“I don’t like dance anymore.”
“Dance class is boring, mommy.”
“I want to do gymnastics/soccer/water polo like my friend ______.”
We’ve all heard these lines before. Even more so, we’ve all have been on the receiving end of the embarrassing but but common crying fits at the classroom door right before class begins.
Your child “can’t find” their dance shoes (or music books for those music class parents) or you just can’t get them to practice at home without resorting to bribery.
Why is this happening? you ask yourself: the weekly battle over “itchy” tights, or all that hard work you did to achieve the perfect ballerina bun just to see it get destroyed before you even get out of the car. Is it worth the fight?
Be of good cheer, parents; we are here to ease your mind!
1. It’s normal!
You might be tempted to compare your child to the “perfect” student that comes to class every week with anticipation and excitement, but let me reiterate that every child will go through this. Whether at three or thirteen years old, it’s going to happen!
2. It’s only a phase
Our own oldest studio mascot, Taryn, went through two different instances in 3 years of dancing. The first was just after turning three, and was a common case of separation anxiety. The second was more of a power struggle. Both phases only lasted about six weeks but felt like an eternity! Take heart: this too shall pass!
3. We are here to help
Remember that you are not alone and we’ve got your back. Our staff as Starlight Studios wants more than anything to have your child join in on our classes. We want them to be excited, and we don’t want you to feel stressed about your situation.
So here are some tips that we have set aside for you from our past experience that will help you get through this phase:
It’s simple, but it works. When you stress, we take shallow breaths, our muscles tense up, and your child feels your stress, leading to anxiety and uncertainty before class.
- Be encouraging
Show your child how much you care, and affirm them, whether or not they enter the classroom. Many times a student will resist class because they’re challenged and are afraid of failing. Your encouragement (without bartering!) will lead to more confident children that are willing to go to class, and maybe even practice at home!
- Get involved
At Starlight, we love when our parent are involved! We know our students perform best when their parents are well-informed about their activities. This doesn’t mean being a “helicopter” and taking away their independence. We just ask for parents to take the time to learn with their kids, practice at home along with them, and cheer them on during observation weeks and performances. If the activity is important to you, it will be important to them.
- Be consistent
To reduce stress and rushing, come to class 5-10 minutes before it starts. Avoid missing class unless they’re sick. Skipping just one class disrupts the weekly routine; for older students, they’ll miss needed instruction and possibly fall behind leading to discouragement. Make sure dance clothes are set out ahead of time. Allot specific time for practicing at home just like homework.
- Be persistent
Always remember that we the parents are in charge and our children don’t run things. No matter their age, our children will challenge us, defy us, and attempt to ignore us, but we still have the power. When a child says they don’t want to practice or go to class, remember that you make the ultimate decision and that the child actually needs you to take charge.
We are training them for the real world. If all adults quit their jobs every time they felt like they didn’t want to go to work, nothing would get done. What are we doing to our child’s view on commitment and determination if we let them quit at their first whim of boredom or challenge? Tough love is not a fun place to be as a parent, but it will do our children a world of good for them as they get older.
- Ask our staff for help
Whether a student is afraid or defiant, we want to help! You know your child best and we want your insight. If you need us to hold your child’s hand through the entirety of class or if you just want us to let your child sit on the side and watch, we will do our very best to make your class experience what you and your child need it to be.
We know that every day is a learning experience for our students, and we know sometimes learning isn’t easy. But At Starlight Studios, building good people is just as important as building good dancers and musicians.
What’s your experience with a child that doesn’t want to go to class? What did you do?
Is this you and your child right now? What’s your plan this week to help them get back on track?