The time has come for us to open up some healthy conversation about competition within physie. Zone competitions are in full swing and with Nationals fast approaching so are the highs and lows that come with it.
A Child’s Perspective
The first time I experienced disappointment in physie was when I was 9. I had worked hard all year and aimed to better my place at state finals. I placed 3rd…again. Of course, for my second year of physie this was fantastic! But in my 9 year old mind, I had failed. I knew I was to be a good sport and to congratulate the competition but my heart was hurting. I had worked hard all year. I had dreamed about winning and this meant the world to me. I loved my physie! Why didn’t that result in an improved result at competitions?
I lined up for a group photograph. The corners of my mouth were quivering and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I smiled as best I could. Then, I was held tight by the arm and I heard a voice whisper in my ear telling me how disappointing my behaviour was by an adult I not only looked up to but one I genuinely wanted to please. This was devastating. Now, not only had I failed but I had behaved poorly and, even worse, I couldn’t control it! I left feeling I was an awful person and never spoke of it to anyone.
I share this story not to put anyone down. I am only recalling what I know went on in my mind. Perhaps I was being a brat! Perhaps I appeared rude to the winner when I wasn’t ecstatic for her! I was experiencing disappointment in competition for the first time and didn’t know how to handle it.
As much as we want our children and students to behave a certain way it is important to acknowledge that, for many, physie is the training ground for how to deal with disappointment. Their differences in personality and temperament, their world view and the passion they have for the sport will all contribute to how they deal with competition. The responses will be as unique and varied as the girls competing. For example, a student who comes to classes for fun and fitness may find it easier to bounce back from a disappointment than a girl who was came to all her classes, practised at home and visualised her goals! When you invest much into something it matters to you, right? What we can do is ask “how can I support this child as she experiences disappointment?”
In the lead up to a competition, take some time to chat with your child. Find out what their hopes are. Get to know how they are feeling about their upcoming event. Communicate how proud you are of your child regardless of results. Be specific. Has she been committed to class attendance? Has she been disciplined in practising at home? Has she been supportive and encouraging to her club mates? Remind her of all she has achieved.
At the beginning of the year be sure you set your goals. Include goals that don’t relate to competition results. At the end of the competition season be sure to revisit your list. Did you achieve the splits? Remember all your routines? Improve your technique? Celebrate your success! If you find it hard to find something to celebrate, spend some time really setting yourself up for success in the new year. See our post about goal setting to get you started!
Performance vs Results
Help your child recognise how to assess her performance a part from results. In a competition where the other competitors are strong, incredibly talented physie girls may not take a place purely because the standard is so high. Be sure she understands that being able to assess her performance separate from results is important to improving her skills and celebrating her achievements and success.
Consider bringing a notebook along to a competition where your daughter can be a spectator. Have her watch and write down her favourite physie girls as she would place them. She will quickly see how results are subjective. She will also recognise that a great physie girl can sometimes just have an “off” day.
Many accredited child psychologists provide free information online these days. With a little research you can access professional advice to equip you with the tools you need to support your child in competition. Local community organisations often run parenting courses and workshops to provide you with these skills.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Let’s all support one another in ensuring our children are encouraged and supported in this wonderful sport!