Here’s the dilemma: your little one loves practising handstands and cartwheels, but seems unsure about taking their talent to the next level. What can you do help your child overcome their worries and encourage them to test out some new acrobatic skills?

Maybe your child was inspired by the gymnasts at during the last Olympic Games. Or perhaps they’ve always just loved being active. However they got started, it’s normal to want to encourage a child once you’ve spotted their natural ability.

Gymnastics, whether for fun or performed at the highest level, has a number of impressive health benefits for people of all ages, including:

  • Improved flexibility and great bodily control, which can help prevent accidental injuries.
  • Strong, healthy bones, which can be built at a young age through weight-bearing activities. Developing strong bones while you’re young can cut your chances of getting osteoporosis later on in life.
  • Improved concentration – it’s not just about the physical workout; gymnastics can improve mental focus and functioning too.
  • Improved coordination – gymnasts are conditioned to correct their body’s alignment, making them better equipped to deal with imbalances.

Of course, the key to helping your child progress and develop lies in building their self-confidence. So how do you do this without coming across as a “pushy parent”?

How to build confidence

gymnasticsWe asked Gemma Coles, a gymnastics club owner and author of the ‘Head Over Heels About Gymnastics’ series, to share her tips for building children’s confidence as they learn new skills.

Gemma’s Top Tips for Building Children’s Confidence

  • Encourage your children by pointing out what they are doing well. When they need advice about improving, sandwich it with positives. Eg. What a fast roll – you need to stand up without using your hands – you are really amazing!
  • Have a ‘you can’ attitude. Children often initially say that they can’t do things when they first try them. Respond with positive comments about just having a go and not being perfect straight away.
  • Have a go too, let them see that you find things tricky but are happy to persevere.
  • Video your children and point out all the things you thought were great.
  • Encourage them to create small routines to show a grandparent or friend.

In addition, the latest addition to the Head Over Heels collection is Gemma’s first fictional book, Bendy Wendy and Jumping Jack Join Gymnastics. This book is all about building confidence to try something new thing and it encourages children to get involved at various points through the story. It’s available to purchase from Amazon or from www.headoverheelsgymnastics.co.uk for £4.99.

Safety Tips

Worried about keeping your little one safe while they practise their new gymnastic skills at home? Gemma has shared some top advice with us:

Gemma’s Top 5 Gymnast Safety Tips

  • Make sure the area you are practicing in is free from clutter that your child could injure themselves on.
  • Warm up and cool down.
  • Ensure siblings and friends don’t stand near or walk by anyone performing gymnastics.
  • Keep it simple and don’t practice skills that are meant to be performed in a gymnasium. You can find safe shapes and routines in my child-friendly books [link].
  • Follow the progressions steadily, don’t go let your child jump straight to the hardest skills.