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Am I being unreasonable to pull child out of gym squad

(38 Posts)
Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 09:04:05

My daughter is 6 and does gym in a large city gym which is very closed door with parents. She is in the squad and does a lot of hours and has absolutely loved it to date. Recently however has started to come out upset because she’s being asked to do things that hurt and are increasingly difficult. She feels she is the worst in her group (there are some awesome little gymnasts in there). The coaches are quite hard on them which I’m told is industry standard.

Despite being very upset about being in pain or scared by a fall, she wants to stay because she wants to see her squad friends. I’ve suggested she moves into an easier group and we do play dates with squad friends, but she said she wouldn’t like seeing all her friends together and her in a separate group. I definitely think we need to cut her hours whereas her coaches say she should do more if she’s finding it hard, to catch up.

My mum instinct says pull her out completely and protect her from what feels like a very cult like activity with uncommunicative coaches and some crazily competitive parents. We fell into gym rather by accident and I never expected her to be spotted or any good - if I had I would have never let her start it. We are very hands off parents who deliberately don’t push our kids in any field including school and we want her to have fun and just ‘be’ when she’s not at school and try lots of activities and sports. This feels increasingly like a job, an addiction, an obsession, not fun. The hours of training and competitions at weekends have crept up on us and feel too much - we want to chill at the weekends as a family and do normal stuff, but it seems so hard to leave. The lack of communication with the gym doesn’t help and makes me go into over protective mode and want to just pull her out and remove the problem.

She loves the gym itself, constantly doing it at home for fun, and loves her expanding repertoire. She loves showing us her stuff. She loves her friends. She loves an awful lot of the training sessions too. And that’s making her want to stay.

Do I let her continue despite the warning bells or is six just too young to make an informed choice and should I just make it for her? And is it reasonable to take into account the fact that we don’t want our lives to be taken over by this? I’m aware it will only get worse.

Would really welcome your thoughts, especially from any gym parents out there.

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 04-Feb-18 09:12:28

Very tricky and I'm not sure myself what I would do in your shoes, but re the friendship thing - 6 is still young enough for friendships to be fairly fluid and I wouldn't worry to much about that beyond the short term. But I did want to ask if you had any circus places near you? As you meantioned large city I thought perhaps you might. If she shows talent in this area then a sideways step to circus arts might be worth investigating. It would be an outlet for her but in a non-competitive, no pressure environment. Things like tumbling, trapeze, silks, acro balance ajd contortion... I discovered it as a young adult but wish I had when I was little! I think it might be a much better environment to develop her talent without all the bits you don't like. Most circus spaces run youth classes or programmes. Could you take her for a trial to see before quitting gymnastics?

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 09:17:18

I love this idea DrR - I don’t know if we do but we are in a big city so will investigate - thank you. I think that’s what we want for her - the movement/exercise outlet but without the competition. Plenty of time for healthy competition when she’s a bit older and able to make her own informed decisions about participation. Thank you.

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 04-Feb-18 09:22:18

If you want to pm me the city I can let you know what's available? I think if she has a couple of sessions she will be much more open to the idea of quitting gym. That and show her a video of cirque du soleil grin I agree gym is not a healthy activity for a child that age when it gets to crazy competitive level...

Norugratsatall Sun 04-Feb-18 09:26:56

My DD is 20 now but I feel your pain as we had all this! Ridiculously competitive, hard-nosed coaches. Having to give up numerous weekends for the endless comps. One was on my birthday and I was expected to get up at stupid o clock and take her! My DD was good and progressed well and, more importantly, loved it so I let her continue. She lost interest around 13 and gave it up and Id never been so relieved. If it was just the gym, it might not have been so bad, but there was dance and swimming and piano lessons etc.

I think maybe let her carry on as she loves it but have a word with the coaches about how she's finding some of the moves tricky. They have a duty of care to her! Children are not little robots! You may find, at 6, she is suddenly able to do all the difficult moves and progresses. Good luck!

bungleberry Sun 04-Feb-18 09:28:09

My now 17 year old has been in gymnastics since she was 5. It only gets worse I'm afraid. From age 9 she trained 23 hours a week, it has taken over everything and at times I have felt resentful of That, like you I had no idea what we were signing up for.
That said she has had some amazing opportunities travelled across Europe competing has loved every second of it, and is now coaching as well as training.
She is fit, disciplined she maintained her training schedule on top of taking 12 GCSEs passed them all.
It has required significant family sacrifices, once they start competing there is no time off. This is for non GB squad or England squad.
I have been grateful of the focus during the teenage years !!. And now she can travel to and from gym on her own it has freed up my time.
The thing I have had to learn is to step away and not get overly involved, it is her hobby and I am just the bank and taxi service.
Would I do it again ? Not sure it's a big sacrifice financially and time wise, but she is now an independent, determined young lady who I think will go far with the skills she has learnt by being a gymnast.

RandomMess Sun 04-Feb-18 09:58:49

I can really recommend Allstar Cheerleading (so no poms poms it's all tumbling and stunts) it is competitive but without the pressure of gymnastics- you compete as a team. Hopefully it will formally get recognised as a sport soon - it's basically acro gymnastics but at a more speedy pace.

Another thing to look is acro dance classes.

If you pm where you live I can help you find a local squad as it can be a bit confusing IME!

Didiplanthis Sun 04-Feb-18 10:52:33

I was going to say maybe look into acro classes at a dance school. My dd does acro and tumbling through her dance school. Not to any great level but the more advanced kids are doing some serious tumbling and balances so she could use her skills in a non competitive environment and a small competent tumbler would be in huge demand to be thrown about and on top of the balances !!!

CappuccinoCake Sun 04-Feb-18 10:57:43

We had a similar situation and looking back I wish we had changed to a less competitive gym that wasn't so pushy. She pulled out altogether after getting upset about being pushed too hard. My little one never got I to it and didn't have to miss birthday parties etc...

It's so all consuming when you're in it and you look back and realise how young they are.

Cauliflowersqueeze Sun 04-Feb-18 11:01:22

I think you know in your heart it’s not right.
She can make loads of new friends at less competitive places. She shouldn’t come out of somewhere like that at age 6 feeling unhappy.

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 11:43:49

Cauliflower you have nailed it. I need to trust my instincts but it really is like being in a cult - it happens so gradually that you come to believe that it’s normal. I feel it in the gut though - it’s the hours, the seriousness, the encroachment on family time, gym to the exception of all else and then the fact that they are being pushed, constantly. I know that’s the very nature of the sport but it’s not what we are about as a family and it feels very wrong. She may have potential, but if she has to go through any sort of pain to achieve it, at 6 years old, then it’s really not for us. Or her.

Dr, i have googled and found a smaller gym which does recreational and not competitive gymnastics but loads of other stuff like trampoline, tumbling and circus, and I think it sounds perfect. The palpable relief I feel at the idea of not spending every night chauffeuring my daughter to a place that feels wrong (for us) or never again having to sit in competitions at weekends with parents coaching from the sidelines and videoing all the kids’ performances to compare afterwards with their own child (not joking) shows that it’s the right decision for us. Thank you so much for the alternative suggestions.

CappuccinoCake Sun 04-Feb-18 11:45:28

Oh wow that sounds perfect!

I know exactly what you mean - the excitement each time they go up a class but that comes with more hours and commitment. It was crazy looking back and my one hates gym now - finding a better one now sounds perfect.

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 04-Feb-18 11:53:40

Perfect. New one sounds just the same as DS' gym. (Wonder if it's the same? You in south west?!)

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 11:55:37

Thanks cappuccino. I showed her some of the tumbling and circus stuff and she said it looked like so much more fun than her current stuff and she’s really happy to go elsewhere and do something new. That says it all doesn’t it?

I am feeling an awful amount of guilt now about letting it go on for so long, as I think that in retrospect she was also a bit brain washed about what was normal. Her progression has been phenomenal, but I just don’t get why it has to be such a rush. It seems to fit with the all too common competitive parenting/schooling/lifestyle that goes on these days that we work hard to actively resist and to shelter our child from, and I feel (know) that in relation to gymnastics we have fallen for it.

Am going to do a fair amount of reflection in the coming weeks as I think this will change how I parent from now on and what and who I allow to influence both us and our child.

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 11:57:02

DrR - don’t want to out myself but does it begin with an A?!

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 04-Feb-18 11:57:29

Yes! Name means something pivotal?!

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 12:01:30

DrR - will pm you after my party run! Once I’ve worked out how to pm....

DrRanjsRightEyebrow Sun 04-Feb-18 12:03:52

Ha! Yes do - also on a party run in an hour grin Been going there since DS 18 months (starting with their soft play sessions) so I know them all pretty well. Love it. Also got local circus tip offs for you for taster sessions...

RandomMess Sun 04-Feb-18 13:45:27

@Gymwidow the new one sounds great. My DD did Cheer because our local gymnastics club was similar little kids training 5 sessions per week plus competitions- no way was I letting my DD join that cult and potentially damage her body in the process!

Cheer is a max of 4 competitions per year - great fun, all about being part of the team. The better ones just compete at a higher level and most carry on as adults because they love it.

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 18:34:42

Thanks for that Random, the cheer sounds nothing like I expected it to- When I think of cheer I think of American kids, short skirts and being on the sidelines of a male sport! Do they do it in mixed groups? I love the idea of being in a team, I felt the team spirit in gym was lost in the desire to beat your team mates.

RandomMess Sun 04-Feb-18 19:01:41

They still mostly wear the skimpy outfits grinwell for competitions! Yes mixed teams although boys a minority in most squads.

Competition routine is 2.5 minutes with 30 seconds of "dance" the rest is a mixture of tumbles and stunts - all very fast!!

I think it would be one or 2 classes per week probably 1-2 hours each and that's it. Certainly our club it's only one class per week per team you are in (you only have to be in one) apart from the level 5 team which is a senior team (over 15).

RandomMess Sun 04-Feb-18 19:18:03

www.bing.com/videos/search?q=cheer+routine+clip+uk&&view=detail&mid=095BF744C8931AEECBFC095BF744C8931AEECBFC&&FORM=VDRVRV

This is a level 3 team (level 1 is lowest and only goes up to 6) I think it's the section that would be your DDs age. This is just a random team I found on you tub, think it's American but the rules are the same and top teams can compete internationally if they wish.

cuttingcarbonemissions Sun 04-Feb-18 19:26:07

This struck a chord with me...

I was once a little gymnast. I was also the worst in my group - mainly because I was too tall. My mother could not see that and made me continue even though I hated it.

When she finally saw the light after several miserable years I took up another sport and was soon at county standard.

Listen to what your DD is saying. If she is not enjoying gymnastics there are lots of other sports out there.

Gymwidow Sun 04-Feb-18 21:42:12

Hi cutting - sorry you were made to do something you didn’t want to, it’s a familiar story, lots of mums at my daughyer’s gym living out their fantasies through their small kids. Throw in a tough coach and small kids and that’s a heady mix right there. It’s frightening really.

Difference here is we’ve been led by our daughter, not her led by us. The gym was at her request initially, the extra hours were at her request (albeit after being ‘spotted’), the commitment is hers not ours. Looking back though, her commitment is that of a gullible child, told she’s amazing and showered with love and praise and compliments but then, in tiny bite sized steps, told she’s not amazing enough and needs to ‘work harder’. So my guilt is not pushing her into something she doesn’t want to do, it’s not putting on the parental brakes when I should have done so.

I’m listening and taking action now though.

Gymwidow Tue 06-Feb-18 12:43:48

Thank you to everyone who posted on here. By way of an update I have my daughter booked in for a taster session at another non competitive gym (where DrRanj goes coincidentally enough!). My daughter seems very pleased and other stories are starting to emerge as we chat through the changes - that other children often cry through sessions (my daughter doesn’t but she is genuinely super tough and not a cryer), that the coaches sometimes shout at them, and even that one coach told her 5 year old team mate that if she didn’t stop crying she would close the curtain to the viewing area so her mum couldn’t see her crying. I didn’t know any of this, and I assume that’s because my daughter came to think this was normal. And why wouldn’t she - her mum and dad dropped her off and entrusted her to the care of these people, who are grown ups, which means they must be right, doesn’t it?

I am so very glad to have made the decision that she will not continue in the squad or at this gym. I know it’s industry standard in a tough sport but it feels totally contrary to everything your gut tells you about parenting and child welfare.

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