10 Commandments of Gymnastics Parenting

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1. Gymnastics is not life.  Put other things before it.  Gymnastics might feel like life to your child and that is perfectly normal.  Your child is a child.  And, therefore, has the perspective of a child. You are an adult.  Keep the big picture of raising a child in mind.

2. Thou shalt not compare progress of thy child to that of others’.  Everyone’s gymnastics journey is different.  Some kids progress faster than others.  Comparing your child to another child will only make the feel superior (not an attractive quality), inferior (not useful in developing self-esteem) or not loved for who they are (not good for your long-term relationship).

3. Thou shalt not speak poorly of child’s coach within earshot of child.  You can disagree with your child’s coach.  You can even be really angry at your child’s coach.  But if you choose to speak poorly about the coach to your child and you’ve just undermined your child’s ability to learn from and have respect for the coach. 

4. Remember what time practices and meets begin and end, and be on time.  Enough said.

5. Honor thy teammates, coaches and gym.  Don’t gossip in the gym.  Be a good, constructive member of the community.   If you have a problem with something, go speak to the person who can do something about it.  

6. Thou shalt not coach one’s child.  Unless you are actually the coach, don’t confuse your child by coaching from the bleachers, on the car ride home or at the dinner table. 

7. Thou shalt not make child feel responsible for your financial choices.  Gymnastics is an expensive sport.  If you, as the adult in the family, make the choice to have your child involved in the sport you may not hold the cost of the sport over her head.  Absolutely hold her accountable to attend practices that she asked to be enrolled in and even to finish the commitment she made to the classes or team, but don’t turn that commitment on money.  Instead emphasize respect and honoring commitments.  And, while I am not a financial advisor, please think very hard before going into debt for the sake of pursuing gymnastics. 

8. Thou shalt not use the pronoun “we” in referring to the child’s sport.  “We” do not have gymnastics practice and “we” are not trying to move up to Level 5.  This is your child’s activity and your child’s experience.  Absolutely support your child along the way, but let your child own this journey.   

9. Thou shalt not play mind games with thy child.  Do not goad a child struggling with the snide offer of “quitting.”  Do not promise a grand reward for qualifying to championship meets, over coming a fear or obtaining a certain score as a means to motivate.  Do not name call, withhold affection or storm out of a competition if your child does not do well. 

10 Thou shalt not abdicate your parenting role.  You are the steward of your child’s health, safety, education and general well-being.  Gymnastics can and should be a wonderful contributing factor to your child’s development. But as a parent, it is up to you to assure that it is so.