Thursday, January 15, 2009

Well, I Handled That Well.

Davan got anxious about gymnastics when it was time to get ready today, to the point of tears. I tried to work with her to pinpoint what she was anxious about because she doesn't usually get anxious like that about gymnastics. She couldn't figure out why.

So, I switched gears to just trying to get her to change her self talk. Rather than, "I'm so worried about going to gymnastics!" think, "I like gymnastics. I love doing the skills. I'm glad that I get to go today."

Through all this, she was sniffling. After a while, I did what any sensible grown up would do and yelled at her to, "At least try, damn it!"

Contrary to what you might be thinking, this didn't actually help the situation at all. Davan started crying in earnest and told me, "That is only going to make it harder, Mom!" which is nothing but the truth. Sigh.

We get on the tandem to go, with her still semi-crying, get out of the drive way and I realize that she hadn't given me something important that I needed while she was away. I asked her where is was and she didn't know, so I came back so we could find it. Screaming crying ensued. Not pretty.

We found the item and made it to gymnastics on time, contrary to Davan's firm belief that she was going to be late and then, I can only assume from the strength of the fear, be flayed alive.

Once she was to the gym on time, she was fine. Me? I was a little pissed off about the whole thing still. Although, I only yelled the once, I know I was testy and probably not very comforting about the whole thing. Chalk that up to one step back on learning to deal with the whole anxiety issue.

After all of this and what with the great mood I was in, I opted to have a little heart to heart with Davan's coach. Seemed like the perfect time to me. Davan had told me that there was some group punishment going on, complete with examples.

Now, group punishment is something I'm pretty much totally against. In this case, I'm really against it. Davan doesn't have a lot of sway with the girls on the team, so her choosing to follow directions doesn't make them do it, either. Her having to suffer along with them doesn't make them feel badly about their choices. If she were to speak up and tell them to clean up their act, she would only be vilified. There is nothing she can do to avoid the group punishment. This doesn't help her anxiety levels at all. So, I talked to her coach about it.

She was very nice and pretty understanding, but what she told me made me think that, even if gymnastics is the sport for Davan, which is doubtful because it's so high pressure, that she needs to change gyms. You see, it is the policy of the gym that the girls are a team and they need to be taught to act as a team. You do this through group punishment, you see. After all, one score can effect the whole team. One person's attitude can effect the whole team. They really drill this into the girls.

If Davan has been having it drilled into her that her one score can sink the whole team, I'm not at all surprised that she is a nervous wreck about meets.

Her coach went on to tell me that gymnastics is a tough sport and it only gets tougher, so maybe she and coach #2 can help Davan get ready for that. Davan, I was told, has a lot of potential, but she'll need to toughen up because that's what it takes to make it in gymnastics.

All this from a person I actually really like. It's too bad that these are the thoughts about conquering difficult things and team building that are prevalent out there. I wish I'd been able to think of some counter points on the spot. Like maybe, "Punishing the whole team for a few people's infractions will more likely make people unhappy with their team mates, rather than glad to be on the same team."

How about, "Physical toughness is one thing and Davan has that in spades. I know that there is an aspect of mental toughness that should be cultivated along with that. I see you guys forming that with lengthy hold the position type drills and Davan holds up the best with those, as far as I can see, showing that she's pretty tough when it matters. I don't think group punishment cultivates the right sort of toughness. If they were all rooming together, it's more likely to cultivate soap in a pillowcase sorts of attacks."

But, no. I just said that I understood that they couldn't change their whole policy for one child and that I understood that they were trying to build the team. I thanked her for talking to me and walked away, much dissatisfied. I think that's a lot better, don't you?

As is usually the case, though, Davan was fine post practice and even said that she was kind of looking forward to the meet to see if she's improved from the last one already. That's a good attitude to hold onto!

1 comment:

  1. I've pitched a fit over group punishment/reward before.

    I always say it's like coming to my house and arresting me because my neighbor robbed a bank.

    And wtf is up with the whole 'say no to peer pressure' thing "they" teach? Isn't group punishment sort of the opposite thing?

    Gah. People are so stupid.