For Parents How do I know if she wants it or if I want it?

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ellabella

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May 26, 2008
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I have been a gymnastics fan for about 20 years. Not a casual fan, but the kind of fan who can tell you anything and everything about every competition that has happenned in the last 2 decades. I've gone to many World Championships and every Nationals since I was old enough to go by myself.

I have a 3 year old daughter who is doing preschool gym. She has been going for about 2 months. I waited as long as possible to put her in a class because I wanted her to want to do it. Her dad coaches so she was practically born in the gym. She has always played at his gym. Finally I signed her up for a class at a different gym. I've been very noncommitted, probably to the extreme. Her class is in the morning and if she doesn't want to wake-up I won't take her. I just want to to make sure it's her thing and not mine. I know it's inevitable that she'll want to do gymnastics because she's surrounded by it, but I don't want to push her in any way. That's why I took her to a gym where no one would know her father coaches. I didn't want anyone to have any expectations for her.

So now they've asked her to be in their developmental class. She would have to go 3 hours a week. For any other parent it would be a simple decision. Sure let's try it and see how it goes. I'm being silly I know. I love gymnastics and if she loves it I would be really happy. I just want to make sure she doesn't love it because her father and I do.

Any other parents out there that where gym fans or coaches before having children? How do you deal with you child wanting to do gym? How do you determine if they are doing it because they want to or if it's because they know nothing else?
 
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3hrs a week for a 3 year old?

I dont know of any programs in the UK that up the hours that early on, but could be wrong, of course!

I just think they should be having fun and trying out a lot of different activities at that age.
 

gymmomntc2e6

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Aug 25, 2007
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I think that it is sometimes hard to tell who you are doing it for. I think you need to watch her in class w/ an open mind. Does she seem to be having fun or is she just going through the motions?

We had a mom @ our gym last year who's dd was in a dance / gymnastics class. 45 in each one day a week. This child cried every time they moved from dance to gym. she would refuse to do things and just sit on the floor. or, she would behave so bad that the coaches spent most of the class dealing w/ her tantrums and trying to get her to participate. The mom rarely watched. When she did she would say things like " I don't know what is wrong w/ DD today - she does not seem to be into it ":eek: Those of us sitting there were always thinking "she is like this every class. She does not want to be here"

This mom would also complain about the 1hr drive each way to bring this poor 4yr old to a class she did not want to take. It was very sad.

Anyway, I think you need to have an open mind and try to watch objectively. I do think 3 hours a week is a lot for a 3yr old. But you know your child and that would have to be your call.

Good Luck
 

Aussie_coach

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It sounds like your fear of pushing her is sending you the other way completly and this can be just as much of a problem. You will know if your daughter doesnt enjoy gymnastics because it will be quite obvious. She will complain about going or try to refuse to go, and ask you to go home. If she is not acting this way then the odds are she does enjoy it.
 

gymnomore

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Aug 3, 2007
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I agree with Aussie Coach. It sounds like your fear of trying to push her is making you skeptical of getting her involved in gymnastics. Relax! As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing wrong with wanting your child to be a gymnast simply because of your love for the sport. Most children that age love organized activities and if you happen to be taking her to a gym, then what is there not to like? If she doesn't want to be there, she'll let you know and then you can make a decision whether or not to pull her out. I was a former coach way back in the day, and I was teaching tumbling classes while I was pregnant, unknowingly. I used to laugh about how my dd got gymnastics instruction before she was even born! She started gym classes as soon as she could walk and we both enjoyed it for many years. And yes, she was a gymnast because I wanted her to be one and I encouraged it. Did she complain? No, she loved it and many of her friends wished their parents had given them the same opportunity. I used to tell my husband that if she had been a boy, he'd be out on the football field with him as much as I have her in the gym. There will come a time that she'll want to try other sports and when that time comes, by all means let her. Until then, as long as she's having fun- go for it!
 

mariposa

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I struggle with a different side of it. I would rather she NOT do gymnastics, so anytime she seems frustrated with it, I ask her if she wants to quit. Probably not the best thing to do. I have so many issues with it, but have slowly been trying to just enjoy this time and let her do what she loves to do.

As for your DD, I would follow her lead. I personally think 3 is too young for 3 hours a week, but that is just me. At 3, I would have her try other things as well. If the talent is there, it isn't going to disappear. I have seen kids walk in at 5 and 6 and do amazing, they have the natural ability and it just happens. My concern with them starting so young is that if they truly are talented and stick with it and started early with lots of hours, they can end up burning out, plus it just adds to the years of stress on their bodies.

Have fun watching her have fun. She is only 3. There is plenty of time for more serious gymnastics.
 

gym law mom

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At age 3 children live literally "in the moment." They don't have the cognitive skills yet to plan ahead, pick and choose etc. So, your dd will enjoy many things as she grows. Right now, she's at a stage where she'll like movement, color(all kinds of stimulation), being in groups etc. Gymnastics is just one little part of that world. You said sometimes you let her just sleep in and skip gym. Does she ever realize she's missed a class and in some way show you she's upset about it or really doesn't seem to care?

As many others have expressed, this is her time to try different things---dance, art, swimming etc. She may looked like she's "hooked" on 1 activity for 3-4 mos and then lose interest---perfectly normal. Personally, I would keep her in her 1x/week class(3 hours is just too much to ask of a 3yo) until she gets a little older and starts expressing either a desire to do more or saying "no." Just because dh is coach and you're a fan doesn't mean dd will end up doing gymnastics. Some kids when surrounded by parents who are involved in a sport, will somewhat rebel and pick something else-----they want to find their own "niche."
 
D

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Just wondering - does your DD's gym owner/coach know that her father is a coach in another gym? If they do not know about it, they might think you are gathering information (or spying!!) on their training methods, team setup etc.
 

Livinatthegym

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Feb 4, 2008
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I struggle with a different side of it. I would rather she NOT do gymnastics, so anytime she seems frustrated with it, I ask her if she wants to quit. Probably not the best thing to do. I have so many issues with it, but have slowly been trying to just enjoy this time and let her do what she loves to do.
LOL! That's so me. Every time my kids got frustrated I told them they could quit any time (ok, it was only dd1 that used to get frustrated. Nothing phases dd2). At team fee time, the other parents used to tease me. I though last year was dd1's last year? And I'd just roll my eyes and write the check.

However, I'll give you this as a positive spin on things . . . everybody at your gym will know that your dd is in it because that's what SHE wants. Lots of parents swear the gym is their child's choice, when really it's not. There's subtle pressure to be a gymnast. Your dd will never have that. I'd say give yourself a big pat on the back (and be prepared for a long haul; my dd1 did 5 years as a competative gymnast).

To the OP . . . if you're asking yourself the question (is it for her or me?), you're probably safe. If you suspect it might be a problem some day, you'll be on the look-out for it and can stop yourself from pushing.

FWIW, my opinion is that 3 hours a week in the gym is too much for a 3 year old. If she needs to be more active, do a once a week classs at the gym, and a once a week class at a dance studio, and Sunday school, and a mommy and me swim class or something. Let her try more things. Gymnastics talent won't go away. She can't compete lvl 4 until after her 6th birthday anyway, so no hurry.
 

mariposa

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LOL! That's so me. Every time my kids got frustrated I told them they could quit any time (ok, it was only dd1 that used to get frustrated. Nothing phases dd2). At team fee time, the other parents used to tease me. I though last year was dd1's last year? And I'd just roll my eyes and write the check.

However, I'll give you this as a positive spin on things . . . everybody at your gym will know that your dd is in it because that's what SHE wants. Lots of parents swear the gym is their child's choice, when really it's not. There's subtle pressure to be a gymnast. Your dd will never have that. I'd say give yourself a big pat on the back (and be prepared for a long haul; my dd1 did 5 years as a competative gymnast).
Right now I am the one that everyone (well, the other new L4s that moved up with DD) comes to with questions about gymnastics. Whenever I am anxious about something (happens a lot, anxiety issues) I research it up and down and then backwards. That usually freaks me out big time for awhile, then helps me to relax a bit and say okay.

When my DD started gymnastics almost 2 years ago, I had NO idea that there were little kids all over the country competing at age 6. I thought only kids training to be Olympic hopefuls were out there. I never even imagined that my DD would one day want to compete.

Even at my old gym, she wasn't one of the ones that was going to get chosen to move to the developmental classes (the ones that were never even on the schedule, sooo secretive, LOL). It took her almost a whole year to even learn how to do a cartwheel. :D So when we moved to the new gym and a few months after she started they said they wanted to move her to team, I was like, team? What is THAT?

So I started researching it and found out everything I could about competitive gymnastics. I almost didn't want to let her move to team, but I finally relaxed a bit and she moved to team in April.

It is still hard for me. At the slightest bit of disinterest, I ask if she wants to quit. The answer is usually no, except last week or so she was really missing her old coach and having a hard time with the difference betweeen her devo class (more fun, less conditioning, etc) and team.

I am even the one to be talking to the other moms about burn out, and if anyone starts saying their DD didn't want to come to practice again for the 5th time in a row, I talk to them about maybe giving them a break, etc.

I have decided I won't ask her if she wants to quit. I talked to her seriously about gymnastics, the time and money committment, and she said she does love team and really wants to compete. I told her that I just want her to be happy and as long as she is happy, I will support her. As soon as she is truly unhappy, that she needs to tell me and we will find something else for her to do.

I do want her to have other things (not sports) that she can identify with. She is a Girl Scout and will be singing in a homeschool choir this year.

I also cross my fingers that little DD doesn't want to be in gymnastics. I am going to try to put it off for as long as I can if she asks to do gymnastics. She loves the water so maybe swimming? Or dancing? Or soccer? Anything but gymnastics. LOL. I will of course let her if she really wants to.
 

ellabella

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May 26, 2008
176
Thanks for all the great opinions.

I'm still debating.

My daughter does already take dance one day a week for 45 minutes. It's actually "Creative Movement". They sing songs and act silly. She loves it, except for those days when I have to wake her up from her nap to go. Her class is at 4pm and she'll sleep later sometimes and it's horrible trying to get her up. She's grumpy if you have to wake her up. I usually make her go because she's fine once she gets there, but with her Saturday morning gym class I'll always let her sleep in if she doesn't wake up naturally. Sometimes she'll notice and sometimes she won't.

I guess I know she loves going. You guys are so right about her letting me know if she didn't want to be there. I just always figured that all 3 year olds love going to the gym. How could they not love jumping and climbing? But there are kids in her class that cry and won't participate.

She's not in daycare or school and she's an only child. I think it would probably be a lot if she was also going to school all day or daycare and then having to go to the gym. She's also very shy. She's been going to dance since last August and for the first time this past week she actually was talking to another girl in her class. I was so proud. I was thinking maybe going to the gym twice a week with the same kids might be good for her socially.

I must also admit that I'm slighty selfish and I hate getting up on Saturday mornings! It's my one day to sleep in and not have to get up and get dressed and go somewhere. The new class would be in the afternoon. The fitness gym is across the street and I'd have enough time to go to a Pilates class.

In response to the comments regarding talent not going away. I really don't see any talent. She can't do anything unusually well. She doesn't look any different than any other kid in her class ability wise. Her current class spans ages 3 - 5. Many of the older girls can do much more than her. So I don't really see any reason she was asked. The only thing she does well is that she is really focused. She does everything she is asked and waits her turn without speaking or moving. Most of the other kids can't stay still and are constantly running away or acting crazy. She's just shy. She's plenty crazy at home. She's also really small and built like a gymnast already. Perhaps that's the reason. She's almost 3 1/2 and weighs a whopping 24lbs and stands 35 inches. Her father is tiny as is his entire family. She definitely got his genes in that area. As a baby I weighed 23lbs when I was 6 months old. I noticed the thread about size, but couldn't post to it. We've definitely had to deal with doctors and lots of questions and concerns regarding her size. I finally had to drag my husband to an appointment and say "Look at him! This is her gene pool." My MIL is 4'10" and weighs less than 100 lbs.

I just picked the gym closest to our house. My husband coaches across town. I don't think they know he coaches. I'd certainly admit it if asked, but they don't have a high level team. It's a very new and small gym. They do have a team, but the highest is a level 9. No 10's or elites.

This has been quite the rambling post. Really I'm just putting my thoughts in to words as I contemplate the decision. I might see if they would let her go to the developmental class, but only once a week. I asked what the difference is and was told they spend more time on each event and that basically they are being groomed to be on team someday.

I do want her to do gymnastics. I think it would be great. My main concern is just making sure she wants it. Watching my husband coach and being part of that team has allowed me to see how fun gymnastics is for those girls. The thing I like the most about it is watching the girls and their friendships. I never had a lot of close girfriends as a teenager and the girls my husband coaches are like sisters. They are also such confident girls and they excel at everything they do. There are so many positives. I've also seen the really ugly crazy parents of course.

Thanks for listening!
 

bogwoppit

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If you want to reply to posts in the parent forum you will need to join a group. If you click on your profile you can then choose to join a social group, I would suggest that of parent, then you can come right in and chat with us.

Nice to see you on the Chalkbucket.
 

gym law mom

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At 3.5 she is just learning socialization skills and since she is the only child in the house right now, she does need contact with other children her own age. Shy ones at 3 can be little chatterboxes at 6! Her personality is just being formed. I really flinch when I hear of kids being directed to a sport based on body type. Just because they look like they have the perfect body for gym or whatever doesn't mean, that's what they want to do. I know my gymmie got alot of attention when she was 5-7 from skating coaches(older sis was the skater) because she was a good athlete and had " a skater's build." Thing is she didn't like it---called it boring. So, no more formal skating and she asked to do more gym---rest is history.

What ages would the girls be on the developmental team? Its already a stretch for her to be with 5yos in a rec class and that may be why she is rather shy. She really needs to be in classes with girls close to her own age/maturity. I think the compromise of 1x/week for developmental class would be something to try. If she seems to lose interest/focus, then switch back. Remember this is your child---not the gym's and you make the call.

No matter what group activity she ends up in: scoccer, dance, t-ball etc. she can still form those team relationships you see in the gym. You really won't know if gym is HER thing until she is much older and the desire/passion all come from her without any prompting from you.
 

ellabella

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May 26, 2008
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Unfortunately kids are chosen in gymnastics for their body types. We are lucky that here in the United States kids with any body can work hard at whatever sport they choose and excel. It's not like that in a lot of other countries. My husband was chosen in his country at a very young age because of this body type. I was giving that as a possible reason for her being selected because really she has no special aptitude for gymnastics at this point. If she wants to play basketball despite her height disadvantage I'd be the first to support her. I'd never make her do gymnastics just because she's a shorty.

I was very shy as a child and up into my teens. I have a feeling she's going to be the same way. My mother says her personality is just like mine as a child. Loud, hyper and stubborn at home, but super shy and obedient outside of the house.

Of course girls form bonds in all sports, but I was just pointing it out as one of the many positives of gymnastics.

I don't really have a problem with 3 hours of gymnastics a week. My nephew who is only 6 months older than my daughter played TBall this year. Some weeks he had something every night. Practice 2x and then 3 games. The next week he might only have 1 game, but I thought that was a little crazy. He's 4 and the games would sometimes start at 7:30pm. He had so much fun though. A few others on the team would seem to be melting down towards the end of the game, but he was always fine.

Just to be clear it wouldn't be developmental team, but a developmental class. I know all gyms have their own system. This gym has a dev class and then dev team. The ages would be similiar to her current class. I think this gym has 3-5 year olds grouped together because it is really a new gym and there just aren't that many people enrolled currently. Maturity wise she has no problem. That's the age label on her class, but I don't know the ages of all the children. I assume if they look bigger they are older, but who knows. She's the smallest in her dance class, but is actually the oldest.

Most kids as the get older will let you know what they have a passion for. It's not always the case though. Some kids will do things to please their parents and that's why I've tried to show no preference for gymnastics. She has been surrounded by gymnastics since birth. I actually found out I was pregnant at JO Nationals in 2004. She went to her first gymnastics meet at 2 weeks old. She slept through it of course! I was really curious how coaches walk that fine line with their children.
 
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Billy

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I don't think there is anything wrong with your daughter knowing you love gymnastics nor that her father is a coach. She should see what your interests are. But that doesn't mean you can't let her make her own choices. And if you're really concerned, when she gets older, that she's only doing gym to please you, you can always offer her other choices and be equally enthusiastic.
 

Granny Smith

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Unfortunately kids are chosen in gymnastics for their body types. We are lucky that here in the United States kids with any body can work hard at whatever sport they choose and excel. It's not like that in a lot of other countries. My husband was chosen in his country at a very young age because of this body type. I was giving that as a possible reason for her being selected because really she has no special aptitude for gymnastics at this point. If she wants to play basketball despite her height disadvantage I'd be the first to support her. I'd never make her do gymnastics just because she's a shorty.
i actually think she was probably picked because of something you said in a previous post - that she does whatever is asked of her and she can stand still and wait her turn. I think at her tender age of 3, that those are big factors.

Body type does help, but it seems that you dd is someone that they feel they can work with.
 
D

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You know, I just dont think you should worry about it so much.

Kids in families where parents play musical instruments often are led towards music, kids in families where parents play certain sports are often led towards those sports and kids in families where parents are couch potatoes (do you know what that means or is that a UK expression?) ...

They learn by watching your every move; however a time comes when they will make up their own minds.
 
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bpatient

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I know it's inevitable that she'll want to do gymnastics because she's surrounded by it, but I don't want to push her in any way. That's why I took her to a gym where no one would know her father coaches. I didn't want anyone to have any expectations for her.
Of course part of your job as a parent is to provide some direction for your child. One of your most important jobs as a parent is to choose an appropriate direction.

Anders Ericcson, one of the leading scholars of expert performance, suggests that parental support can be a critical factor in the development of expertise. For example, he has stressed that what most people conceptualize as "talent" is vastly overrated; it is continued, dedicated practice over many years that separates average or even high achievers from experts, and such dedicated practice is often fostered at an early age by devoted parents. Thus it isn't as important that your child have "talent" as that you believe that she does, so that you get her appropriate instruction and foster good work habits. As an example, Dr. Ericsson's studies suggest that the determining factor that separates members of the orchestra from soloists is only five extra hours of intensive practice each week for ten or so years.

With some reservations, it's reasonable to assume that this can apply to gymnastics--that's the essence of the "train long hours from a young age" paradigm that (I think) the Karolyi's brought to the US. My daughter, who now practices only about twelve hours each week, cannot equal the performance of the competitors at her level who have practiced twenty, twenty-four, or up to thirty-two hours each week for years. The parents of those girls enthusiastically support their daughters' involvement in the sport, and the results will and already do speak for themselves.

OTOH, I chose to limit my daughter's training hours; when her coach raised the possibility of training her for elite competition, I decided that I did want her to be elite--but academically. My wife and I happen to have trained in biochemistry and medicine rather than in gymnastics, but, rather like you, we're pointing but not pushing our daughter towards an exciting and fascinating path that we've already traveled. That's not a bad thing. My kid may not choose to pursue a career in medical research and your child may eventually opt out of gymnastics, but we can at least provide the support and communicate the hope and the expectation that our kids will someday be very good at something, regardless of what it is that they choose. That's what parents do.
 
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littlekateskate

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Umm. If your three year old doesnt like it you will know. She isnt going to do it for mommy and dad with a fake smile on her face at three.

My dd skated at least three hours a week at that age. Its really not that much. These kids arent in school yet and have nothing else to do. Its better then sitting in front of a tv!

My daughters going on five and some days i have to drag her off the ice after three hours! Its not contant lesson she is skating on her own. And I am sure if open gym was longer it would be the same thing. She is never ready to go after the end of her lesson.

Some kids just want to be "exercising/playing" and what a great thing for them. And to me the better part at this age is that they are being monitored in a lesson. We did private lessons at a young age so that someone was with my daughter and she had less chance of getting hurt. At three you cant really trust them on their own. So having a lesson in my opinion is just 'supervised play for them" at least that is my point of view of it. That is if they would be doing it anyway on their own.
 
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