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his own worst critic

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SPX

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How do you handle it when your gymnast is working hard and doing well but they are disappointed they aren't doing better?

I ask because Ds's 4th meet was this weekend and it was larger with tougher competition and fewer awards than most of the meets. He did well: 11th out of roughly 35 in level/division/age and 20th out of 115 in the whole level, top 10 in 4 events. A solid showing except floor where he dropped out of his handstand. He has teammates that would be elated with results like that. He is very disappointed. He is used to being in the top 5 all events except floor and being somewhere on the podium for aa. He is doubly frustrated that he was close. We've tried to channel that frustration into working harder in practice rather than disappointment but he really gets down on himself. I know this is a good lesson for him in a lot of ways but he only seems to see the deficiencies. Any advice for achieving a bit more balance?
 

profmom

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Do everything you can to get him to set goals for meets related to achieving skills and hitting routines. (Also encourage him to be supportive and empathetic with teammates who aren't competing the bonuses and getting high execution scores. It can be very frustrating for a less accomplished kid to have to listen to a strong kid pissing and moaning about missing a bonus that he isn't even working on.) Don't tell him, "oh, you are awesome, look at your placements in the entire meet session." Encourage him to count the bonuses he's added since the fall and to celebrate the routines that he hit. Five for six is a good day.

I do think that setting reasonable skill-related/hit routine goals can be huge for the guys in enabling them to make it for the long run. They will almost all go through phases where it gets really hard and where certain events just are not working for them. Learning that frame when they are compulsories will make it easier to survive that point in optionals where a one-fall pommel routine is a good day.
 

Sourkey

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Aug 5, 2017
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My kid is the same. He has only had two meets and he isn’t doing as well as he thought he would and he has been making lots of mistakes on things he’s otherwise extremely strong.

I’ve tried to talk him through some of it by having him set some goals (as described above) for the next meet. Like hitting some sort of skill for a bonus, swinging higher on the rings, getting .3-.4 higher on pbars, whatever he wants. He has been reviewing his videos to see where he can spot deductions (this is all him, not me!)

His overall placement went down in the second meet but his AA score went up, so he was happy to see that. He was mostly disappointed that he only came away with two medals but his scores had also gone down on four events (but again, we focused on the higher AA score).

I find it tough to get him to be happy with his results and he somehow seems happier by focusing on little goals. I also had to talk to him about not saying anything in front of his teammate who was elated to finally get one medal.
 
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Madden3

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You can guide him to focus on improvements in his own skills/scores and overall personal improvement and not placement or comparison of his scores to others.

Long run, I know it is a cliché but it is character building to learn to "lose" gracefully and to learn from the experience. Winning lots now will make for a happy kid but does not set a person up for a happy (fulfilling) adulthood. Learning to face adversity without undue upset and to use adversity to motivate, will.

Of course you cannot expect your child to understand or care about how this will help him be a better adult. However you can teach him the basics of being a good sport in all situations and have the expectation that he will display appropriate behavior even when he is experiencing negative feelings. Learning self control in this regard is another skill that will help him be a happier adult.
 
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SPX

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Thanks for the replies and advice. Getting him to focus on skills is what we need to do. m
Mostly he did that on his own until this year.There are couple new kids on the team who are very focused on scores and i think it also developmental the boys are more aware of each other and comparing more.
what really has given him trouble was that on some events he executed much better than previous meeets where he medaled and got nothing. But rings where his execution was a bit less and he dropped a bonus he got a medal. The inconsistent nature bothers him. So we talked a bunch about how variable judging and the field of competitors are and why that might not be a great measure for his progress. And that his progression through skills and his execution were better things to track and set goals on.

He had come a long way on considering other people's feelings but we still have some way to go there, both in terms of not inadvertently making others feel bad but also in not giving too much weight to their criticism or praise. These are all good lessons but a bit tough to watch.
 
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Madden3

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I think that placement is not so much inconsistent as utterly arbitrary. Unless he is competing against exactly the same boys every meet, and he and they are all at their very best (or otherwise aligned) every meet. And even then the placement is only meaningful as far as that group, and not universally meaningful.

Here is what I have found helpful:
My kids do not look at meetscores online type sites. I did not even know such things existed our first several years of competing so that made it easy to avoid. And I try to not look either, and when I do, it is in private. Sometimes comparing scores helps- for my kids, sometimes knowing that the difference between not so good and quite good is measured in tenths helps. But this depends on the kid.

Let them find the positives when they can, as they can surprise you. I have probably told this story before, but my proudest moment as a gym mom was when at the end of a really rough season, my then 9 year old DS told me he thought it was good season because his overall score improvement from start of season to end of season was so much greater than any previous season. I had been so focused on other things I had not even noticed this. Another example is older DS is having a rough time scorewise now, because he is an 8 with routines of very low start value (not as a strategy, that is just where he is.) Even when he does his routines very well, he is way behind. But he so far has remained focused on simply being glad he is an 8. Of course the season just started so we shall see.

I have also found that pointing out to my kids that negativity hurts them sometimes helps more than asking them to focus on sparing the feelings of others. Boys care about other people just as girls do- the idea they do not is very damaging and wrong. But in my opinion they care with an entirely different nuance then girls. (Please understand I am talking in broad generalities for the purpose of this discussion.) Also, he might benefit from just a tweak in his focus? I imagine your son's disappointment is perhaps heightened because he feels there is injustice in the system. This sense of justice can of course be a very positive but needs to be directed appropriately. For both boys and girls the ages of 9-12 is where this impulse to fight injustice typically arises and can be very strong. But it needs to be directed because they might tend to see injustice behind every bush.

I was curious so I asked my younger DS if the boys talk about scores. He told me that for the most part, they don't. I am not sure why, but maybe it has to do with how the coach handles it? At the next practice after a meet, the coach does a post mortem with the group, tells them what to work on (mostly as a group, but will sometimes give specific feedback to one boy) but of course this is all done with utmost respect and kindness and positivity. And then that is it, it is on to the next meet, no more rehashing.
 
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