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How to prepare 5 year old for first meet

Dad1234

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Hi! My daughter is four years old and training level 2. She turns five shortly before her first competition. I know she will be competing against kids who are older and better than her. I know she isn't going to win and that is totally ok with me. I want her to have fun at competitions. How do you prepare a young child for their first competition? We have talked about it being a performance because she loves to perform. We have also talked about how it will be fun. I have not talked to her about winning. I haven't even told her that there will be winners. However, I'm worried that she will quickly figure out during the first awards ceremony that she didn't win and then she will cry when she doesn't get a medal. Our coach said they give out a lot of awards for level 2. Do all kids get a ribbon or certificate for participating at this level? Do these little kids even understand the awards at this age? Should I discuss awards with her so that she knows that some kids will get medals or do I just send her out there to have fun and do her best? Thanks!!
 

skschlag

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Door #2.

Just remind her how much fun she has doing gymnastics, and how much fun the meet will be. Tell her how much you love watching her. Celebrate every little thing that happens. She is so young.....make it just a blast!!!

And...dad...you have fun too :)
 

Flipping Awesome

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My DD competed her first season of Xcel Bronze at age 5. She truly had no concept of the scores or of the podium. I worried about how to prepare her as well, but I figured that if I talked too much I might create anxiety where there hadn't been any before. Her coaches did a really good job of preparing her and her teammates for what would happen at competition.

Most of the competitions my DD has been to have had 50% + 1 awards per age group, meaning that even if my DD didn't make it to the podium, she was still very likely to receive some type of award that day. She honestly only started noticing/caring about scores when she found out, in her 2nd year of Bronze at age 6, that she would need a 37 AA at State to qualify for Regionals.

So, my advice would be to let the coaches do the prepping, enjoy cheering for her, and then handle any disappointment as it may come. (Post-meet ice cream usually does the trick!)
 

ldw4mlo

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Tell her to do her best and have fun.

If she medals great. If not that’s OK too.

Do not focus on medals. Focus on skills. And sorry I’m a few years out from L2 skills. But focus on the things she did well. Not the numbers or medals.

Especially focus on things she struggles with but moves on with. You did so much better on that xyz. You kept going after that abc bobble, great job.

And after the meet. I just love watching you do gymnastics.

Seriously no more is needed. Anything else will be taken care of by time.
 

scgymmom322

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My dd was a new 5 year old when she competed level 2. She had no concept of scores or what they meant. Most meets we went to gave medals out to 50%+1 (same as someone else mentioned above) but everyone got a card with ribbons on it for each event at every meet, too. A little side note that I thought was funny--the ribbons on the cards are colored according to your score. She was disappointed after every meet because she got all red/blue/red, white, and blue ribbons--she wanted the pretty rainbow-colored ribbons that some other girls got (I think the rainbow ones are for scores in the 6s or 7s? Not sure--it just shows she truly had no concept of scores!). We just told her to have fun and do her best, and we went out for lunch/dinner/treats depending on time after every meet, regardless of how she did!

About age groups--depending on how large the meet is, there can be a wide variety of ages in your daughter's age group. I was surprised when our daughter was in the same age group as a couple of her 9-year old teammates at some of the smaller meets we went to. It is hard to expect a new 5 year old and a 9 year old to truly compete against each other--the older girls are just able to remember the tiny details in the routines really well, and are a little more...graceful, than most of the tiny ones!

I don't think you really need to do anything to prepare her other than to just tell her to have fun and do her best! Good luck to your daughter!
 

raenndrops

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A little side note that I thought was funny--the ribbons on the cards are colored according to your score. She was disappointed after every meet because she got all red/blue/red, white, and blue ribbons--she wanted the pretty rainbow-colored ribbons that some other girls got (I think the rainbow ones are for scores in the 6s or 7s?
YG's first season, she was so against the color yellow (i forget if it was 4th or 5th place) that she envied the girls that got the pink (6th), purple (7th), black (9th), or rainbow (12th)... she even asked a teammate to trade at that first meet :p
 

gymdog

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FYI. On the ribbons, not all states do achievement ribbons anymore, and the states that do have some different things. In some places they are handed to the kids after every event (despite this in all ways being a nightmare, but hey we've survived it until now so why not) and in other places they put them on the card and in other places they're just handed to the coach to sort out.
 
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jamieintexas

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I tell my parents that my expectations for their first meet is “bloodbath.” I have had gymnasts forget their routine, wet the beam, throw-up during the National Anthem, etc... My own son fell and racked himself so hard on Pommels that I was worried that I wouldn’t have grandchildren.

Make sure that their hair is done, that they have snacks and water in their bag and something non electronic to occupy them during down time (puzzle books, notepad etc...) I also recommend that you let them pick out a restaurant for after the meet. That is the best thing to talk about in the car on the way.
 

GAgymmom

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I tell my parents that my expectations for their first meet is “bloodbath.” I have had gymnasts forget their routine, wet the beam, throw-up during the National Anthem, etc... My own son fell and racked himself so hard on Pommels that I was worried that I wouldn’t have grandchildren.

Make sure that their hair is done, that they have snacks and water in their bag and something non electronic to occupy them during down time (puzzle books, notepad etc...) I also recommend that you let them pick out a restaurant for after the meet. That is the best thing to talk about in the car on the way.
Ah yes, the tell-tale puddle spreading out around their feet because they thought they'd get in trouble if they asked to go to the bathroom! :)
 

rebcoola

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Mine was 7 before she realized standing on the boxes was winning she thought the people who got the raffle baskets won. I would prepare more for what you will and will not buy at the meet. To stay with the coaches until you come find them at the end. That yes she can ask to use the potty. What you will do after the meet lunch, ice cream etc.
 

raenndrops

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I tell my parents that my expectations for their first meet is “bloodbath.”
Our coach sets expectations very low for the first meet (new L3s). She tells the girls that scores in the 6s are to be expected ... because of nerves, forgetting things, unusual falls, etc. She lets the parents know to not worry about the scores. Celebrate the small stuff (having the leo on the right way, looking cute, remembering to salute, being a supportive teammate, remembering ANY part of a routine).
 

kris

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My older gymnast loved the rainbow ribbons, and my younger gymnast (who left gym for dance after level 2) was jealous that she didn't get the rainbow ones even though she was getting the higher score colors. At most of their meets they just gave everyone ribbons on their score cards and a medal for everyone with no place on it at the end. At the one meet where they gave out places in level 2, my youngest didn't even know how to get onto the podium when she won first place and all the other spots were full. Instead of climbing up from the bottom step she tried to hoist her tiny little body up to the first place. She hadn't been watching the awards since she was sure she hadn't placed. LOL! She made it up, but not without a lot of giggles from the other parents first. This is all to say that neither of my two had a clue about scores and such when they were five or six. It wasn't until my older gymnast was about 7 that she realized that the rainbow ribbons were NOT the best ones. LOL! Of course, the coaches or I could have explained it to them. They are bright kids and would have easily grasped the concept, but I wanted them to go out and have fun at that age, not stress over scores.
 

acam1103

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Just to offer a different perspective but with the same advice. My son absolutely understood the awards without me explaining them at his first meet as a 6 year old. He didn’t receive a single one even though they handed out at least a million (at 9:00 on a Friday night). He was exhausted and disappointed and started sobbing when it was all done and he saw us. We told him we were proud of him and offered 10pm ice cream to celebrate a job well done (he was asleep the second he hit his car seat so that didn’t happen).

But here’s the thing. It would have been exactly the same if we talked to him about awards before hand. Maybe even worse because that would have indicated to him that awards were important enough to us to warrant a discussion. It broke my mama heart to see him sad but he grew so much that night. He has worked his tail off since then and is now going to level 6 as an 8 year old. He still cares about awards and nothing we say will change that. But he learns just as much from the failures as the successes and knows we are cheering for him no matter what.

So she may be oblivious or she may be devastated. Or she me surprise you and get an award. But all of the advice above is the best. Have fun, don’t try to prepare her, and always go out for ice cream because meets are long and parents deserve ice cream too :)
 

OzZee

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I'm pretty sure my dd who competed at 5 understood the placings (we only place 1-3 or 1-6 here) and my kids have had disappointments over the years esp when they were little, but very quickly recovered from.
LOL though re pretty ribbons - we don't have rainbow here (we only place to 6 at most- but I'm certain mine would be desperate for one of those), but even last year at 11 I can remember her saying she wished she'd got xx place (ie lower than she'd got, say 5th instead of 3rd) so she would have gotten a better array of coloured ribbons. She has very def goals and qualification scores to meet - but those diff coloured ribbons still hold an interest even when they know exactly what they mean. So hopefully your little one will be happy with whatever she gets.
 

raenndrops

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I'm pretty sure my dd who competed at 5 understood the placings (we only place 1-3 or 1-6 here) and my kids have had disappointments over the years esp when they were little, but very quickly recovered from.
LOL though re pretty ribbons - we don't have rainbow here (we only place to 6 at most- but I'm certain mine would be desperate for one of those), but even last year at 11 I can remember her saying she wished she'd got xx place (ie lower than she'd got, say 5th instead of 3rd) so she would have gotten a better array of coloured ribbons. She has very def goals and qualification scores to meet - but those diff coloured ribbons still hold an interest even when they know exactly what they mean. So hopefully your little one will be happy with whatever she gets.
Several years ago, when our HC ordered new ribbons, she ordered through 18th place (we are only required to place top 12 now, but if I have them and the age group warrants it, I am willing to place all the way out because they are pretty). Older girls were getting upset that their age groups weren"t "big enough" ... they wanted the teal, raspberry (bright pink), turquoise, or navy ribbons, lol.
 

John

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I remember my kids first meet. I said nothing, did nothing, and knew nothing. The way her hair looked sure made that obvious.:D:eek: I knew no other way than have fun.

Exactly.

My advice is practice doing hair. Also ask your daughter if the coaches gave her details on how a meet works, ie how you move event to event etc. Tell her to have fun, enjoy her friends and enjoy the moment.
 

gymdog

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If you can I would bring her to come kind of gymnastics meet to watch beforehand. Beyond that I wouldn't try to say much about the awards etc, just try to have her make some personal goals (a couple so she can hit at least one) like "point my toes on my arabesque" or whatever. Then when you see her you can make a big deal about one of the goals she hit.
 

Bella7

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There are nerves at any level of the competition and the main thing is to be supportive. If you’re smiling encouragement from the sidelines it really helps. The competition at this level is really cute and not too challenging. She should do fine. I would agree with one of the other replies -don’t talk too much about it and deal with any disappointment afterwards. And besides she may surprise you and do really well!
 
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