Should I Pull My Daughter Out of Gymnastics, or Not?

Updated on December 11, 2008
M.O. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
23 answers

Ok, here is the jist, Ihave had my 3 yr old daughter in gymnastics for almost a year now. She goes for about 45 mins, once a week. Earlier this year, she had a a little show where her and all the other students showed what they had learned and received medals. She didn't do too well. She sucked her thumb and held the instuctors hand during warm up. She didn't get into the groove of things until they started on the bars. I didn't think anything of it cuz she had just started gymnastics. However, lately every time I try to drop her off at gymnastics she grabs onto my leg and fights me to let go. Then when I pick her up she doen't want to leave. So there was another little show for the parents to see what the children had learned a few days ago. She did worse than the first show. She sucked her thumb,( That's a whole different topic that is driving me nuts), and did not participate in the warm up at all. When she saw that I was there she just wanted me to hold her. I wouldn't, and encouraged her to do as the other kids were doing. Then during the routine, she only went along with the instructor and other kids when she felt like it. There were other kids that were younger that followed instuctions a whole lot better. I realise that she is 3. I have her in pre-k 3. I wonder if I'm pushing her too hard. I asked her if she wanted to stay in gymnastics or not. She says she likes gymnastics and does not want to quit. Yet, I wonder if she is just parroting me. I hate to teach her to quit when she is in the middle of something. But, I also hate wasting time and money on something she is not ready for yet. Sorry for going on and on. I just need some advise on if I should keep her in and hope she will eventually get it. Or, should I pull her out and wait till she is more mature and actually has the motivation to make herself get it? Thanks for any advise.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to all for all the wonderful advise. I spoke with my husband, and we decided that we are going to pull our daughter out of gymnastics, for the time being. I figure she gets lots of social interaction at her school and neiborhood kids. So I'm going to let her take a break for a while from gymnastics. In about a year or more, if she wants, I'll put her back in. Thanks again.

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answers from Fort Smith on

I suggest you speak to her instructor. See what her behavior is like for the instructor. As long as she enjoys it and is not in it at this age to be competitive, she should be fine. All three of mine have taken gymnastics starting with the mom and tot class when they were toddlers. Some children are extremely nervous when they know that people are watching them. For example, there are plenty of children that enjoy dance class all year, but cannot (or refuse to) perform at the recital. You cannot judge solely from how she performs on a night that she is "on display." It is also very normal for children at that age to not transition well. That is likely why she clings to you when you get there and doesn't want to leave when it is over. I would definitely remove her from the class if she was clingy, cried the whole time and couldn't wait to leave when you pick her up. That doesn't sound like the case here.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Goodness, when does the little darling get to play and just be a toddler. She probably does enjoy gymnastics, but it seems she isn't ready for that much time away from Mommy right now. I would take her out of gymnastics and just lover her for a while. Let her grow up.

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answers from Lake Charles on


I am 60, have raised two boys, and adopted a daughter when I was 48. I do not think I would take her out of gymnastics,if you think she really likes it, just do not make her get in front of all these people to show what she has learned. How does she do when you are not there? She needs to be a three year old kid above everything. They cannot discipline themselves for routines in gymnastics like the older children can. What is the teacher expecting of these three year old children? Are they required to participate in this function before the parents? If she is not having fun and gaining some kind of development from gymnastics, then I would probably have to reconsider why I have her in it. My daughter stayed home with me until she was 5. I did not put her in pre-k, she was only 4, and I thought she was too young. That would put her 14 years in school and that is not counting college. That is why so many kids get sick of school and sports. Take her out for a while and see how she does. Compare the two and then make a decision.

Good Luck
S. Miller



answers from New Orleans on

It is supposed to be fun. If she is not having fun anymore, I would take a break, and try again next yr if she wants to go back. Good luck!



answers from Pine Bluff on

Hey M., no worries...we put my youngest into soccer when he was was 4 on 4 rather than a full team like his older brother played...he wanted to just hang back and play a position that didn't exist at his age (he knew way too much about the sport for his age group) we kept him out for a year then put him back in when he was 6. he never slowed down after that. Sometimes you just have to give them a little time....try pulling her out for a year or even 6 months then talk to her about it and see if she wants to start again....maybe there's something else she'd rather do....we always gave our boys the options, that way they weren't doing a sport,etc that they thought we wanted them to do, it was their choice and it worked much better....

as far as the thumb sucking, this same son sucked his thumb all the time till he was 5 then only when in that half awake half asleep state till he was about 6 1/2. we did all the "your not a baby anymore" etc...type stuff, but when he quit, he quit....she'll work thru that too....good luck....R.



answers from Tulsa on

My daughter did the same thing at 3yrs old. We have the cutest video of her walking off stage by herself, she was walking very slow! We wait to put her in again, until she start school. Now, she has been in it since she was 5, now 15 and teaches a little kids class there too. She loves it. Good Luck!



answers from Tulsa on

Short answer: Sounds like you should wait a couple of years. She may not ever like it but then many kids do not. If a kid doesn't love something then they are a huge burden on the class.

On the other hand....the thumb sucking, the hanging on you. It sounds like she may be insecure and these activities may help with that.

Its a tough call because you cannot do both. You just have to pick a certain path and be happy for your decision. If it were me, I would pull her out and wait until 5,6 or 7 for an activity.



answers from Jonesboro on

I coached developmental gymnastics for almost 10 years.

I would tell you to go with your heart.
Most every kid that was in my class loved it. Our class was based on fun, socialization, and learning. You're kid is not in developmental gymnastics once a week if you're trying to make them be a gymnast. That takes much more vigorous training. If you just want her to have fun and be with other little kids, along with having a little break yourself and she is having fun- go with it.

Ask the instructor if she is participating- most I find, will be honest with you. It may be that she just gets 'shy' at the shows. That happens to many kids and she may just have her own way of 'warming up'. In my years of coaching I had many kids that just watched during that time. It's very normal for kids that age. It may be that the time of day is not good for her. You could try a different time slot.

Overall, I think gymnastics or any type of low key activity and socialization is beneficial to kids, but not neccesary. I wouldn't fret over it- ask her, ask the instructor, ask your heart- you'll have your answer.



answers from Tulsa on

Hi M.,
I don't know! That's a hard one! Maybe you should pull her out temporarily and see if she wants to go back or if she really doesn't care. Maybe she would prefer a new, different activity? I don't know and I'm curious to see what the other moms say!
Good luck!



answers from Baton Rouge on

what does the instructor think? does he/she think there is potential there? Truthfully I think I would wait to five then have her evaluated as to her potential.

God Bless Merry Christmas



answers from Birmingham on

Three is still very young for some children (unless they have older siblings and are more mature). It seems to me and sounds like to you that she isn't ready to participate in a group event of this nature. She should not be involved since it may also be distracting the other children and she would enjoy private lessons or a "mom and me" type of class. Some ballet classes offer these are are WONDERFUL! Tell her you're going to take a gymnastics break and you might even consider swim lessons so she'll be ready for the spring/summer. These are fun and can also be done in a group or individual and are necessary life skills. Call a local YMCA>



answers from Little Rock on

Quit wasting your time, strength, and money, for right now. Let her have a break through the spring and try to re-enroll her next school year for gymnastics, or possibly try to find a different program that focuses more on the fun. I know how you feel about your child not minding, I have a 3 year old son and among going through the divorce last year, his psychiatrist diagnosed him with transitional disorder with anxiety. He is also in 3 Pre K. Some days we have really good days and then the next day, totally not listening/minding or doing the exact opposite of what he is being told to do. Example - walk to the carpet (he runs around his class room) So your daughter might just be normal, but maybe you might need to try her is something different than gymnastics? In central Arkansas where I live, last month we finished up Little Kickers Soccer.



answers from Oklahoma City on

At our gymnastics center the 2 - 5 year olds have thier own gym that looks like a huge indoor playground. The kids have a blast and work on some skills too. Still a few kids are disruptive or uncooperative, but most love it. NO pressure. With your daughter being introduced to the beam and bars, it doesn't sound like that is the case where you are.

Her skills at 3 are no way a reflection on what she will be capable of at an older age. If she takes a few years off and tries gymnastics at 5 or 6, she will quickly catch up to any kids that have been taking the classes.

Right now, find something that is fun with less structure and less pressure. She doesn't need to be in a formal activity at all, but if you want her to, look for a sing and dance class. (not a true dance class where you have to line up and learn tap steps - again too young) Gymboree, Little Gym, our Y has a tumbling class for preschool that is more play and a few skills, something that can be fun and successful.



answers from Oklahoma City on

M., I think you need to check your motivation. If you are already at 3 expecting her to work hard at gymnastics, I am more inclined to think you are not ready for it rather then she not being ready. The point of any sport at that age is to let the child explore how her body works and how she can use fun activity to be healthy. My quesiton to you is do you do something you may not be good at for the meer joy it brings you? My daughter just took ballet for the first time last year (5) she is certainly not the most talented in her class, but she LOVES it. She whines everytime we showed up because she was tired, but her joy at the end of class made it worth it. It is my job as her mom to walk her through that. To make her realize the joy she shows after and encourage her through the hard times, not give her the option to quit. In fact this year, she added two classes because she thought the recital was the best day in her life. If your daughter is pressured to always do and do well, you have a long road ahead of you! Relax let her go if she wants and "perform" her best at the shows. But, never let her quit in the middle- I know it is frustrating and expensive, but it will teach a greater life lesson- to you and her. You both will have pause before you sign up for the next activity- and you will have an aggreement to stick it out and respect each others decision. Good luck with your little Hamm! :)



answers from Huntsville on

as to the thumb sucking -- as my mother-in-law told me, she hasn't seen any bride or groom going down the aisle sucking their thumbs or still in diapers!

3 is young. Do you stay and watch from the sidelines or leave?

I understand you probably want to focus some of that energy somewhere -- I know I certainly did for my son --

My mother (see I had lots of advice!) says that a three year old's attention span is probably about 5 minutes. Since she is in class with several other children, it's probably more like a great socialization than actual "work". I would think you would know your child the best - go with your gut -- remembering, she's only 3!



answers from Tulsa on

At age 3 she really is too young to understand the concept of quitting what you start. So you shouldn't have to worry about it teaching her something bad to quit. Sounds to me like she's just not ready. You'd be better off to take her out for a year or so and then she might actually be ready to go back. But if you push her too hard now she'll end up hating it and never want to go back. I say pull her out and just let her be a 3 year old. She must not be comfortable with it if she's sucking her thumb instead of participating. That is her way of comforting herself. Hope you're getting some good advice to help with your decision. Good luck.



answers from Tulsa on

The thing that would worry me most is that she holds on to you want you try to drop her off. I also wonder if she does this at other places or just at gym. If she does it at other place I would say she has a separated worry. My son lose both grand moms in 3 months at around that ago he was so worry I was not going to come back when I leaved him some place he would yell and cry. after several time of talking to him and come back when I say he get over it. Also I would allow my daughter to sat out show if she id not comfortable with then. She can have show just for you and dad. When she is old I would try it again the shoe that is. If she does not have a problem with you being gone I would have a talk with the couch maybe she knows of something that happen at the gym that she did not thing was anything big so she did not tell you but it is a problem to your little one. If there is a problem you can fix it. Also tell to other moms about the couch if you even wonder about about her.



answers from Baton Rouge on

A lot depends on what you hope to achieve by having her in gymnastics. Do you have her there so that she will become a good gymnast, or so that she will have a chance to get some physical exercise and socialization with other kids?
If you have her there in order for her to become a gymnast, you're doing it for the wrong reason.
If you have her there for exercise and socialization, and she likes that aspect of it, then let her stay, regardless of how well she performs. If she enjoys the class, but doesn't want to perform in the "recitals," don't push her to do so. She may just not like being in front of a crowd. Not everyone likes to perform for an audience. Recitals are held as much for the teachers to advertise how good they are and drum up business among the aunties, uncles, cousins, etc. who come to see the performers as for the kids to show off their skills. The teachers can advertise without your daughter's participation.
As for the drop-off and pick-up drama, that's pretty comon for that age. It happens frequently at day cares. I wouldn't stress over it, and I wouldn't start hanging around during the classes because of it. Hovering will just make it worse.



answers from Tulsa on

When I enrolled K in gymnastics the place I choose allows parents to stay the entire time. His wife teaches dance in other parts of the building and she doesn't allow parents except once a trimester. The thing I think happens to little kids when their parents visit is just normal for their age. When we visited dance class K kept running over and wanting hugs. She never acts like that, never. It was just silly. She is used to us being in gymnastics and never even notices us there. I did notice that this year that the 3 yr. olds really look so young and they do tend to act more immature because it is a new situation and they are developing independence skills.

By the way, all the kids hate warm up time. The bars and balance beam are their favorite. The trampoline comes in close second.

Give her more time, let her develop these skills at her own pace. If the teacher says she is doing okay and is participating when parents aren't there then give her a chance to learn. Even if she only participates half the time she is still learning about her body and strengthening it and gaining those social skills. It's half way through the year. I say stick it out.

I remember when I was in church jr. choir, I was elementary school age. My mom came to see us do a program. I sat and giggled and waved to her the whole time. She had never attended church and it was funny and new to me. I look back and think "gosh, that was so silly of me, why in the world did I act like that"? I may have even been close to 10 years old. Kids act differently when parents are around. Always.




answers from Tulsa on

It doesn't sound like she's ready for that type of class. If it were me, I'd look for some activity that you can be a part of (Mommy & Me) or just wait until she's more ready to participate in an activity on her own.



answers from Enid on

my daughter was in gymnastics and didn't want to do what everyone else was doing, plus the teacher didn't really care, great if they participated and if not oh well,

from what you said, just my opinion but she doesn't seem ready, she has plenty of time to discover what sport she might want to do, i'd take her out and then try again when she's a little older, shes really to young to truly know if she loves it or not. Good luck




answers from Tulsa on

Personally I think she is too young for gymnastics, so I would probably ask her again if she wants to continue going and tell her you are thinking of taking her out, and that it's okay if she doesn't want to do it anymore. It IS okay to quit something she doesn't like/isn't good at/isn't ready for, etc. It doesn't teach her bad habits to be a "quitter" when things get tough. It teaches her that her mother cares enough to want her to be happy. Especially at this young age, she shouldn't feel pressured to stay in an activity just so she won't be a quitter. How do kids ever know what they like if they never try anything? You can't expec them to like every activity, so it's okay to drop out if they don't. However, it is odd that she said she likes it, but her actions show differently. It could be that she likes the actual gymnastics stuff but gets scared (stage fright) at "performance time". Have you talked to the instructor to get his/her take on how she is doing and if he/she thinks she is enjoying it/doing okay/etc.?



answers from Lawton on

Is it possible to stay in the building as an audience during gymnastics? At ours we stay there off the gymnastics floor for the 45 minutes our 3yos are in class.

Otherwise, it does sound like she's trying to tell you she's uncomfortable there and would rather be at home. She's got her entire childhood to find something she's interested in. :)

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