It’s no wonder why dance is considered one of the best extracurricular activities for children. It allows them to express themselves creatively, learn a craft, and get exercise. If your child is younger, you know what joy the activity can bring a young dancer.
But what do you do when your child’s motivation drops?
You might find yourself asking — what do I do? They used to enjoy it so much. Should I pull them out of dance?
These are all reasonable questions. No one wants to be the tyrannical dance-mom who forces their kid into dance.
Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about turning into Momma rose. There are many times when children don’t feel motivated and aren’t sure how to get their way around it. Before you pull your child out of dance entirely, try some tactics to motivate them, and get them loving dance again.
This article will walk you through five of those tactics.
1. Make Sure They’re In the Right Class
For a beginner dancer, placement is everything. Let’s take a look at an example:
Say your child has an interest in old broadway music and wants to take a jazz dance class. You sign your child up for a jazz class, and your child enjoys it to a great degree.
Then, the next semester, you find that your child’s schedule doesn’t work with jazz class. You sign your child up for a tap class that’s available that they can take — jazz and tap are similar enough, right? They’re both used in musicals.
Your child is excited to try something new and enjoys the class at first. But a few weeks into classes, you notice that they’re reluctant to go to class and complain about having to go.
What do you do?
It’s important to remember that children have a harder time understanding and expressing their own thoughts. Perhaps they were excited to try tap in the beginning, but it isn’t satisfying them as much as jazz did. They don’t fully realize this, so they complain about dance in general, and you think they suddenly hate dance.
If this happens to you, try to make sure your child gets into a dance class that they love. Look at other dance schools near you, or work with the dance school to come up with an arrangement.
Sometimes, a dance school will let your child take a class with a younger age group, and assign your child slightly harder things to be more up-to-snuff with their age. This is a great substitute for the full-on class that they’re not able to take due to their schedule.
Another great negotiating could be trying to negotiate to test into a more advanced class with the understanding that the teacher would go easy on your child if they got in.
2. Know How to Praise
You might be worried about praising your child too much. Too much praise can make a child spoiled and entitled. However, in the case of something that someone works hard at, praise actually makes them work harder, and enjoy it more.
If your child is working hard at the dance, it most likely won’t spoil them to let them know that they’re doing well.
When praising your child dancer, make sure you don’t compare them to other dancers their age — even if you’re saying that your child is better. This will instill a deleterious sense of competition, and breed insecurity with them.
Perhaps your child will develop a complex where they feel they need to constantly prove they’re better than this other child — that’s not what you want.
Play Their Strengths
You may want your child dancer to be versatile, but it’s important to remember that they’re still in their early stages. Don’t force them into a hip-hop class if they’re not quite into hip-hop dancing yet.
Praise your child for what they do well, don’t make them wish they had other skills. If they’re a great tap dancer but not so good at ballet — compare them to Gene Kelly. By nurturing their mastery of one style, they’ll come to other styles on their own.
You can also buy them premium dance attire as a reward.
3. Don’t Punish
We’re not advocating a laissez-faire hippy parenting style where children are never punished for what they do wrong. However, if your child doesn’t want to do dance, they shouldn’t be punished for this. They’re simply listening to their emotions and advocating for themselves.
If your child just started dancing, remember, they’re only a baby dancer. They haven’t completely found their footing yet. Taking away their toys won’t do them any good when they haven’t completely learned how to appreciate said toys.
4. Know When to Give Up
Unfortunately, there comes a point where your child wants what they want. Yes, it’s true that often your child will say they want one thing when they really want another. But if they’ve been complaining for months — or even years — that they want to stop the dance, it might be time to give it up.
A young adult dancer who’s been dancing for most of their life will want to explore new avenues of expression; you should let them. This doesn’t mean they’ll leave the dance. In fact, it could even mean they come back to dance more passionate than ever.
Giving up doesn’t mean pulling your child out of dance the first time they frown about going to class. It means putting your child’s happiness first. Talk to your child, and make sure you understand what’s best for them.
Motivate Your Young Dancer
Dancing is a wonderful activity for any young person to do. However, there comes a time when your child just might not want to dance anymore.
Sometimes, when your young dancer doesn’t want to go to class, it could mean that they need a little more motivation. Make sure that they’re in the right class, know how to praise them right, and do not punish them if this is the case.
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