or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Should we keep going with this or make a change? (gymnastics--long)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Should we keep going with this or make a change? (gymnastics--long)

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
My dd is 4.5 (5 this summer) and has been doing gymnastics since she was 3. We orginally chose this activity for her because she has always been so high energy and naturally athletic. She has always enjoyed gymnastics and has excelled. At this point she is a level 2 (two levels past "kindergym" and 2 away from "team") She goes 2x a week for 2 hours. The gym is 30 minutes away from our house, but I have been pretty pleased with the program and the coaches, plus dd has loved it so I was fine with the drive.

But now we've run into some issues. DD has strabismus which means that she sees and moves through the world differently than most kids. I also suspect that if evaluated, she might be considered ADHD. She jumps around a lot and has trouble not invading the other girls' personal space. She gets too close to them, has trouble keeping her place in line, sometimes cuts, etc. When she's working on something, she's super focused, but in the downtime, when they stand in line, it gets more difficult for her. She's getting better, but her behavior still stands out from that of the other kids.

Two months ago when she moved up from level 1 to level 2 things changed. I think the girls are a bit older (an average of 6) and they are less tolerant of my dd's quirks and transgressions. After every class she tells me of an incident where a girl tells her "I/we don't like you," "You're not my friend," "go away." A couple of weeks ago, I noticed one of the coaches giving dd a talking to in front of the other girls (it lasted at least a minute), and holding up the line for vault. After practice when I asked her what happened, she said that dd was saying to the other girls that they are not her friends and that she hit a couple of them. I know a few minutes before dd got in trouble, she had gotten too close to one girl who turned around, really got in dd's face and said something to her that I could not make out. Before moving up to this class, the whole "You're not my friend" business was not in her social vocabulary, so I know she is reacting to things being said to her in class (of course I understand that doesn't make it alright for her to hit other kids). I've talked to the head coach, and I know they talk to the girls about being kind to each other and being a team. The head coach seems to think that dd is fine in class, that the girls are all learning social skills, and that this is just a part of growing and learning.

But now dd asks to be taken out of gymnastics At first I thought it was because she is going through this ballerina-princess phase (she wanted to do dance instead). But now she says she wants to keep doing gymnastics, just at another gym.

I asked her yesterday whether she'd like to do daycamp a few weeks this summer. The school she will be attending offers 3 weeks of camp. She thought I meant, like, outdoors camping. I explained that no--this would be a time to do arts and crafts, play, and make new friends. She then said that she can't make friends because whenever she tries to talk to kids, they don't like her and don't want to be her friend. This just breaks my heart. I don't want her to enter kindergarten already feeling that she's a social failure. She already does not have many friends (just 2 that she has known since they were toddlers, and she doesn't see either of them very often). My husband's first reaction to the whole situation is that we should make her stick it out. That it's going to be the same anywhere she goes and we don't want her to think that when things get tough she can just quit. I see that side, but at the same time, she's so young, and my daughter is not the type to complain. It saddens me to know this goes on every week, twice a week, and that it's not getting any better. I feel like the teacher going off on her with all the girls watching didn't help matters...I feel like it just confirms for them that she is an outsider and not worth liking.

So, I'm coming here for support and advice. I've talked to dd about personal space and tried to give her strategies for staying focused in class. I said she should stay in gymnastics for the rest of April, then we could talk about a change. What do you all think? I've considered switching gyms, switching sports, doing no sports at all. I am really at a loss. My dd was always the kid who felt comfortable approaching anybody and is such a kind-hearted, inclusive child. I don't want to leave her in a situation that damages her self-esteem, but I do want to make sure I'm not giving her the wrong message. What would you do?
post #2 of 40
My heart is breaking a little for your daughter. Have you discussed these issues with your pediatrician? If you think that ADHD is affecting her social interactions, some kind of treatment is indicated. It's possible that some behavioral therapy/coaching would really help her.

I would be worried about a child with poor depth perception getting into higher and higher levels of gymnastics. Are her coaches aware of the issue? And are they at all qualified to deal with it constructively?

I feel like the thing to do at this point is to help your daughter find the tools to succeed socially. And I would take her out of situations in which she's not getting along. She's very young.
post #3 of 40
I can't comment about ADHD but I can say that I wouldn't feel comfortable with my kids spending so much time in activity with older children. The other kids will gravitate to the kids their own age, they will be more skilled and your DD will notice and think that it's her fault, when if fact, it's just a simply a matter of age. I also think that it's a lot of time to devote to just one activity when your DD is so young. I prefer my kids to try a bunch of different things. We do one session of gymnastics a year. We also do swimming, skating, dance, piano and soccer, just not all at the same time of year. That give variety and practices different skills sets.
post #4 of 40
Thread Starter 
Meepycat--thank you for your compassionate response. Actually, dd's developmental optometrist thinks it's great that she does gymnastics. It helps with balance, body awareness, spacial awareness, etc. I don't think her depth perception is a problem--she is and has always been very athletic and daring, and I (and her drs.) believe she has learned to compensate. Oh, and I have an appt with the ped on Thursday.

cjam-- there are some girls closer to dd's age in the class, although most are 5 or 6. And skill level is not really an issue. My daughter is an awesome little gymnast, and we kept her in gymnastics because she knows she's good at it and we thought it would be good for her self-esteem --ironic, I know.

My inclination is to take her out of the class...but I know that I am a sensitive person (why do people so often see this as a negative?), so I'm not sure if I'm being overly sensitive about it. My husband might think so, but he's always been one to treat dd as though she is older than she really is. I also don't think he knows much about the social needs and challenges of little girls.
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by naismama View Post
DD has strabismus which means that she sees and moves through the world differently than most kids. I also suspect that if evaluated, she might be considered ADHD. She jumps around a lot and has trouble not invading the other girls' personal space. She gets too close to them, has trouble keeping her place in line, sometimes cuts, etc.
What are you doing about all this? This is the root problem and will repeat itself in different situations.

Quote:
After every class she tells me of an incident where a girl tells her "I/we don't like you," "You're not my friend," "go away."
Have you talked to the coach about this? The other girls' behavoir isn't OK.

Quote:
After practice when I asked her what happened, she said that dd was saying to the other girls that they are not her friends and that she hit a couple of them..... But now dd asks to be taken out of gymnastics
I think that your DD sounds very frustrated and in over her head, and doesn't have a better way of coping than hitting.

I also think that hitting is a HUGE deal. You seem to be blaming it on the other kids or the coach. You need to be honest with yourself and frank with your child that it's not OK to hit. Not ever.

Quote:
My husband's first reaction to the whole situation is that we should make her stick it out. That it's going to be the same anywhere she goes and we don't want her to think that when things get tough she can just quit.
I disagree. That would mean that since she started gymnastics at 3, she has to keep doing it until she is dead. Seriously, she's going to quit at some point. Figuring out how to do that in a positive way seems to be the key to me.

I would have her finish out the month/session (whatever it is) and then let her try something different with kids her age. I would talk to the coach about the fact that you will be stopping, why you are stopping, and trying to make the last few sessions positive.

Quote:
I feel like the teacher going off on her with all the girls watching didn't help matters...I feel like it just confirms for them that she is an outsider and not worth liking.
I think that her hitting didn't help matters.

What do you think the teacher should do when a child hits another child?

Quote:
switching sports, doing no sports at all.
I'm a big fan of swimming. I think it's the best sport for kids. It's a great time of year to start swimming!

I think that part of the problem is that she is with kids who are older than her and have higher expectations for behavoir, and that would repeat at another gym. Changing gears and getting her with other 4 year old seems better to me.

Quote:
My dd was always the kid who felt comfortable approaching anybody and is such a kind-hearted, inclusive child.
she's not coming across that way. Getting in other people space, cutting in line, etc is seen as really icky behavoir by other kids. I think there is a gulf between how you see your DD and what her social skill tell other people.

I think you need to work on social skills to her and teach her to take responsbility for her actions. When she does something like cut in line, it really annoys other kids. It makes them not want to be her friend.
post #6 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
What are you doing about all this? This is the root problem and will repeat itself in different situations.



Have you talked to the coach about this? The other girls' behavoir isn't OK.



I think that your DD sounds very frustrated and in over her head, and doesn't have a better way of coping than hitting.

I also think that hitting is a HUGE deal. You seem to be blaming it on the other kids or the coach. You need to be honest with yourself and frank with your child that it's not OK to hit. Not ever.



I disagree. That would mean that since she started gymnastics at 3, she has to keep doing it until she is dead. Seriously, she's going to quit at some point. Figuring out how to do that in a positive way seems to be the key to me.

I would have her finish out the month/session (whatever it is) and then let her try something different with kids her age. I would talk to the coach about the fact that you will be stopping, why you are stopping, and trying to make the last few sessions positive.



I think that her hitting didn't help matters.

What do you think the teacher should do when a child hits another child?



I'm a big fan of swimming. I think it's the best sport for kids. It's a great time of year to start swimming!

I think that part of the problem is that she is with kids who are older than her and have higher expectations for behavoir, and that would repeat at another gym. Changing gears and getting her with other 4 year old seems better to me.



she's not coming across that way. Getting in other people space, cutting in line, etc is seen as really icky behavoir by other kids. I think there is a gulf between how you see your DD and what her social skill tell other people.

I think you need to work on social skills to her and teach her to take responsbility for her actions. When she does something like cut in line, it really annoys other kids. It makes them not want to be her friend.
Did you even read my original post? Yes I know that her behavior annoys the other kids. Yes I know that it is not ok to hit (see my original post). Yes, I have talked to the coaches (original post). Yes, I work with my dd to give her strategies to gain calm, focus, and better social skills (once again, original post). Just because I recognize that a certain situation is difficult for my dd doesn't mean I am "blaming it on the other kids or the coach." I am talking about finding a better situation for my child, not being angry and belligerent with the coach and the other kids. I'm not here to vent about or try to change others' behavior. But I also know that my daughter is not an aggressive child and has never hit another child--not even her brother who pummels her all the time. And what do I think the coach should have done if my child hit another child? Take her away from the situation and dress her down in private, call me, reprimand her sharply and move on......No, I do not think holding up practice and fussing at her with the other girls circled around watching was the right thing to do.
post #7 of 40
Jumping around and having a hard time waiting in line are very normal things for kids this age even if your child does have something else going on that contributes. My dd does swimming and she has ups and downs with liking that as well. We keep pushing through and I find that she enjoys it overall so I keep having her go. It sounds like she is in a down phase and getting used to a new group. I think that it would be nice if the coach pulled her aside to talk to her next time, but with hitting sometimes that doesn't happen because teachers often go straight in and find out what is going on from both parties then address it in the moment or just address it in the moment if they saw that only one person did the hitting. I think you should talk to her about how to be a good friend and role play what to do when you are angry at someone, but also keep going to the lessons for now. No matter where you go you will find that kids this age tend to say some really mean things to each other. If this place is working on kindness and gymnastics then I think you should stick with them.
post #8 of 40
I think your dd is in over her head. Her physical ability seems to be mismatched with her social ability. There is a vast difference in maturity level between 4.5 and 6 yo's. From what you stated it sounds like your dd is still pretty immature (rightfully so, she is still very young) and she may have some medical issues you need to have investigated. At 6, most girls are much more socially aware than they were at 4. They notice when other children act out (like cutting in line) and try to distance themselves. Quite frankly, the invasion of personal space would be a huge issue with my oldest dd and she would probably react the same way the older girls did.

It sounds like this class is just not right for your child. If your dd still likes gymnastics, could you ask for her to be put back in the lower class, or find her another class with other girls her age?
post #9 of 40
If you are committed to gymnastics as something you value for your dd, you may want to think about what your goals are. She sounds stressed and understandably out of her element with the older kids. 4 1/2 is very young, and frankly the earlier program of 2x/week for 2 hours seems like a huge time commitment to begin with. do you want her to have fun, get some exercise, socialize? Then move her back down w/her peers if you can. There's no reason for her to be out of her age group at 4 1/2.

Or, you might find another sport/activity to take the place of gymnastics. I have frankly found gymnastics to be very competitve and focused on appearance in a way that we were never comfortable with for our kids. maybe she would enjoy something new?
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone for taking the time to respond. You know, I had felt that 2hrs 2x a week was a lot too, but I told dd to let me know if it ever felt like too much gymnastics or if she needed a break. She has always loved it and wanted to continue. But I agree, I think she is under some stress now in the class. At first I wasn't too concerned about the mean things, because I know that's the age. I guess what's distressing is that it is ongoing. I have started talking some to another mother whose child is in that class. Her daughter just turned 6 and she volunteered to me that she is surprised at some of the things her dd tells her about how nasty the girls are in class. So, I don't know how "normal" some of this particular mean behavior is or not.

We've definitely been working with dd on respecting people's space and how to deal with it when girls say something mean to her. Basically, at this point she just stands there doing and saying nothing as the other girls say the mean things (just ignore it). I feel as though I am failing her by having her just stand there and absorb the meannesses. But I am just afraid that if she speaks up fo herself, things will escalate and she will end up getting in trouble (this is what happened before).

Her skill level is such that I don't think moving her back a level is an option. I think she would get bored and restless. I keep reading suggestions to deal with "medical issues." I am doing the best I can on that front (diet, doctors, etc). What is frustrating is I think dd is doing the best she can as well. She's not trying to be annoying and exhibit "icky" behavior to bother the other girls. I really think a lot of it is lack of self control, which we work on constantly. Her behavior is really not horrible at this point (It may come across that way in my posts). The class still functions, and the coaches say that she is fine. It's just when they get in line that things start going wrong for dd.
post #11 of 40
I'd find her a new gym.

She loves the sport and is good at it, so there is no need to make her stop gymnastics, but the nasty behavior that is tolerated at this gym is ruining it for her.

Try to find a gym that has a class with advanced preschoolers. This gym's solution to your DD's advanced abilities was to place her in a class that is inappropriate for her social development, and it is causing the predictable problems.

Find a gym that offers a small class for the more advanced/serious preschoolers. A serious gym where they have other students at your DD's level who are not considerably chronologically older than your DD is.
post #12 of 40
I'd find her a new gym or a new sport. There is no need for her to 'stick it out'. She's FOUR, not 14.

The coaches seem to have very few effective strategies for dealing with the social issues. "Be kind to each other" isn't a very effective way to make young queen bees quit saying mean things. Yes, your dd hit other kids, but it sounds like there's a classic bullying cycle going on here - they say mean things, they get in your dd's face, then she reacts and gets caught. Because she's younger, and probably pretty reactive (kids with ADHD or ADHD-like tendencies often are highly reactive), she makes a great 'target'. Also, there are huge developmental changes in social cognition between 4 and 6. It's hard for a 4 year old to navigate the social world of a 6 year old.

It also sounds like the class is too structured for your dd - both given her age and her level of development. The other kids are not a good fit either. Dd is in a piano class with kids who are mostly 6, and there's one little boy there who is 4 1/2. Musically, he's fine, but socially he struggles because he's just too young. His impulse control is less, his social skills are less. Luckily, the parents are with the kids during the class, so it's not a problem. But I could see that this darling, bright boy could have real trouble if he were with a different group of kids or a different situation.

I'd second swimming as a good thing to try for a new sport - it's a good skill to have and really good for kids with lots of extra energy because the resistance of the water is really good for them.
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by naismama View Post
But I also know that my daughter is not an aggressive child and has never hit another child
then I misread your post. I thought you said that she hit other girl(s) during her last gymnastics class.

It sounds to me like the way you see your DD and the way her behavoir comes across to other children is very different. You see the sweetness in your DD, but the other children only see her behavoir. With her agemates, the expectations of the other children and the adults will be more in line with what she can handle.

Quote:
Take her away from the situation and dress her down in private, call me, reprimand her sharply and move on
many times coaches and teachers can't do that because they can't leave the other children unattended.

I think that you should transition her to an activity that her age is in line with her ability. I don't think she is ready to be with kids who are all a lot older than her.

I also think that you need to make playdates a higher priority.
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
then I misread your post. I thought you said that she hit other girl(s) during her last gymnastics class.

It sounds to me like the way you see your DD and the way her behavoir comes across to other children is very different. You see the sweetness in your DD, but the other children only see her behavoir. With her agemates, the expectations of the other children and the adults will be more in line with what she can handle.



many times coaches and teachers can't do that because they can't leave the other children unattended.

I think that you should transition her to an activity that her age is in line with her ability. I don't think she is ready to be with kids who are all a lot older than her.

I also think that you need to make playdates a higher priority.
Before this incident she had never hit another child. She has not since. And there were other coaches on the floor with the girls. I maintain that this could and should have been handled differently. But I am not here to complain about the way the gym is handling things. My concern is finding the best situation for my daughter.

eepster and LynnS6--I will look into other gyms. Thanks. It's just tough because she is so athletic, and so often times her abilities place her above her agemates. But I think you are right about this class not being a fit. The last class she was in was "advanced," but younger, and she was fine. She also does better in a mix of girls and boys, I think. DD does swim half an hour on Saturdays, and the kids in that class tend to be 3, 4, 5.
post #15 of 40
I also agree about finding another gym. Each class is going to have a different feel based on the kids in it and on how the instructor runs it. If this one isn't a good fit just look someplace else.

Another suggestion (that you may or may not like) is a class on manners. My park district has little "social" classes that deal with manners. It may make her more aware of how to behave with others in a social setting. Sometimes it doesn't come naturally, ya know? Just another idea. Plus, if it is a class where they are all learning how to act then it isn't singling her out for behavior.
post #16 of 40
Is it possible just to take a break for a bit? I haven't been involved with gymnastics, so I'm not sure how they work (seasons, semesters, etc.) From that, my suggestion would be to finish up whatever you've agreed to do and then take a few months' break. We will be taking the summer off from dance, and I'm really glad. DC enjoy it, but we all could use some downtime from the activity. Even sitting out a year could help her to grow socially. I was reading recently about the increase in sports injuries in small children who participate in one activity year-round, so it's something I've been thinking about with my own kids.

Changing gyms is a possibility if you think this class in particular is the problem. Co-ed is great (I say as someone who's always gotten along better with boys/men), but how many boys will be at another gym? My son is one of only 2 boys in our entire ballet school. I know gymnastics is a bit different, but I'd imagine the higher she goes, the fewer boys there will be. Also keep in mind, though, that a gym for more advanced preschoolers probably also will come with higher behavioral expectations for them. You may not be doing any better by going to other 4YOs who are all very advanced. Ime with music, it can get pretty demanding of children with stellar talent, so she may run into this problem anywhere.

If you decide to stay in this class, is it possible you can be closer to her during class? That may make her more of an outcast, but it could be helpful in preparing her long-term to have better social skills.
post #17 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristyMarie View Post
I also agree about finding another gym. Each class is going to have a different feel based on the kids in it and on how the instructor runs it. If this one isn't a good fit just look someplace else.

Another suggestion (that you may or may not like) is a class on manners. My park district has little "social" classes that deal with manners. It may make her more aware of how to behave with others in a social setting. Sometimes it doesn't come naturally, ya know? Just another idea. Plus, if it is a class where they are all learning how to act then it isn't singling her out for behavior.
I've actually thought about this, so thanks for reminding me . We have a class offered this summer through our park district. If she's old enough, I'll consider it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
Is it possible just to take a break for a bit? I haven't been involved with gymnastics, so I'm not sure how they work (seasons, semesters, etc.) From that, my suggestion would be to finish up whatever you've agreed to do and then take a few months' break. We will be taking the summer off from dance, and I'm really glad. DC enjoy it, but we all could use some downtime from the activity. Even sitting out a year could help her to grow socially. I was reading recently about the increase in sports injuries in small children who participate in one activity year-round, so it's something I've been thinking about with my own kids.

Changing gyms is a possibility if you think this class in particular is the problem. Co-ed is great (I say as someone who's always gotten along better with boys/men), but how many boys will be at another gym? My son is one of only 2 boys in our entire ballet school. I know gymnastics is a bit different, but I'd imagine the higher she goes, the fewer boys there will be. Also keep in mind, though, that a gym for more advanced preschoolers probably also will come with higher behavioral expectations for them. You may not be doing any better by going to other 4YOs who are all very advanced. Ime with music, it can get pretty demanding of children with stellar talent, so she may run into this problem anywhere.

If you decide to stay in this class, is it possible you can be closer to her during class? That may make her more of an outcast, but it could be helpful in preparing her long-term to have better social skills.
When I mentioned the co-ed thing, I wasn't thinking gymnastics. But I do think we will just try to get through the rest of this month then take a break. If we don't start up again at this gym, we will try a smaller gym. The one we go to now is very big and very busy with cheer classes and a big and popular skating program (it is also almost 30 minutes away, and I think the drive is tiring for dd). There is so much going on during dd's class, and it is not easy to stay close and keep an eye on what's happening when they are on the floor. I agree that I would need to stay closer to her in these types of situations until she settles into some better social skills. She does so well with just one or two other kids. It's when she's around a slew of kids that we run into trouble.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by naismama View Post
She does so well with just one or two other kids. It's when she's around a slew of kids that we run into trouble.
Does she do better in shorter things and/or things with less waiting?

A two hour gymnastics class would involve far more waiting-for-your-turn than most activities.
post #19 of 40
I have a 7y old that is involved in gymnastics, it sounds like they are similar in skill level. Mine is getting ready to move up to the last level before team. We also have been involved in gymnastics since she was 3. I can say that the girls in DD1's level are not tolerant of children that are like your DD and I say this with a child that has quirks of her own. It isn't the children themselves but the age, there is a huge difference in the maturity level of a 4 year old and a 6/7/8 year old. DD1 had/has her own issues to learn how to handle to I understand that but it does not sound like this gym is a good fit. I would agree with finding another one. We go to a small gym and the kids like your DD have their own program where they can learn higher skills with other younger children instead of being put in with the older kids.
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
Co-ed is great (I say as someone who's always gotten along better with boys/men), but how many boys will be at another gym?
Even if the gym has plenty of boys (the serious one we considered for DS did, but we went with a relaxed class at the community center) once you are past the basic level they separate the boys and girls classes. Boys and girls do different skills in gymnastic competitions.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Should we keep going with this or make a change? (gymnastics--long)