When we watch our child making first achievements in sports (like successively winning a certain number of gymnastics competitions), or hear from the coach about how talented and promising is your athlete, it’s easy for every parent to get sucked into the so-called “parent trap” of emphasizing results or pushing skills development over all other aspects of a child’s life.
We all know about “that” gymnastics moms and dads, and we all hope we aren’t and will never turn into one. Below you’ll find 6 common mistakes that parents of young gymnasts tend to make and useful tips that can help enhance your child’s experience of the sport of rhythmic gymnastics.
#1 Comparing your gymnast’s results with that of other gymnasts – This is the most common mistake and 90% of parents can’t avoid making it.
Effects of Mistake – When you compare your child with others, no matter whether it is gymnastics results or academic achievements, it lowers your child’s self-esteem and self-confidence and makes him doubt in your love.
How to Avoid – The best way to avoid comparing gymnastics achievements with others is to concentrate on your gymnast’s individual progress, marking the progress every time.
- Don’t set goals for your gymnast
- Don’t pressure your gymnast regarding skills or results
- Don’t use sarcasm, threaten or promises to motivate your gymnast
- Do mark every new achievement or skill
- Do give positive feedback to your gymnast and provide moral support
- Do emphasize effort rather than results
- Do assist your child in setting realistic goals
#2 Associating yourself with your gymnast’s success or lack of it – This mistake is not so common, but much more dangerous.
Effect of Mistake – If you base your own own ego or self-esteem on the success of your gymnast’s, your unhappiness with the results makes your child feel guilty for not coming up to your expectations. This negative feeling affects your child’s both mental and physical health, causing neurological conditions, low immunity, psychogenic headache, stomach or back pain.
How to Avoid – Allow yourself to get pleasure from your child’s gymnastics experience, but do not get overly emotionally involved. Stay calm, keeping in mind that your positive attitude is the best way to improve how well your child performs and feels about gymnastics.
- Don’t care too deeply about your gymnast’s results
- Don’t try to recreate yourself through your gymnast
- Don’t get overly emotionally involved with your gymnast’s success
- Do have a life of your own without gymnastics but with other things that please you
- Do allow yourself to be proud of your gymnast’s achievements
- Do constantly improve your own skills and achievements
# 3 Basing your love and positive attitude on your gymnast’s success – When it comes to gymnastics, conditional approval is chosen by many parents as a way to improve a child’s results.
Effect of Mistake – Conditional love and approval harm your child more than you can imagine. Being constantly approved or disapproved for gymnastics achievements, children get used to the idea that continued love and good attitude from parents depends on results in the gym – a thing they even are not able to fully control.
How to Avoid – Just keep in mind that your child’s success should depend on your attitude and not vice versa. You both will enjoy it more that way.
- Don’t take judge’s scores too seriously
- Don’t forget the need for fun in gymnastics
- Don’t let yourself become obsessed with competition results
- Do understand the inherent difficulty in winning at gymnastics meets
- Do show your gymnast unconditional love whether they win or lose
- Do keep a sense of humor about your gymnast’s participation in the sport
- Do emphasize to your child that gymnastics is fun
#4 Interfering with coaches and their coaching duties – When you become an experienced gymnastics parent, you can come to a point, when you feel that you know better how to coach your athlete.
Effect of Mistake – When you interfere with coaching duties you undercut your gymnast’s confidence in their coaches and in this way make coaching your athlete more difficult for them.
How to Avoid – Leave the coaching to the gymnastics professionals.
- Don’t discuss with your gymnasts the coach’s methods
- Don’t badmouth your gymnast’s coaches in front of your gymnast
- Don’t try to coach your gymnast yourself
- Do make your child feel that the coach is the master in gymnastics issues
- Do support the gym and coaches in any way you can
- Do communicate with your gymnast’s coaches about your gymnast
- Do show an active interest in gymnastics
# 5 Expecting a monetary return for the time and money you are spending – Many gymnastics parents tend to predicate their support for their gymnast’s participation in the sport on any expectation of a monetary return like receiving a college scholarship.
Effect of Mistake – Thinking of time and money you spend on your child participation in gymnastics as an investment or a sacrifice in most of the times leads to you to frustration and can also make your child feeling guilty if failed to meet your expectations.
How to Avoid – Don’t expect anything more from your gymnast except the best effort.
- Don’t do or say anything to make your child feel guilty for the time and money you are spending on their gymnastics
- Don’t feel like you make any sacrifices for them to participate in the sport
- Don’t expect that time and money you spend will bring great benefits
- Do emphasize positive moments of gymnastics as fun, skill development, cooperation, making new friends and etc.
- Do understand that your child may need a break from sports occasionally or can decide to leave gymnastics at any time.
- Do show interest gymnastics: help your child get to practice, attend competitions, ask questions
# 6 Competing with other parents – For many parents it’s easy to get caught up in competing with other parents, comparing their child to other athletes at the gym.
Effect of Mistake – Competing with other parents you help create an unhealthy atmosphere in the gym and deprive yourself of communicating with people, who will understand what you and your gymnast go through.
How to Avoid – Use all opportunities to make new friends among gymnastics parents, and you’ll get additional benefits as, for example, shared pick-up responsibilities, while your child will easily make new friends in a safe environment.
- Don’t participate in gossip about anyone in the gymnastics community
- Don’t make enemies of other parents
- Don’t think of other athletes in the gym as your child’s competitors or an obstacle to your athlete to shine
- Do make friends with other parents at the gym and events
- Do give your time and energy to the sports your child is involved in
- Do truly support every athlete from your gymnastics school at the meets
Most of gymnastics parents want the very best for their child including the opportunity to be safe and learn new skills. It’s critically important for parents of gymnasts to remember that our job is support our children and give them our unconditional love. To achieve this goal, concentrate on helping your child set realistic goals, respect coaches, make friends with other athletes and have fun when doing gymnastics.