Not So Obvious Ways to Support Your Dancer
As a parent, it’s natural to want your child to succeed in every activity they undertake. Dance is no exception. Of course, we sign them up for classes, we make certain they have and wear proper attire, we shuttle them to and from classes. While those are all essential to getting them to dance class, they’re not so much about supporting them once there.
So what does it look like to truly support your dancer? Following are six important ways you can help your child succeed both in dance and well beyond the studio walls.
#1 Keep it fun. Dancing should be an activity your child looks forward to. It’s normal for a child to not be in the mood for it on occasion, but if your child isn’t enjoying dance over a period of time, ask them why. It may be they don’t know other children in their classes or perhaps they’re more interested in a different type of dance. Once you understand the reason, you can address it to make dancing fun once again.
#2 Encourage, don’t pressure. Dance is not about outshining others; it’s about letting your own light shine. Let your dancer establish their own goals, and encourage them not to compare themselves to other dancers. Remind them that the only person they should try to be better than is the person they were yesterday.
#3 Model. Sometimes it’s hard for parents to remember that their children’s activities are their children’s activities and not their own. Look at number 2 again and be sure to practice what you preach. Treat other parents and studio workers with respect and seek opportunities to recognize excellence in others.
#4 Let your child take charge. As your child grows older, be sure to turn more of the dance responsibilities over to them. That means letting them get ready for dance by themselves, packing their shoes on their own and doing their own hair. One of the great things about dance is its ability to promote positive qualities in kids, a process that most certainly begins at home.
#5 Trust the teachers. Teachers make decisions based on myriad factors, including skills readiness, safety and individual dancers’ learning pace. Trust them to know and do what’s best for all the dancers in the room. That frees you to focus on your most important role: being the parent.
#6 Use six magical words. Chances are pretty good your dancer isn’t looking for a critique or review—good or bad—from you after dancing. They’ll get that elsewhere. Instead, try saying: “I love to watch you dance.” In those words, there’s no pressure, no judgment but there is unconditional love and acceptance. Plus, as any dance parent knows, it’s the truth, pure and simple.