Perfectionism and gymnastics often go hand in hand.

5 Things You Can Do Help Your Perfectionist Gymnast

It can be tricky knowing how to navigate the ups and downs that come from parenting a gymnast who sets really high expectations for herself.

Perfectionism is a trait that so many gymnasts have in common.

And yet it's one that can destroy a gymnast's confidence and sense of self-worth.

On one hand, it's great that your gymnast has such high expectations for herself. You want her to achieve her goals and feel a sense of accomplishment.

 On the other hand, the stress and pressure it causes her can be overwhelming for both you and her.

Not to mention that for a perfectionist, she often feels failure when she doesn't achieve the standards she set. In fact, she can take an all-or-nothing approach to gymnastics which is detrimental to her self-esteem since gymnastics is a hard sport filled with failure after failure. 

So what can you do if you have a gymnast who sets high expectations for herself and gets frustrated when she doesn't achieve them?

 

Here are 5 things you can do to help your perfectionist gymnast:

1. Help your gymnast identify what she can control and what she can't

Make it clear to your gymnast that there are many things she cannot control in terms of her success.

She can’t control how difficult the judges are judging that meet, her coach's behaviors or attitudes towards her, or how well other gymnasts perform around her.

She CAN control her effort, however, which is what you want to make sure she understands. 

2. Model healthy self-talk for your gymnast

Teach your child to be compassionate towards herself as opposed to constantly critical.

You can do this by modeling your own healthy self-talk.

As silly as this may feel, having conversations with yourself out loud show your gymnast what you do in those situations. This helps her to direct her own behaviors when she faced with a similar situation.

Through your modeling, you will show your gymnast that you are kind to yourself even when you make a mistake.

You might say things like, “I forgot to sign that permission slip for your brother today. I’ll try to do better tomorrow,” or “I wasn’t paying attention and I forgot to start the dryer. I’ll find a different shirt for you to where and I’ll pay better attention next time you need a certain shirt."

While you might not be able to change the outcome with your words, you can use your words to help show your gymnast that mistakes happen and that you can be compassionate with yourself when they do.

 

5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Perfectionist Gymnast

3. Set realistic goals with your gymnast 

Talk to your gymnast about the goals she wants to reach in gymnastics.

If her goals require perfection (i.e. getting only 9.0s or above on every event, getting first place at every meet, winning the Olympics), help her create more realistic goals.

Talk to her about why setting unrealistic goals can diminish her confidence. Help her get excited about the new and more realistic goals she is setting!

4. Praise your gymnast's effort and not her results

Avoid praising your gymnast for getting a 9.5 on bars.

Instead, praise her for working hard to get to that point.

Avoid praising her soley for getting her yurchenko on vault.

Instead, be sure to mention how proud you are of her for sticking with it and trying so hard until she got it.

You want to be crystal clear that it isn't just the result that is important. It's her effort.

In fact, you can take it one step farther by making sure your gymnast knows that you love her "win or lose." You don't need her to achieve any sort of goal to be loved. 

5. Share stories of your own personal failures

Whether you were a gymnast yourself or other athlete (or maybe not even an athlete at all), share your own stories of failures.

Emphasize your failure and how you lived through it and the valuable lessons you learned from it.

Our gymnasts love to hear stories about their parents going through trials.

It helps to connect them to us and to show them that we are human too.

 

Hope those tips help! Remember, the goal is to help your gymnast foster a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

 

-----

If you or your gymnast needs support, in addition to the resources below I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.

 

Gymnastics Mental Blocks Guidebook for Parents

 

Helpful Links:

 

 

Gymnastics Mental Coach Anna Kojac, M.Ed.

 

Related Posts

Letting Go Of What You Can't Control In Your Daughter's Gymnastics Journey
Letting Go Of What You Can't Control In Your Daughter's Gymnastics Journey
Are you a gymnastics parent who feels the need to control your gymnast's journey? If so, read this article to find out w
Read More
Your Gymnast Isn't Choosing Not To Do Her Blocked Skill
Your Gymnast Isn't Choosing Not To Do Her Blocked Skill
When you see your gymnast doing her skill one day and then unable to do it the next, it can elicit strong emotions and y
Read More
How To Trust Yourself In Gymnastics
How To Trust Yourself In Gymnastics
Learning how to trust yourself in gymnastics is an important skill to develop. Without it you won't have the ability to
Read More
Back to blog

Leave a comment