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Mental Health Lessons You Learn In Gymnastics

As a parent, when you think about enrolling your child in gymnastics, which benefits do you envision? You probably see it as a positive and engaging activity or focus on the numerous physical benefits participating in gymnastics could have on your young one.

As a parent, when you think about enrolling your child in gymnastics, which benefits do you envision? You probably see it as a positive and engaging activity or focus on the numerous physical benefits participating in gymnastics could have on your young one.

Through regular exercise, they improve their bone health, build their core strength, boost their coordination and enhance their flexibility. And if your child enjoys and is good at gymnastics, a future as a competitive athlete is even feasible.

But did you know that participating in gymnastics is also great for your child’s mental health? The mental health lessons learned through gymnastics go beyond the gymnasium and the mat — they can be applied and be useful all through your life.

Today, one in six children suffers mental health problems. And the past decade has seen increased mental health issues in young adults. So although they may not experience mental health issues as children, they may be affected in adulthood.

Let’s look at 5 mental health lessons your child can learn for their future self from participating in gymnastics even if they don’t go on to compete after childhood.

1. Overcoming fear: It’s just new to me, not impossible
Gymnastics is all about learning and trying out new skills and techniques. Gymnasts learn from an early age that life is all about trying, failing, and trying again until you can do it right. Gymnastics training helps teach children how to overcome the fear of not only falling when they don't get an action right but also the fear of failing at doing things. This prepares them mentally from a young age to address and overcome their fears.
Participating in gymnastics sets the foundation that when it comes to new things, they may fail but that should not keep them from trying out new things. What’s life if not a series of new things and new experiences?

2. Building self-esteem: I know my worth and what I am capable of
Imagine how you might feel after learning and mastering an awe-inspiring somersault. This confidence boost is the same that your child would experience as a gymnast. The positive environment created by trainers and encouragement through every trial and failure until mastery helps increase self-esteem.
With every new skill or technique learned comes confidence in their ability and self. This nourishment of self-esteem at an early age creates positive self-worth that only grows as they get older. Various researches conducted have affirmed that adults who participated in sports and gymnastics during their early childhood tend to have a higher level of self-esteem.

3. Solving problems: There’s a solution; I just need to take time and find it
From the onset, gymnastics challenges children to think outside the box. Whether it’s mastering new techniques or nailing routines and landings. Their young minds are encouraged to find solutions that work for them when it comes to challenges from a young age.
Every rehearsal is an opportunity for your child to engage in problem-solving until they refine their techniques and routines. This problem-solving skill will come in handy even as they grow older and life comes with more challenges. Rest assured, they’ll be more than capable of finding solutions.

4. Teamwork: It’s okay to ask for help from others
Gymnastics is a collaborative sport. Your child will often need to work within a team to accomplish routines. They will have first-hand experiences on what it means to have to ask for help, rely on support, and trust the team effort to translate to success.
The need to work with other children will facilitate bonding and develop their social skills. This socialization from a young age helps them learn that there’s no shame in asking for help or relying on others when you are not at your best.

5. Mental Discipline: I know what is expected of me and I will do it
Committing to attending gymnastics training dictated by the schedule is no small feat, especially for children. Gymnastics training instills self-discipline in children both physically and mentally. Watching, listening, and following instructions to perfect routines instills the need for mental discipline to succeed.
And through gymnastics training, your child will learn the importance of self-motivation to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. The frustrations, failures, and even discomfort during their training will help your child build the mental fortitude to press on. This mental discipline can translate to making informed decisions and diligence in life as adults.
Good mental health is described as the ability at least to manage change, maintain good relations with others, feel both positive and negative emotions, express and manage them, and learn. Based on our discussion of the 5 mental health lessons your child can learn from gymnastics training, it's clear all these minimum requirements are met.

We hope you now view gymnastics as more than just a positive pass-time activity. Yes, your children’s involvement in gymnastics may set the tone for them to choose positive pass time activities instead of negative ones such as drugs and substance abuse as adults. But the benefits are far more than just being a pass-time activity.

A healthy, active body fosters a healthy mind, even in our children. Therefore, even when your children choose not to compete in gymnastics after their childhood, you can remind them as young adults of the positive effects of gymnastics on both their physical and mental health.

Andrea Poteet-Bell is a journalist and editor for Sunshine Behavioral Health. Her writing has appeared in local daily newspapers, alternative weeklies, and websites across the country. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in print journalism and lives in Michigan with her husband and their dog, Charlie Brown.

Sources
researchgate.net - Effects of gymnastics training on_physical function in children
mentalhealth.org.uk - Children and young people
sciencedaily.com/ - Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade
thesportjournal.org - Effects of early sport participation on self-esteem and happiness

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