Dance Moms – Where to Begin…

Where do I start about dance moms, and no I do not mean the TV show.  Anyone who is a dance instructor knows all about the types of mothers and/ or fathers that are over barring and think their kids are the next Sylvie Guillem or Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Don’t get me wrong, I think parents should be supportive and take an interest in their children’s hobbies, but when you come into my classroom and are yelling at your five year old to pay attention, it is neither productive or helpful.  There are two types of parents, “parents who want their kids to be a dancer,” I’ll call these parents “forceful parents” and “helicopter parents.”  These parents may sound like their the same, but personally I think the helicopter parent is worse.

First you have the “forceful parents.”  These parents makes their kid take dance class even though they do not want to be there.  For example, lets say you have a daughter named Lucy.  Every time she steps into ballet class she cries, or she sits in the corner and pouts until it’s time to go home.  Not only does this disrupt the class, but Lucy is not having fun because she doesn’t want to be there.  Now you may wonder why I call these parents “forceful parents.”  Anytime I have a conversation with these types of parents they always tell me how they wished they were in dance classes when they were little or as an adolescent and they want to be able to give their child that experience.  Newsflash – Your kid hates it and doesn’t want to be there.  Lucy would rather be in soccer.  Want to know how I know that?  Because I asked her.

Second you have the ‘helicopter parents.”  Helicopter parents are those parents that are trying to give their kid an edge in someway.  Whether it is becoming buddy buddy with the dance studio owner or the instructor so your kid gets a good part or taking the blame when your kid forgets something of vital importance for a competition and you expect another kid to give up theirs because their child has a bigger part in the dance piece.  Dear helicopter parents, your kids are going to become the most dependent babies and/ or continue to make stupid mistakes their entire lives because you have never let them fall flat on their face.  Without failure their is no learning process.

My parents were supportive people in any thing we did.  They had three very different children, one that was into music, one that was obsessed with baseball, and me – the type A personality that had to have control of everything all the time dance fanatic.  While we were growing up, my parents were firm believers that kids needed to learn to fight their own battles at an early age, which is why when something was unfair at an activity we were involved with they stayed out of it and let us handle it in our own way.  My parents were also the type of people to ask us if we were still interested in an activity at a young age.  We were never allowed to quit something in the middle of a season or year, we always had to finish the activity out.  Your children are smarter than you think.  Let them be involved in the decision on whether or not they want to be in dance class and don’t be so involved that they never fail at that activity, your children need to learn and grow, and the only way to do that is with failure.  As the saying goes if you have never failed than you have never succeeded.

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