For Parents 5 Things Every Cheer Parent Needs To Know

JBS

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Ok... pretty simple concept here... let's generate some things to talk about. As a gymnastics coach and gymnastics parent... I really don't know enough about cheer.

What are 5 things that every cheer parent needs to know when they are starting out in cheer?​


Everyone can have a different 5... no worries... let's hear your ideas!

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Keep_Believing

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1- Do not let yourself live vicariously through your kid. It’s unhealthy and that kind of pressure burns kids out.
2- Enjoy Cheer, but keep balance. The "we live for Cheer" mentality isn't healthy and you never know when Cheer will end due to finances, mental blocks, your kid finds other interests, injury, etc.
3- Be prepared Cheer is expensive and the costs keep rising
4- Let go of the fly or die mentality. I have seen too many kids develop eating disorders and other struggles over this mentality. No matter how tiny your kid is now they will grow. It is hard for a 17-year-old to fly in all-star when they are competing against prepubescent 13-year-olds. It is possible, but the odds are not likely.
5- Enjoy it! Time flies by way too fast. I remember mine being on level 2 and being in such a rush for World teams. Now, I wish I would have enjoyed the present, instead of focusing on the future.
 
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Momager

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We came from gymnastics and had no foundation in cheer. CP started at level 5 (now 6) at a large program. Here's how I navigated a steep learning curve.
1. Set your head to the team mentality. Everything depends on your CP being all in, all the time. If you are late or missing from practice a whole stunt group suffers- they can't do it without the whole group present.
2. Meet the team parent coordinator and get some information early in your journey. They will help you understand what is expected of the people on your team. They will help you understand the costs and how much travel is involved, and the meaning of stay to play.
3. Befriend the parents who want to talk about things other than cheer. Those are the people most fun to travel with (and you will find the coaches socializing with that group as well).
4. Learn about other teams in your division from your CP. It's more fun to watch and it is a way you can really share in your child's journey.
5. Cherish the time. It goes really fast, especially when you start late.
 
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ct_dad

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I'm out of the all star parent game. I'm now a college cheer parent and I'm approaching it so much more differently. Some of these things I learned the hard way on.

1. Be the parent. Not the coach. You pay people a lot of money to coach your kid. Be the support they need, on good days and bad, without trying to correct their form, reviewing scores, how to improve. "You did great!" and "I'm so proud of you" should be regular phrases in your vocabulary.
2. Put the phone down. Seriously. 50 people from the same gym don't need to all record the performance. Just watch...and cheer loudly. Enjoy the experience. I wish I had done more of that rather than having my eye in the camera lens for so many years.
3. Be realistic with your expectations and those of your cheerleader. Not everyone makes it to Level 6. Not everyone makes *insert big name team here*. Understand that sometimes, Level 4 or even Level 3 is what is realistic, even if only at that moment. I'm not saying to not have dreams...just always be realistic.
4. Avoid the drama. The team drama, the team mom drama, the waiting room drama, the competition drama, the hotel drama, all of it. Avoid it like the plague. If someone is being negative, walk away...obvious caveat of sticking up for your own kid or yourself! At the end of it all, the drama just ruins a lot...the fun, the friendships, your cheerleaders experiences, etc. Its just not worth it.
5. Have a life outside of the gym. Friends inside those walls are great, especially when you've got to travel together, room together, eat, wait, etc together. It pays to have friends there. But remember, it will eventually end. Have a life and friends that don't involve that place or those people as well. Trust me...it's lonely on the outside when you the gym was your life as much as it was your kids.
 

Momager

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I'm out of the all star parent game. I'm now a college cheer parent and I'm approaching it so much more differently. Some of these things I learned the hard way on.

1. Be the parent. Not the coach. You pay people a lot of money to coach your kid. Be the support they need, on good days and bad, without trying to correct their form, reviewing scores, how to improve. "You did great!" and "I'm so proud of you" should be regular phrases in your vocabulary.
2. Put the phone down. Seriously. 50 people from the same gym don't need to all record the performance. Just watch...and cheer loudly. Enjoy the experience. I wish I had done more of that rather than having my eye in the camera lens for so many years.
3. Be realistic with your expectations and those of your cheerleader. Not everyone makes it to Level 6. Not everyone makes *insert big name team here*. Understand that sometimes, Level 4 or even Level 3 is what is realistic, even if only at that moment. I'm not saying to not have dreams...just always be realistic.
4. Avoid the drama. The team drama, the team mom drama, the waiting room drama, the competition drama, the hotel drama, all of it. Avoid it like the plague. If someone is being negative, walk away...obvious caveat of sticking up for your own kid or yourself! At the end of it all, the drama just ruins a lot...the fun, the friendships, your cheerleaders experiences, etc. Its just not worth it.
5. Have a life outside of the gym. Friends inside those walls are great, especially when you've got to travel together, room together, eat, wait, etc together. It pays to have friends there. But remember, it will eventually end. Have a life and friends that don't involve that place or those people as well. Trust me...it's lonely on the outside when you the gym was your life as much as it was your kids.
I made it through college cheer at 2 schools. I could go to NCA Nationals every year for the rest of my life even though my cp graduated! Best times of my cheer life was weeks in Daytona, no responsibility, not a hostage to the Mouse! Hahaha! Enjoy!
 
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NJ Coach

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I've been thinking about this. There are so many things, and I can't remember any of them lol

1. To go off what @ct_dad said, be the parent ALL the time. Support them, and be their cheerleader. But most importantly, don't let them hear you if you decide to talk about the coach. Kids feed off your energy. There have been numerous situations when I've heard kids tell coaches that their mom/dad said this, so now I'm going to say this too. It just creates a terrible atmosphere.
2. Everyone wants to win. However, I have always been a big believer in losing teaching more than winning ever will. Learning how to lose with grace and win with dignity is a tough lesson. Made worse when the talk of "this team cheated", "we were robbed", "they paid off the judges", or "they just don't like us" etc is all that's heard. Help the coaches teach your kids that sometimes, the other team just had it that day. If it's your coaches saying those things, maybe find a new gym.
3. Any coach worth their salt is not going to care who is doing the job, as long as the best person for the job is doing it. Don't (seriously) get hung up on position in routine. So many people get caught in the "my kid has always flown, and that's all she wants to do" black hole. There's no coming out of that. The best person for the job will get the job. Seniority means absolutely nothing when it comes to being competitive. In addition, the stress and pressure this places on the child is enormous. If they aren't in the air, or last pass, or center dancer that doesn't mean their position on the team is worth any less.
4. Don't let your kid be a gym rat. The vast majority of those kids burn out and quit. They should have other interests, other friends, other things going on. It's great when they're 12, they can't get enough of it. Then 14 hits and they're tired. They need to spend a healthy amount of time in the gym. Practice, team tumble, 1 private/week, maybe 1 open gym. Eventually it'll catch up to them. Not to mention the wear and tear on their bodies. Make them take a break.
5. Enjoy every single moment. There is a very short window of time when your kid is going to want to spend their time with you. Enjoy every single memory made on those weekends spent in a terrible convention center with even worse food. Don't worry about all the little things. You won't remember them when you look back. You're going to remember trying to figure out how to do your kid's hair and makeup. You'll remember having to get the pixie stix or dippin dots cause "tradition". You'll remember those inside jokes you have with other parents, that no one would ever understand or find funny unless they were there. You'll remember your kid coming to find you after a performance, good or bad, to find out how they did. The tears, the cheers, and everything in between. Enjoy it. It's over before you know it.
 

oncecoolcoachnowmom

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My only commentary on this:

1. Put your kid’s mental health first always. I Don’t be afraid to leave an environment that is bad for your child. People will stay in a place because they are winning, because their friends are there, etc. even if an environment is toxic or abusive. Don’t be that parent. Nothing your child wins will ever be worth it.

2. I coached high school but this is something that’s probably true for all star world: Cheer should not be your child’s entire life or identity. Make sure that he or she has an outlet outside of this sport.

3. More isn’t always better. Many times people come into cheerleading and think that in order for their child to be the best, they need to be in not only team practices, but two days a week of tumbling, privates, flight class, etc. To the point that they are in the gym every single day of the week. More gym time doesn’t always = more skills.

4. Be a parent and not an extra coach. They’ll appreciate it. Parents mean well and they see their child struggling with a skill, and think that being overly concerned about whether your child gets whatever skill is helpful. So they ask after a private or after practice “how’d it go?” “Did you throw it?“ or they are glued to the window in the practice viewing area and ready to give feedback. Sometimes your kid wants to get in the car and talk about something else after practice, not whether they threw their BHS today.

See also: If you see them make a mistake at a comp, it doesn’t need to be the first thing you talk about as soon as you see them afterwards. Especially if it’s a big deduction mistake. Like a stunt fall or AF in tumbling. They know. And they are probably are already beating themselves up. Try not talking about it at all and just telling them they did a great job. Or that you love watching them compete.
 
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NJ Coach

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See also: If you see them make a mistake at a comp, it doesn’t need to be the first thing you talk about as soon as you see them afterwards. Especially if it’s a big deduction mistake. Like a stunt fall or AF in tumbling. They know. And they are probably are already beating themselves up. Try not talking about it at all and just telling them they did a great job. Or that you love watching them compete.
I want to add to this because it's a great point. When a mistake is made, it's hard to change the channel in the brain. It's hard not to beat yourself up over it, or overanalyze it. They have already had the discussion with themselves, their group, their team, their coach. When they get to you, change the topic. Besides, with deductions these days, it's not worth much ;)
 

ct_dad

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I want to add to this because it's a great point. When a mistake is made, it's hard to change the channel in the brain. It's hard not to beat yourself up over it, or overanalyze it. They have already had the discussion with themselves, their group, their team, their coach. When they get to you, change the topic. Besides, with deductions these days, it's not worth much ;)
Let's just over emphasize this one. Really. Remember when the mistake happens, CP is going to think about it for the entire remainder of the routine, talk about it with the team/coach immediately after and sometimes have the video replay as soon as they're off the floor. Then they're going to hear about it in the group chat, twitter, hear the whispers from other parents, etc, etc. My kid would come off angry and crying...wouldn't even want a hug. Let them process it how they need...then go do something else that's NOT cheer. Food, ice cream, go karts, shopping, etc. or whatever they need to decompress. I never bring it up if she doesn't. And please...please, please, please, please...if they make a mistake don't make them practice the *whatever skill*. (see also...be the parent not the coach)
 
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ct_dad

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I made it through college cheer at 2 schools. I could go to NCA Nationals every year for the rest of my life even though my cp graduated! Best times of my cheer life was weeks in Daytona, no responsibility, not a hostage to the Mouse! Hahaha! Enjoy!
She's at a UCA school. But I loved how different it was from all-star trips to ESPN. So laid back. Also Florida in January was rather pleasant!
 
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oncecoolcoachnowmom

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I wanted to add one:

Focus on your child. It’s easy to walk into a tryout and focus on:

*comparing your kid to other athletes.
*viewing other kids as competition.
*even worse, policing other kids.

You know that person, the one who notices that other kids are late and can’t wait to bring it up, that another kid has their standing tuck and now they’re concerned about that kid making a team over their kid so now it’s all they can talk about on the car ride home, or see that another kid bailed on her tumbling at the game, and use that to make comparison to their own kid or speak negatively about that kid.

That behavior makes your kid hate cheer. It also causes drama.

Make your kid your focus. Not others people’s kids. Your kid, your coach, and other parents will thank you.
 

catlady

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1. There are extremely competitive gyms and there are gyms that will work around your social calendar. Don't expect gyms and coaches to change or bend rules to accommodate your child because, "you're paying good money."

2. Losing is okay and full of life lessons. No matter the reason for the loss, stress team, hard work, grace, and accountability.

3. Remind yourself often, "this is primarily a child's sport" and act appropriately as an adult.

4. Know your child and be okay with removing them from a coach/atmosphere that is effecting their mental health. On the same note, it's okay if another parent says their child is thriving with that coach or at that gym. Their opinion has no bearing on what is good/bad for your child.

5. Do what you can afford and find a gym that clearly sets the financial expectations. Always put your family's well being and finances before your child's sport. If in doubt, refer back to #3.
 

emo_wifey

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1. Every kid advanced at a different rate. Your kids may be super quick at getting tumbling, or super slow, like mine. Don't rub it in if your kids is fast and don't let it get to you if your kids is slow.
2. Prepare to turn down birthday party invitations, skip church every once in a while, and not always get to do what you want to do.
3. Cheer is expensive. You can do prep to keep costs lower, but even then this is not a cheap sport.
4. Avoid the parent room sometimes. (Reminding myself here.)
5. If your kid is having fun, learning life lessons, and happy, that is what's most important!
 
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1. No matter your child’s age always keep tabs on them at competitions. Unfortunately we have alot of creeps in this world and sadly a lot of times cheer competitions or any competition with kids, pre teens, and teens can be a breading ground for said creeps. To go along with this encourage your kids to walk around/ check out the competition area in groups or with a “buddy system.

2. Mental health comes before anything.

3. Do not be the parents that has your child’s pictures plastered all over social media. I have seen way too many young…very young girls/boys get very inappropriate comments from men and women old enough to be the childrens parents.

4. This one can go for parents, athletes, and coaches win with grace, and loss with grace. Be humble about your win, and also when you lose congratulate the winner.

5. Above all it’s just cheerleading enjoy it but also remember don’t make it your entire life.
 
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