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For Parents Emotional or something else?

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MuggleMom

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So my DD is going through some emotional turbulence right now. She both loves gym and doesn't want to go. Its causing lots of heart ache and tears and frustration both for her and my family. She will go to gym but then once there sometimes just say she is tired or sore and wants to leave. But at the same time she doesn't want to leave. Then she will cry if I say we are leaving but cry if I tell her she has to go back out to practice. Sometimes she is having a great day till its time to go to gym but doesn't want to go and gets really upset if we tell her she needs to go. Sometimes she goes and has a great practice. Sometimes she gets really upset we help her calm back down and she goes back in and its like nothing every happened she is great practice is great gymnastics is great.

She just got her floor routine and is really excited about it but still not 100% wanting to go to practice. She loves gym and will get near hysterical if I try to say maybe its time to stop (or do less hours, do rec or do excel or do another sport) but at the same time she doesn't want to go to practice either. I have had numerous conversations with her, she doesn't have issues with her coaches, she doesn't have issues with the skills, there isn't anything she is afraid of, shes not worried about competitions, she likes her group but does miss friends in a different group, she really likes the skills she is doing and she is doing good at everything as well (I have asked directly and indirectly and just trust that its not some hidden issue at the gym). Its just a Mystery.

She is almost 10yo Level 6 and 20 hours a week. I have told her between now and when we have to pay our first escrow payments for meets (mid September) there are 17 practices. If she misses more than she goes then we are done with gym (and i have told her its OK to be done with gym) Going to practice each time will be her choice I will not argue or try to convince her of anything just are we going to day? ok sounds good. She was upset by this plan because she doesnt want to stop gymnastics but I asked if this was fair and she agreed it was. I told her I could just decide for her but I wont do that choosing to go to practice is her choice and if she is choosing to NOT go that means she doesnt want to do gym.

She does tend to go through phases with some anxiousness (every 6 months or so). I plan on talking with her Dr about anxiety and about puberty when we go next month. I am just wondering has anyone lived in this limbo before? Am I handling this the right way? My husbands says at times I coddle her too much but I dont want to take away something she loves but I also don't want to let her torture herself about something either. Is this puberty? and if it is God help me I am not an emotional or anxious person by nature so while I empathize I cant always relate to what is going on with her. This would all be easier if it was a clear issue (she hates it but doesnt want to quit, or there is an issue with X person or skill that can be resolved or changed etc, even a mental block I feel like we could ride out)

I always get good advice here so just wanted to see if anyone has a perspective on this I hadn't thought of.
 

cp13

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My daughter is 13. She went through a phase similar to what you are describing when she moved up to L6. She also has a history of anxiety. The change in coaching stressed her out as well as the extra intensity of conditioning with the optional team. She wasn't comfortable pushing to get new skills and she felt a lot of stress with the expectations of upgrades. Also, the adjustment from 12 to 18 hours was difficult for her. There was a lot of crying and not wanting to go to practice or coming down with various illnesses so that she didn't have to go. She was only in the new level for a month and I had hoped she would push through the adjustment period and then make a decision but after a week of her refusing to go to practice (after erratic attendance for a couple of weeks before that), I told her she had to make a decision. She chose to move to Xcel and has been happily going to practice all summer and she is hoping to compete platinum. She did diving this summer and had a blast. She needed the pressure off and she doesn't want 18 hours per week. I still wonder sometimes if she will regret her decision but I think she wants more balance and does not like serious training. I would give it some time and then also see if you can get to the bottom of what is stressing her out and then maybe you can work through it. My daughter was very conflicted during that time in L6. Some days she was excited about gym. The next day she would refuse to go. I could see that she was at war with herself in her head about gym. She loved it but the demands of optionals were getting to her. Good luck! It's difficult and stressful.
 

cp13

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I would add, I think there is a lot of value in an anxious kid persevering and working through a difficult time. My daughter went through similar struggles when she moved up to L3 and she pushed through and continued in the sport for several more years. However, at L6, I had to take a step back. No kid has to do optional level gymnastics. If the joy has gone out of it and it's a job, they have every right to find an activity less demanding.
 

John

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@MuggleMom I would ask you what your heart tells you your daughter wants. I think if anyone knows her it is you.

I see only a few solutions to your problem. The one that works for me would go like this. Force a mandated break and see how she reacts. Is she happy at home not going to gym? Then maybe she wanted you to give her an out? Does she drive you crazy jumping around doing gymnastics? Then maybe she misses it truly loves it and there is a problem you are not aware of at the gym. Maybe, in this case, you could get to the bottom or look at a gym change.

I think when they want out they get lost. They only know themselves as "JO" gymnasts. Maybe moving to xcel would be easier at a new gym with new friends that only know her as an xcel gymnast.

Just my thought. I feel for you and hope it works out.
 

GymDadWA

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Agree with @John her identity is as a JO gymnast, the fear of not knowing who you are probably scares her. Has she tried something else (Dance, Diving, Cheer, Etc.) maybe try something else and either she will be OK knowing there are other things out there for her, or it will re-kindle her love of gymnastics, either way at least she knows.

Alternatively maybe she does have something like a thyroid or hormonal issue that is making her tire out quickly, or simply not eating enough or eating enough carbs.
 
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MuggleMom

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My heart tells me she is in a rut and she does want to be there. She definately has a history of what I call "big feelings" where she is upset and doesnt know why and when its passed she is back to herself. She is also definitely more upset about not being there than being there. I feel like in the short term she would like excel but in the long term she would like JO better so I dont really see her making the switch even though it could help her with what she is dealing with now. Whenever she is at home she is doing gym stuff-- practicing her routine for floor handstands conditioning stuff. She has a gymnastics pinterest board where she collects quotes etc. I love her but she is driving me nuts right now but I process things differently.
 
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John

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@MuggleMom with continued gym at home and being upset not going makes me think she is not ready to move on. Is a new gym in the works? Could you speak to the coaches about leaving one day early a week? Seems like you need to move towards making some kind of change that would help her see her desired path. Maybe even a meaningless gym trial at another gym?

My daughter has done a few days with an elite gym from time to time over the past two years. They like her but She does this with a gentle push from me. It helps her refocus her on her path, gain confidence, and see that other coaches have good things to say.

Good luck helping her find her way.
 
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kendo348

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I would add that I’ve heard - and my own experience with my two older kids supports this - nine seems to be an age at which you get the first hints of emotional upheaval/hormonal change especially in girls. They aren’t really to puberty yet, but it’s like their emotions take it out for a short test drive haha. So she could just be feeling out of sorts and not sure how to deal with it. Unless of course the issue is confined only to gym and she seems fine in the rest of her life, in which case that’s probably not the source of the problem.
 

CLgym

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I think you are handling it perfectly! Just wanted to share that you are not alone. My DD (being treated for anxiety) also has periods when mysterious ailments result in her refusing to go to practice. For us, she will go months with no problems and then something (fears in gym? transition periods?) will trigger a bad stretch. This June she refused to go into the gym for 3 days in a row due to stomach aches, and I gave a similar ultimatum - either you attend practice, or you find another sport/activity. She went in the next day, and every day after that all summer (with one exception just recently). At the same time, we started therapy and tweaked her anxiety meds.

For reference, mine just turned 11yo and will supposedly be L8 (gym is training/planning L8 for her although she is not totally there yet). She will train 24 hours per week, attend full-day public school 35 hours per week, and spend approximately 7 hours per week in the car to/from the gym. This sport can be brutal for kids with anxiety!
 

bookworm

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Even though it is "their" sport, sometimes a gymnast wants permission, so to speak, to leave it....I get that she loves gymnastics but for me, if she's missing practices by her own choice more than she's going, then she is making a decision to at least take a break from the sport. For me gymnastics is way too expensive to be wishy washy in committing to it.

If she takes a break for a month or two and decides she wants to go back , fine...but with the understanding that it is a full commitment of going to practices as scheduled. If she tried to revert to the missing practice thing again, she'd be done, period. And the flip side, if she decides to never return to gymnastics after a month or two off, that's fine too.

I definitely would not be paying for any meets at all until she was attending practice regularly, without complaints, for at least 2 months.
 

ldw4mlo

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My daughters has had periods where she thought she didn’t want to do gym. But once actually there she was fine.

If she was skipping somewhat regularly and having frequent issues while in gym. It would be a time out at least to see where she really stands
 
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gymmomx2

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You say that she has anxiety. Anxiety is not rational, ultimatums won't work. I went through something very similar but much worse with my DD when she was 9. In her case, not going to gym upset her A LOT but she also couldn't bring herself to go. It lasted weeks during which the coaches and we agreed to a plan to handle it. Please PM me for specific details.
 

claudidoll

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You say that she has anxiety. Anxiety is not rational, ultimatums won't work. I went through something very similar but much worse with my DD when she was 9. In her case, not going to gym upset her A LOT but she also couldn't bring herself to go. It lasted weeks during which the coaches and we agreed to a plan to handle it. Please PM me for specific details.
Yep Anxiety is a beast and no amount of bribery or ultimatums will help. Mine went through a similar thing as gymmomx2 at the same age and I can vouch she was a great support.
 

gymmomtotwo

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Optional JO gymnastics requires an extraordinarily dedicated, resilient, focused, tough individual. They must be willing to weather painful injuries, long practices and overcome fear of scary skills. To keep going through all of it, it takes unwavering dedication. Your DD is telling you in as many ways as she can that JO is too much. It may be anxiety or she would just rather be doing something else. She may not even realize it.She doesn't want to go to practice when she is perfectly healthy. My obsessed kiddo was back in the gym doing whatever conditioning she could do 4 days after surgery. She was 11. Frankly I wish she would do something else, but she is all in. You can't do It half way. It is too much for most people. If she loves gym and wants to compete, then XCEL has been an amazing solution for many a gymnast. If she doesn't want to go to the gym, she doesn't want to do it bad enough.
 

Canadian Gym Mom

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My daughter went through the exact same thing last year as an 8 year old level 4 gymnast. She was practicing 12 hours/week. The episodes lasted a few months until summer. Summer training was great for her even though she was doing more hours. She was practicing in the after-noons and the episodes disappeared. In the end, we think the schedule was simply too much for her during school... Going to bed late during school nights because of gym practice and spending hours in trafic. It was obvious that she was burnt-out. It was too much for the entire family if I'm being honest!

This year, we are slowing things down. She is changing groups and will be doing 3 days/week instead of 4. It took a while to convince her, but she is much happier now. She is even proud that she persevered through the rough times and is more motivated than ever! It's an amazing feeling to see her happy again ☺️

We told her that there is no need to rush to the high levels. After-all, if she is more rested and motivated, she will most likely perform better and enjoy the ride a lot more! We'll see how it goes once school starts.
 

MuggleMom

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Well a little update: She went to practice yesterday no issues. It wasn't a perfect practice but she was still just fine. She seems in a better head space this week so that is good.

I want to thank you all for the advice it helps keep me sane AND I got some great new tips to help her deal and to be a part of the solution not part of the problem :)

Heres to hoping this "episode" has passed and that I am better prepared for the next one
 
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