For Parents Changing gyms? What do you think?

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Dad1234

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My daughter is six and is competing her second year of level 2. She recently started saying that she doesn’t want to go to practice and that she hates gymnastics and wants to quit. After several conversations, it came out that she doesn’t like two of her coaches. When we talk about checking out other gyms, her face lights up. She doesn’t want to move to the next level because she doesn’t like the coach for the next level (who is also one of her current coaches). I know she hasn’t lost her love of the gym because she enjoys practice when she has coaches that she likes. She has been in love with gymnastics the past couple of years and saying she hates it and wants to quit is new this season, as she has different coaches. I watch practice often and I don’t see any major red flags with the coaches that she doesn’t like. They have on occasion yelled at my daughter or the team but that is rare and I’m able to chalk that up to everyone has a bad day every once in awhile. The one coach is not really child friendly and does tend to use a mean tone at times. The other coach kinda makes subtle verbal jabs at the kids but they are not necessarily inappropriate or anywhere along the lines of abusive. I do think my daughter picks up on that as she is smart for her age. I think she might feel that she just can’t do it good enough for this coach. My daughter loves the coaches who take the time to build a relationship with her and the two coaches she doesn’t care for, don’t take the time to build a relationship with her or are too focused on practice to allow for relationship building. I’m unsure if her not liking the coaches is a reason to leave the gym and look at other gyms. If it’s no longer fun for her then I don’t see the point of her continuing to do it, but I know deep down she loves the sport and competing, so I would hate for her to quit. I know there is always going to be coaches that a child might not care for but we are at a small gym and she would have both of these coaches for the next several years. Thoughts??
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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We left a gym in large part because my kid didn't want to go to the next level up if the same coach was coaching it. Best decision. Gymnastics is too hard to stay somewhere where they are not happy. If she's 6 and already knows her mind well enough to be able to tell you she wants to change gyms, then do it.

DD's pre-team (levels 1-3) coach also never yelled, but only coached from a place of negativity. It was something parents couldn't really see or hear but it was a constant grinding down of their spirit. Not worth it. See what else is out there.
 

ldw4mlo

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Stay or go. As long as you have solid reasons (not just because she doesn’t like something, and not liking something is very different from miserable all the time) and are comfortable and trust where she is.

A real issue to think about. If you chose to move her.....
What happens the next time she doesn’t like something or someone?

The reality is gymnastics is hard. There are lots of challenges that they just may not “like”. We like our coaches. Both parents and my child. Some she likes better then others. They are all humans. Some gymmies on her team have issues and get on her last nerve at times. Sometimes her and her good buddies, are having a bit too much fun and not enough focus. That might make their coaches cranky.. Everyone has bad days.... kids and coaches. They all have their own styles too. So being able deal with each other’s styles is important. So that might be a move reason.And as the gymnastics gets harder, the training gets more serious. It just does. Middle school is not the same as Kindy, if you will....

So you move her and what happens when she doesn’t like it there?

For a bit of backstory. We had 2 fork in the road moments. I moved my kid from a gym she loved at 6 1/2. Because their program was not a good fit for us. She was pretty miserable about it and the new gym. For about a month.. settled in quite nicely...

In grade 5 one spring she was sure she wanted to quit. We (parents) felt she just had a long challenging season and some spring fever. Told her to stick with it and if by the end of summer she wanted to be done she could be.

Now in 8th grade, having dealt with a couple injuries, puberty, middle school stuff, the loss of some teammates moving on. She is having her best year ever. Her teammates who she has now been with 7 years are a tight bunch of L8 and L9s.And there are still days the coaches are cranky or some of the other kids bug them.....

Do what’s best. And as they get older they have more of a say.... but she is 6. At 6 mine hated brushing her teeth and wanted candy for breakfast. Some things as parents we have to decide.

And if she is truly miserable then move her.
 

Sk8ermaiden

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Oh see, I have the complete opposite view. In my experience, kids at 4, 5, 6, 7 only wanted to please mom and please their coaches. They put up with just about anything to do so. They were coached very, very hard and constantly belittled, and none ever complained. If they were willing to actually ask to change gyms, that by itself was in indicator of how miserable they were. Maybe that was a symptom of the kind of girls our first gym put on their pre-team. (Obedient, hard working, eager to please.) Whereas now that they are older there are scary skills, cliques, growth spurts and a million things that could be influencing their feelings.

I guess the question is, how long has she been feeling this way? Most moms I knew when DD was that age had a month policy - if you still feel like you want to (change gyms, quit) in a month, we will do it.
 

ldw4mlo

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Oh see, I have the complete opposite view. In my experience, kids at 4, 5, 6, 7 only wanted to please mom and please their coaches. They put up with just about anything to do so. They were coached very, very hard and constantly belittled, and none ever complained. If they were willing to actually ask to change gyms, that by itself was in indicator of how miserable they were. Maybe that was a symptom of the kind of girls our first gym put on their pre-team. (Obedient, hard working, eager to please.) Whereas now that they are older there are scary skills, cliques, growth spurts and a million things that could be influencing their feelings.

I guess the question is, how long has she been feeling this way? Most moms I knew when DD was that age had a month policy - if you still feel like you want to (change gyms, quit) in a month, we will do it.
Again there is a difference between not liking it and miserable. A difference between occasional challenges and a bad or abusive fit. If it’s a bad or abusive fit of course you move them.

I don’t know the child or the the gym. I do know that at some point things get less “fun” and more serious. And that is an adjustment at that age. 6 yr olds not liking things in the moment are pretty common.

At that age, my kid has just started team and did not want to wear a Leo. up until that point it was shorts and shirts. We even started with a unitard. I can not describe to you how she carried on. I had to fight her into the thing, fight her into the car. So worked up she fell asleep but woke up carrying on at gym. The coach carried her kicking and screaming onto the floor. A team mom looked at me and said maybe she is just not cut out for competive gymnastics. I was like she has no clue what competive gymnastics is. This is about a Leo. She came off the floor at the end of practice chatty and happy. Never had Leo drama again. And the only time she ever wears a Leo without shorts is a meet.

My point was stay or go, do what’s best for your kid and family. But as she is very little, give some thought to what happens, what’s the plan, when she doesn’t like the next thing. That’s all.
 

Flippin'A

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If my child told me repeatedly that she hates gymnastics and wants to quit I'd definitely be looking at other options. Either other gyms where she might be happier or other activities she might enjoy instead. Since it sounds like the issue is with a few coaches in particular, then a gym switch sounds like something to seriously consider. Gymnastics isn't mandatory, and forcing her to do it when she's expressed to you that she doesn't want to just tells her that she doesn't get to make decisions for herself. Of course there are things that we have to make our kids do (get a shot, brush their teeth, get an education, etc.) but gymnastics isn't one of those things so in my mind it should be up to her. Since she's so young it might be a good idea to give her a time frame (if you still want to quit in two weeks/one month/whatever) so you can be sure it's not just the result of a couple bad days. In my house there are some things that are "have to"s but gymnastics is a "get to."
 

TumbleTimes4

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My DD has had two different coaches. She liked both, but one of them has a style that has been a better fit for and her gymnastics improved tremendously under her. My DD is also cautious, needs to ease into bigger skills, and has a perfectionist mindset that causes her anxiety. Her coach understands that because of the relationship they have built and my DD trusts her. I think It’s important for a child to trust their coach, especially when it comes time to start learning the bigger skills. Now there are days where my DD may not like what her coach has asked her to do, and every coach has an off day, but the trust is still there.

If my DD were at a gym with a program and philosophy that we liked, safety and/or abuse weren’t issues, and she would only have a coach that she didn’t care for for maybe a year or two, I would encourage her to stick it out. It builds character to learn to work with people you may not like. But if my DD was going to be with that coach for several years, I’d probably look at different gyms. I think the relationship and trust between a coach and gymnast is very important the higher up the levels they go.
 

jamieintexas

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Gymnastics should be your child’s happy place. She has told you that she doesn’t like her coaches and is excited to look at other gyms. It is time to listen to her. I have been coaching for 34 years, I have gotten kids from other gyms that have thrived with me and I have had kids go to other gyms and thrive with their new coaches. That doesn’t mean that sometimes my girls don’t hate me, everybody has a rough time or a hard trick that we work through. She needs to feel safe, comfortable and loved by her coaches.
 

LJL07

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Oh see, I have the complete opposite view. In my experience, kids at 4, 5, 6, 7 only wanted to please mom and please their coaches. They put up with just about anything to do so. They were coached very, very hard and constantly belittled, and none ever complained. If they were willing to actually ask to change gyms, that by itself was in indicator of how miserable they were. Maybe that was a symptom of the kind of girls our first gym put on their pre-team. (Obedient, hard working, eager to please.) Whereas now that they are older there are scary skills, cliques, growth spurts and a million things that could be influencing their feelings.

I guess the question is, how long has she been feeling this way? Most moms I knew when DD was that age had a month policy - if you still feel like you want to (change gyms, quit) in a month, we will do it.
This was our experience at our previous gym which was a gym with a bunch of successful compulsories that were put on team around 4-5 years old. It was very intentional grooming behavior and produces a very obedient bunch of little girls on levels 1-4 until the skills get too scary. That is when the tears and complaining starts. This was a clear pattern. My youngest daughter also wanted to quit gymnastics, yet out of the gym seemed to love gymnastics. Pretty much all of the kids reach a breaking point eventually at that gym, but my daughter is sensitive and a perfectionist and was becoming increasingly anxious. We moved her to a different gym, and she has not complained a single time about going to practice since. I am not saying that what I described at our previous gym is going on at your gym, and I agree that there will always be coaches and teachers your child will have to learn to work with. On the other hand, if this behavior isn't characteristic of your child, trust your parent gut on this.
 
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Sk8ermaiden

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This was our experience at our previous gym which was a gym with a bunch of successful compulsories that were put on team around 4-5 years old. It was very intentional grooming behavior and produces a very obedient bunch of little girls on levels 1-4 until the skills get too scary. That is when the tears and complaining starts. This was a clear pattern. My youngest daughter also wanted to quit gymnastics, yet out of the gym seemed to love gymnastics. Pretty much all of the kids reach a breaking point eventually at that gym, but my daughter is sensitive and a perfectionist and was becoming increasingly anxious. We moved her to a different gym, and she has not complained a single time about going to practice since. I am not saying that what I described at our previous gym is going on at your gym, and I agree that there will always be coaches and teachers your child will have to learn to work with. On the other hand, if this behavior isn't characteristic of your child, trust your parent gut on this.
When the Nassar thing broke, and there was so much information available about how these gymnasts ended up being perfect victims due to a lifetime of being taught not to speak out for themselves or trust their own judgement, and to do what they were told no matter what...I was like...oh. I have seen how that starts, in person. It really became clear to me over time that they take compliant "pleasers" on purpose and then break their spirits (I literally had the preteam coach say that, in slightly different words) really young, so they will grow to be perfect gymnastics robots. When it all came into focus it was so, so gross.

Also NOT saying that is what is happening with the OP, at all. Just an aside, and why I also belive in really listening to young kids who are telling you what they want in a sport that asks so much of them.
 

josie55

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One of my kids (not my gymnast) has always been attune to people’s moods and feelings. She needed to connect with teachers and picked up on bad moods and feelings, and it impacted her ability to learn and be happy. It sounds like your daughter is the same way. I would look to move her. It doesn’t mean the current coaches are bad or mean, but it may be that they are not the right fit for your dd. In terms of “what happens the next time she doesn’t like her coach” I will say that as she matures, it will be less of an issue and she will learn to roll with things more. For now, it matters and I would address it. Good luck!
 

NutterButter

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Your DD is so young and if she isn’t happy at the gym then I’d suggest finding a new gym. Perhaps one that has a different philosophy.

Your DD sounds very similar to my DD and you described my DD as well with your comments on the relationship being important. My DD is a senior now but this has caused my DD lots of stress over the years when she perceived a coach as not liking her or ‘being mean’. Most of the time it came down to my DD not having that relationship you mention. My DD was older when she started gymnastics and since she has 5 different coaches, it was easy to work with my DD on coping skills for the one coach over the years that she didn’t like. Until recently, I always appreciated the philosophy of the gym, so even when there was one coach in the mix who my DD didn’t gel with, I never doubted the gym as a whole.

Things recently changed though. The one coach my DD has struggled with for 4+ years was named head coach in the last year. Since then she has imposed her style on the other event coaches which is making a very miserable experience for my DD. She used to have the new head coach on just one event, now she feels like she has the coach on all events. The philosophy of the gym has changed since the new HC took over. Things were so bad for my DD recently that she gave serious consideration to quitting. As a parent, it’s been heartbreaking for me to see my DD’s spark for gymnastics almost extinguished.

All of that to say that I encourage you to take your DD‘s desires seriously now. But also know that she may feel the same way about another coach in the future. Your DD will always mesh with some coaches better than others but at all times you need to feel that the gym has the philosophy that is best for your DD.
 

LJL07

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When the Nassar thing broke, and there was so much information available about how these gymnasts ended up being perfect victims due to a lifetime of being taught not to speak out for themselves or trust their own judgement, and to do what they were told no matter what...I was like...oh. I have seen how that starts, in person. It really became clear to me over time that they take compliant "pleasers" on purpose and then break their spirits (I literally had the preteam coach say that, in slightly different words) really young, so they will grow to be perfect gymnastics robots. When it all came into focus it was so, so gross.

Also NOT saying that is what is happening with the OP, at all. Just an aside, and why I also belive in really listening to young kids who are telling you what they want in a sport that asks so much of them.
Yes, and I try to speak up about this because it really takes a village. I watched the parents become totally complicit in this. They were bribing their kids to go to practice and reasoning away any misgivings.
 
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ldw4mlo

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Yes, and I try to speak up about this because it really takes a village. I watched the parents become totally complicit in this. They were bribing their kids to go to practice and reasoning away any misgivings.
To be clear, no one condones or suggests putting up with abuse

Based on what the OP posted.....

The gym environment doesn’t sound remotely like an abusive predatory situation folks are describing.

Perhaps not a good fit, but not toxic.
 

LJL07

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To be clear, no one condones or suggests putting up with abuse

Based on what the OP posted.....

The gym environment doesn’t sound remotely like an abusive predatory situation folks are describing.

Perhaps not a good fit, but not toxic.
Why are you trying to start an argument? Where did I suggest in any way that someone on this thread was condoning abuse?? I specifically stated that our experience might not parallel this person's experience in any way--it certainly could be an instance of simply not being a good fit. I think it is important to reiterate how important it is to be mindful with these very young children in light of how very toxic the gymnastics culture has been. I can assure you that none of the level 2 or 3 parents at the gym I've mentioned think their children are being abused or can see anything overt happening from the lobby. Unless the parent is out on the floor with the coaches, it is hard to know EXACTLY what is being said or communicated to these very young children.
 

Avasmom

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Here's my opinion. My daughter was older when we moved gyms. She was in 3rd grade so a couple of years older than yours. She never said she wanted to quit but she did say my coach doesn't believe in me. She lets _____ and _____ do harder skills because they score high at all of the meets. So I started popping in to see if she was just a kid saying stuff or if it was legit. Sure enough _____ and ______ got to work one on one with the coach on higher level skills where the girls who weren't scoring as high at meets were all waiting in line to practice. Once I saw it with my own eyes I went to the HC who was best friends with dd's coach. I was told I needed to give the coach a chance. Needless to say nothing was done and nothing was going to be done. DD had all of her gold skills but her coach was moving up. They wanted to hold dd back because I said she would not work with that coach again. With all of that said, give your dd the benefit of the doubt. Mine was absolutely right and the gym change was the best thing she has ever done. The gym we switched to treats all the girls the same, whether they are scoring 33's or 37's. My dd just completed level 5 and is working towards 7. If we would have stayed at our old gym there is no way she would be the level she is today because they don't have any optionals this year. All the girls quit. Do your research though and don't leave on bad terms. I give full credit to dd's first gym for giving her the love of gymnastics. Good luck in your decision.
 
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