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For Parents: How To Be "Non Pushy"

I recently had a parent reach out to me about how to encourage their child without being pushy. Here’s what they sent (slightly edited & modified to ensure anonymity)

“My current fear is that she's not getting better at her [insert skill]. It seems she's not gaining the confidence, all the while other kids in her group are advancing. She won't show me what she's learned from her practices either, so I don't know where her progress lies. Is there anything I can do to encourage her without being a “pushy” type of parent?”

As there are quite a few things to un-pack here, I turned my actual response into a quick bullet-point list:

  • If she's training consistently, then she’s definitely getting better. But it may not be at the rate or pace you expect.

  • Every child learns tumbling at their own pace and over the last 15 years I've found that if you try and increase their natural rate of progress, you'll either give them anxiety / mental blocks, make them quit, or end up with bad technique which leads to injury. As long as she's working towards it, that's all that matters.

  • Confidence will come if she trains with increased volume and smoother progressions. If she isn't working this skill at least 3-4x per week, confidence will simply take

  • LONGER to come, especially since she's fallen before. Falling happens in tumbling, the same way every soccer player, at some point in their sport, will eat a fast moving ball to the face. She needs to learn to fail safely and realize it's simply feedback.

  • Instead of asking her to "show you" -- ask her the following questions: i) Did you enjoy your class/practice/private lesson today? ii) What's one thing you're proud of from your training? (feel free to give her time to think, but don't let her off the hook from answering)

  • These questions are much better than asking her to 'show you'. Truth is, she may never want to show you until it's perfect. This might take some time.

  • Do not worry about others in her group advancing. Comparison is not only bad in most sports, it's the worst in tumbling. If you find her comparing herself to others, shut it down quickly and immediately. Obviously this shouldn’t be done in negative tone. But the point is that it's simply not productive.

  • If you find yourself comparing her to her peers, it means you are attached to her outcome without knowing it. Unfortunately, this gives birth to hope ("i hope she gets it soon")

  • We (coaches & parents) cannot be attached to her outcome. All we can do, is help guide her and support her. The rest is all up to her.

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