Before I begin, let me give a pat on the back to all gymnastics parents; your job is not easy! Most of you agreed to this job because of an unconditional love for your child, and his/her undying love for the sport.
1. Empower Your Gymnast
If a gymnast is frustrated, dealing with fear, or lacking motivation, all too often we want to fix the problem for them. Might I suggest providing inspiration instead of a solution.
LISTEN to your gymnast’s thoughts and feelings, instead of instruct or interrogate. Try an open-ended question to get the conversation started such as, “What was your favorite thing about gymnastics today?” or “You look a little down, what are you feeling?”
RELATED POST: 25 Conversation Starters for After Gym
VALIDATE feelings. If a gymnast has fear, frustration, or disappointment – recognize her struggles with empathy by restating what you hear her expressing, “I can tell you were frustrated that you fell on your routine.”
REDIRECT perspective if a child is having negative feelings/views or REINFORCE when the child is communicating positive experiences.
EMPOWER your gymnast by allowing her to create her own solution. Allowing her time to express her thoughts is an opportunity for her to find a solution. If she is having trouble finding resolve you can ask questions to guide her. This encourages her to do the thinking and teaches her to believe in her abilities.
One of my favorite books on this subject is, HOW TO TALK SO KIDS WILL LISTEN & LISTEN SO KIDS WILL TALK.
2. Be a Cheerleader
“A Lot of people have gone farther than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.” – Zig Zagler.
It is important for gymnasts to know that they have parents supporting them on the good days as well as the bad.
DO comment on the positive.
DO cheer on your gymnast and her teammates (this is not golf)!
DO share your unconditional love.
DO NOT analyze scores, routines or other gymnasts.
DO NOT impose your ambitions, goals, dreams or intensity upon your son or daughter . . . allow for their own dreams/desires.
3. Make your Home (& Car) a Coach-Free Zone
When a child leaves the gym, they need to be able to turn back into a daughter/son. Inappropriate “parent-coaching” includes:
INTERROGATION – “Why didn’t you make your kip today!?”
CORRECTIONS – “Try twisting earlier.”
HOME-WORK – “You have 100 push-up’s before bed.”
SPOTTING – Spotting your gymnast without proper training and equipment is dangerous, yikes!
Fear, burn-out, confusion, and injury can be a result of any and all the above.
4. Communicate with the Coach when Necessary
Finding a proper communications strategy with your child’s coach is important. Too much communication can be burdensome on coaches, but relying on others for information can also be problematic. Some things to think about . . .
(1) If your question/concern is not child-specific you may be able to find information without contacting the coach directly. Try communicating with the gym’s office. Check the gym’s website and paper work. Review your emails.
(2) Each coach has a different preferred means for communication: emails, texting, voice mails, scheduled meetings, etc. Ask your child’s coach when and how is best to communicate with them.
(3) If you have child/program-specific concerns address them with the coach or program director before taking it to the stands.
(4) Communicate for your child only when the child is unable to communicate for themselves.
(5) If your child is unhappy or not wanting to come to gym, bring it to your coach’s attention so that a positive change can be made.
5. Enjoy the Ride
Figuratively speaking . . . enjoy the ride. If you’re in it for the long haul, become a fan of the sport!
Literally speaking . . . enjoy the ride. As your child commits more hours and days to the gym, you may feel as if you are loosing out. The commute to and from the gym is a golden opportunity for bonding. To ensure quality time keep the phones, iPods, dvd player, tablets, etc. out of use. Be bold and turn off the radio (or turn it up and sing with your child at the top of your lungs)!