musicians, parents over the years as it pertains to music. As the other posters have said, she is at the age where social life becomes really important. And she may also be feeling "trapped" by this choice and committment, because she can probably barely remember when this whole gym thing started (and it was a combination of both her motivation and yours, and dare I say mostly your choice in the beginning since your brought her there and paid for it). And now it's time for her to decide whether it is her choice. With that said, I can't even tell you how many times I have heard adults say that they wished their parents would have encouraged them as children to stick with it when they quit piano, guitar, or whatever instrument they played. So many kids hit bumpy periods right at this age. I also know some Suzuki kids who quit and never had regrets (but still came out of it with lots of benefit--good correlation with math skills, music appreciation etc). Just a suggestion and I may be completely wrong, but maybe all she needs is to know that she CAN quit and to receive some reinforcement that you love her unconditionally and will support whatever she pursues. One possible parenting strategy instead of taking a total break, might be to talk to her about trying to work through the bumpy period and set a target date (let's say October 15 or something). If she feels the same way on that date she can quit or take a break. Maybe just knowing it is her own choice what to do, and giving it some time, will help her transition to that next phase of self-motivation. Or if she does quit, she'll know she didn't do it on a whim when she was having a bad month or week and then really regret it. And she won't miss the important summer training months, and then later in the fall feel like she burned bridges and can't come back/fell behind etc.
  20. wallinbl

    wallinbl New Member Proud Parent

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    I feel for you and I fear when this day comes in my family. I quit soccer too early and I regret it. I have various friends who have similar stories about their own sports. I stayed with the idea of going to medical school for too long. I have friends who were pushed into staying with something for too long. The only thing I can say is to try to have a conversation that reveals the true feelings, whether they're passion for something else, failure to get approval, fear of failure, a hidden injury, social pressure, etc. Only then will you know whether quitting is the right thing. Figuring out how to have this conversation with anyone is difficult, but it comes out of genuine love, concern and selflessness. My wife is good at it, but I'm terrible at it.

    In the end, this struggle will help you teach your DD to understand herself better and that's an important thing to learn.
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