So you’ve come along for your first dance class… They’ve been talking about it for weeks… Dancing to every song that comes on… And then suddenly when they get to class they freeze and decide they don’t want to join in and do it. Now as a parent you probably think “what is going on? They love dancing!” You probably also think “I’m not paying money for a class they won’t participate in” (all very valid thoughts!)
But can I just say first of all, that this is completely normal and to be expected… I want you to put yourself in the mindset of a 3-year-old child right now. You have walked in… It is a new environment, you are not really sure of how to do everything yet, you feel a bit shy and nervous, there are lots of other kids around you who you don’t know yet, there is a big, tall adult in your presence who is not your parent and lastly, you have come to realisation that mummy is not there with you. Where is she?!
Now let me just say, that these are all normal things for a child to feel and although you as the parent, want to avoid putting your child into a situation where they feel uncomfortable or nervous, it is something that is ultimately going to be a benefit to your child and is worth persevering with. Your child, in the long run, is going to gain confidence that allows them to run into class by themselves without a tear but rather a smile. Your child is going to build beautiful new friendships that last forever and they are going to share magical moments in class with them and their teacher. They are going to gain physical skills of coordination, balance, endurance and overall fitness. They are going to become a confident person that has a high self-esteem and a positive self-worth. They are going to have a role-model that that they can share their stories and also worries with. And lastly, they are going to learn that it is okay to be without mum and to achieve things without mum. They are going to learn that mum will be there when they finish class and that mum will be proud of everything they have learnt. They will learn independence and hard work – a skill that will see them become a valuable member of the adult community.
So when they don’t join in at first, understand and emphasise with their worries, but also understand that perseverance is key and is the stepping stone to them gaining confidence. Walking away on the first lesson when they don’t join in, diminishes the teacher’s opportunity to helping your child gain confidence. It also tells the dancer, that there is something to worry about otherwise mum wouldn’t have left too.
Our teachers are trained and have a lot of experience and tactics in helping children who have trouble separating or are very anxious. Yes, sometimes a child may need a bit more time or a break before they start dancing, in order for the lessons to be effective. However, generally with help from both the parent and the teacher, your child will start to make progress in their confidence, after a few weeks. It may be that the teacher asks you to be in the room for some time, before the child has enough confidence to be without a parent. It may be that the teacher gently encourages them and asks you to the same. Every child and their personality is different and our teachers are trained in recognising the different personalities and how they respond and need to be comforted. I can say from experience though, that I have had many children that have struggled to be away from their parent and in the end, they have become some of the most confident and bubbly children I know. All it takes is a little perseverance and working together with the teacher to help your child feel confident. Our aim is the same.