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Incentives

LTmom

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Feb 7, 2018
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Can you explain from your perspective why additional incentives are bad? Example. DD is very close to getting a skill. Coach says she's doing everything right, just missing 1 piece and it will come with time. DD isn't afraid. If you offer an additional incentive to give her that last "oomph" needed, why is this a negative? The head coach/owner at the gym has been known to tape cash to the high bar for level 10s trying to get extraordinarily hard skills. The first time they so it, they can grab the cash off the bar.
 

CLgym

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Dec 22, 2014
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I never pass judgment on parenting decisions, and don't always practice what I preach! But I suspect these are some of the concerns:

There is always (always!) another skill to learn, and for some period of time the gymnast will be 'close' to each of these new skills. It's a slippery -- and never ending -- slope.

While a young child might be happy with a sticker, bigger kids and bigger skills eventually want bigger prizes. I've personally seen parents offer incentives of leotards and even pets!

It might also suggest that the gymnast won't give their best effort without an incentive, which is most likely not the case (but may become true if they get in the habit of expecting a material incentive).

Parent-prizes increase the risk of over involved parents? Not always, but maybe....

Personally, our HC has been known to chastise parents who offer material incentives; she believes the effort (that oomph you refer to) must come from within.
 

Flicfliclay

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I don't see anything wrong with it, but just make it known that every skill doesn't constitute the same incentives. Jobs do this all the time! whoever exceeds their numbers wins a trip to Hawaii... whatever. If you think it is something you want to do, do it. Parents argue all the time whether or not kids should get incentives for grades... To each their own if you ask me! Now i think its different if you say go to a meet and tell your kid.. if you get 1st place or beat so and so I will buy you a puppy... i think there the line should be drawn. LOL
 
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raenndrops

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Ok ... I don't "bribe" the girls to get a performance out of them, but I know some parents who do.
Now, I do occasionally get them new leotards at meets AFTER they have competed, but they are not related to any specific performance goal. They ARE related to the fact that I can get, for example, a GK Breast Cancer Awareness leotard for $30 in YG's size knowing she outgrew her old one 2 sizes ago. I have also been known to take them to get shakes after an open gym where they worked hard ... but only because the gym was hot and they still went out there and were working on skills and connections and encouraging each other AND, let's face it - I want a shake myself, lol.

At our gym, when a girl gets her kip (she has to do 3 by herself with everyone watching AFTER she gets the first one), the entire team gets a choice of an ice cream sandwich or a popsicle and the new kipper gets a pint of the ice cream of her choice. There is that incentive because after the first 2 kips, the team girls start chanting "ice cream, ice cream" BUT everyone knows it is a one time thing, so there is no way they would think they get something every time they get a new skill.
 

kendo348

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Aug 5, 2019
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I would say because it messes with the opportunity to discover the joy inherent in achieving a goal through hard work, which is one of the prime lessons gymnastics offers. Because it derails their developing inner motivation and mental endurance or cheapens the achievement. At L10 I think it’s not as big of a deal because at that level they’ve clearly already proven to themselves that they value the sport for the sport itself, and a little cash prize probably injects some needed fun into a very long and tough endeavor. I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with the dessert prize mentioned above, as it feels more like a group celebration and that’s merited. But for younger girls/compulsory I would take issue with cash prizes.

I’m not always against incentives. Heaven knows that even as an adult I need to give myself some every now and then! But I tend to think they should be limited to the realm of the unpleasant must-dos, rather than interfering with things that are a choice. We have to let our kids own their choices, and that includes letting them find their own inner drive. I wouldn’t want to be paying for this sport if I didn’t know my daughter truly loved it for the sport itself!
 

amiandjim

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For me, I feel it sends the message that I’m overly invested in my daughter’s gymnastics and that I NEED her to get skills. I never want her to think she needs to get a skill for me...it should all be about her! I’m fine with coaches giving little incentives, but I will never do that. Now, of course, I would take her out for ice cream or something to celebrate after getting a big skill. BUT, I would also take her out for ice cream if she had a bad practice or meet. Ice cream is good for every occasion..lol.
 

CLgym

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I was thinking a bit more about your question and the myriad of responses (a sign that it's a good question!) and had one more though that I'll share via personal story...

My DD is currently struggling to get all of her L8 skills, and it's getting to be crunch time. So I started wondering (given your post), is there anything I could offer her to get the missing skills? Would she start landing a Yurchenko for a new leotard? A trip? A puppy? My answer is definitely no. If it was that easy, she would have done it by now. I mean, I imagine she will eventually land her vault if she sticks with gymnastics long enough. But not any sooner than if she was offered that leotard/trip/puppy. (For the record, I would NEVER get a second dog. But that's another story...)

So I guess I'll add to my list of concerns that I'm not convinced incentives are particularly effective in the context of new gymnastic skills. They come when they come. At least in my limited experience (one kid in gymnastics).

For the record, I am all in favor of ice cream for celebrating new skills, good (or bad) meets, etc.
 

suebee

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Dec 6, 2012
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To me, I feel that an incentive is encouraging harder work. But the missing skill may not be due to lack of hard work. I think it is entirely possible for people to working extremely hard to gain skills (and not just gymnastics skills!), but many skills take time to master, even if one is working hard, and gaining those skills is a slow process. It’s just how it is. Learning new stuff takes times and everyone is different and on their own time line.

The fear I would have about offering the incentive is that what if the kid still struggles to get the skill? Now the kid is starting to think that maybe something is wrong with them, and might become even more frustrated that they don’t have skill and don’t have some other thing that they want.
 

Ty’s DD

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I don’t see anything wrong with it, my daughter always wants sitter expensive or anything she sees her teammates with. 1st she wanted a phone, so told her if she made A camp I’ll get her the phone. Then it was Beats headphones for the phone, so for that she had to win 1st AA at states and Regionals plus make state team. To be honest I didn’t think she would get all that and we would have got it for her anyway just for working hard to get what she wanted. So I don’t see a problem with bribery
 

kendo348

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Yes to what suebee said. I feel like to certain personalities (me and at least two of my three kids) being offered incentive for a personal goal they are already invested in implies they aren’t working hard enough or must not want it badly enough yet, and suddenly they are letting down others as well - which is damaging if they are already giving it their all.
 

coachp

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Because no matter what your relationship or situation (I am sure you are a great parent ) it’s additional pressure from you. Just is... I know , I know , not my DD we have a special relationship unlike any other parent daughter .... irrelevant, stay out of it . She will be better off in the long term. Let the coaches reward the skills. You just give her a hug
 

Dahlia

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I don't usually do incentives mostly because I think drive needs to be internal and incentives interfere. That being said, we do "celebrations" sometimes after dd gets a skill she's been working on for a while. So dinner at a restaurant she picks, ice cream, etc. It't not expected, it's an extra. We do similar for my other children's activities.
 

Aussie_coach

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Part of the problem, is that not getting a skills is actually part of the process of getting the skills. If a kid cant do a skill, most of the time it is because she is not ready to do it for some reason. It could be she needs a few more drills, needs to build confidence, is lacking in a certain part of her physical prep and is compensating so the technique feels off and so on.
 

mommyof1

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Now i think its different if you say go to a meet and tell your kid.. if you get 1st place or beat so and so I will buy you a puppy... i think there the line should be drawn. LOL
I talked to a parent who literally did this at the L3 state meet. “I don’t even care which event it is,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be all-around. Any first place will do.”
 

MuggleMom

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Little bribes for little things every now and again I dont see a problem (I'll get you a slurpee if you do X at practice today...and to be honest i usually get her the slurpee either way as long as she tried her hardest etc and I usually make the offer cause I want a slurpee after practice lol). The easier solution is to do an unexpected celebration afterwards which is what I tend to do. I think for success in life drive has to come from within but as everyone said most jobs do offer incentives and prizes for over achieving.
 

gymnastmom05

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I'm in more of the "it depends what it is, how long they've been working and the personality of the kid" camp. I remember saying stuff like "when you get your kip (can't remember if that was it or her BHS on high beam), we'll go celebrate with a milkshake". It wasn't really something that put any additional pressure on her, it was a skill she was going to get. Now it's all on her. We just celebrate after the fact if it's a big deal. I have also done a foot in my mouth type commitment - like she saw an outrageously priced leotard at a meet and wanted it. The answer would have been no but I said "I'll buy it if you get first on an event" She didn't place 1st at all the previous season. Low and behold, she took 1st place. But, it wasn't like I set myself up to go into debt (or gain a new family member with a puppy) and honestly, I don't think saying something like that put any additional stress on her. She pretty much took the comment to mean NO, but it turned out that day was her day.
 

GymDadWA

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I think incentives work well when the limiting factor is a focus issue, like you are trying to get them to hold their handstands for 30 seconds when they mentally tap out at like 10 seconds. Trying to add incentives to a skill when they aren't quite ready for it can lead to them taking shortcuts where it actually can set them back (think chicken wing kips).
 
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