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Behavior quirks in a very competitive 11-year-old
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Behavior quirks in a very competitive 11-year-old

SITUATION POINTS:

We have a very competitive 11-year-old gymnast who trains 30 hours/week, 6 days a week. With our 2 hour round-trip commute to the gym, this is a 42 hr/week commitment.

Given the training, we home-school.

We consider ourselves very balanced, loving parents and give our little gymnast plenty of slack. We have another child, 17, who has turned out fine, even through the difficult teen years. No stress, no issues, good focus and habits, polite, etc... Our gymnast is sweet and has a good heart, but is extremely difficult to manage sometimes. And perhaps partly due to the psychological make-up of being a competitive sports child, our gymnast tends to be self-centered and very self-confident.

THE ISSUES:

Our gymnast can never be wrong, and always blames someone else. If we have to install penalties for behavior issues, it's because we didn't do something or we changed something, etc...

Our gymnast won't ever "finish" anything at home. Literally the last mouthful of milk, juice or water will be left in cups. The last bite of sandwich will be left on the plate. The washed clothes will be taken into the room, but not put away. The homework will be done but papers will not be collected and scraps will be left around.

THE QUESTIONS:

We cannot get our gymnast to clean up or finish things completely at home. And with the "blame someone else" issue, when we institute penalties for not cleaning up or finishing something, the blame will be shifted and our gymnast will "hate" us for executing on our penalties.

We are wondering ---- with such an intense competitive situation outside, could this "not finish things up" phenomenon be somehow psychologically related competitiveness? Should we maybe back off and just let these "unfinished tasks" continue to occur? Any ideas for other ways to try to fix the self-centered-ness and blame-others attitudes?

We certainly don't want to damage our child nor do we want to impact our child's ability to perform in the gym. Our gymnast is on-track to be a very very good gymnast, probably ultimately in the top 150 or top 100 in the country eventually. Further than that is impossible to predict.

Thank you for any helpful feedback!
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9 Comments Post a Comment
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13167_tn?1327197724
vcinsd,  my guess is she's a lot like other little girls in full-time competitive sports.  The successful ones do seem to have an "I'm better than you" attitude,  and that's why they thrive on showing they are in fact,  better than you in competition.  Other kids don't care that much to prove point wise they are better than everyone else,  they choose to enjoy life and not go through the rigors and pain of proving their superiority.

I think it's more typical than not to leave a little crust of sandwich,  a little bit of milk or juice . . .  My guess is more people do that than don't.  

I would give her a lot of slack about finishing things in the house - she's already working harder than an 11 year old should be working.

BTW,  did you notice how many times you called your "your gymnast" vs. "your child"?


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535822_tn?1417529476
Her behavior sounds like your post , perhaps she is copying the way you are towards her. Do unfinished tasks really matter that much...to answer your own question, yes back off!
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Thanks for the replies!

Sorry, but I made a conscious effort to "neutralize" my post due to the publicly accessible nature of this forum. You never know with Internet posts... I edited it to be neutral and not even state if our "gymnast" was a boy or girl...

Along that line, might I ask if either reply is from a professional psychologist or trained specialist? Or possibly be based on firsthand experience with a situation such as we have? Previously we could not have been empathetic with parents of extremely gifted or successful young children because firsthand experience certainly makes a difference. I'm sure all situations are unique and inputs are always helpful.

Any comments on the "blame others" characteristic? Any hypotheses or experiences that tie-in with highly competitive children?

Thanks.

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13167_tn?1327197724
Speaking for myself,  I'm not a professional psychologist.    I have some experience in sociology/psychology and teaching parenting classes,  but that's not really an issue here.

I do have a very dear friend who has a gymnast daughter who was actually olympics bound - when she took a very hard fall of the balance beam and couldn't get over the fear that it would happen again.  She sounds a lot like your son/daughter.   I also have a friend who has two daughters who are full-time equestrian competitors - they are in special off-site schooling so they can practice all day.  Same general personality as your child.  

In my observation,  children who are willing to dedicate their lives to a competitive pursuit at a young age are really dedicated to their craft but also to making sure they are viewed in the highest possible light,  which includes not always being humble enough to take responsibility for misbehaviors/shortcomings.


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