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From My Inbox:
How supportive do you think parents should be of fellow dancers? We have a situation at our studio in which one dancer’s Mother never compliments or praises the group of dancers her daughter dances with – not for solos, groups, etc. All of the dancers have solos; depending on the day, several switch spots as to how they place. In other words, the same one doesn’t always score the highest. As well as the other Moms, as part of naturally wanting to promote team spirit, try to build the girls up, congratulate them, comment on how they did, etc. This particular parent offers nothing, and it is awkward. What would you do? It makes it feel more like the girls are competitors of one another rather than teammates. The dancers range in age from 10 – 12. We’ve just come home from Nationals; unfortunately, it was more of the same.
This is a tough one. First of all, I absolutely believe that parents should be supportive of fellow dancers. That means complimenting them when I can on things such as their costume, a performance if I hear they nailed something they’ve been working on for a while, and a placement or scholarship at a competition/convention. Sometimes, those compliments are made directly (if the opportunity provides itself) and sometimes, they are made through social media. I believe that complimenting other teammates is important to feed the confidence and pride of the dancer, but also for my own dancer to hear and see me easily complimenting her fellow dancers. I want her to look at her teammates and see the strength of her team, not the strength of her competition if that makes sense. I do think, though, it is also equally important to compliment not just the top performing dancers but all the dancers. If you ever compliment a dancer that is not expecting it, watch their reaction – see the light in their face because you noticed them when everyone else is noticing the top 3 dancers that placed you noticed them. In one of my daughter’s jazz dances this year, one of her friends was the point in a triangle at the beginning of that dance – this is a girl that didn’t have a solo. Her sass and expression at the beginning of that dance made me smile every time – I loved seeing her in that. And I told her and her Mom, more than once, how much I enjoyed watching her because I did, and I wanted her to know that.
Having said all of that, just like the dancers, parents all have different personalities. One of my favorite parents at our studio is loud, a former cheerleader, and boy, does she light up a room when she walks in. She also can light up a dancer’s confidence in a heartbeat, and the girls at our studio love her!!! She is supportive of absolutely everyone. If she thinks you did well, you are going to hear, “Oh my gosh, that was so AWESOME!!! I loved…..” You have the parents who are going to compliment in the dressing room, or when they see a dancer and then you have parents that are more reserved – maybe they compliment on social media or maybe they don’t compliment at all. I don’t really think about who has passed out compliments because I think of it more as a personality thing than a competitive thing. In addition, I will say there have been times when I have wanted to compliment someone, and the opportunity hasn’t provided itself, or if it is the end of a long day. We have to drive home or get to the hotel, and I don’t see the dancer or parent after the awards ceremony, I don’t take the time to seek them out that night – unless it were to be something really big. Exhaustion and hunger trump everything else sometimes! 🙂 Also factor in if something is going on with a dancer that needs attention – not feeling well, an injury, disappointing performance in another dance, etc.
Perhaps this Mom is just more reserved, or maybe the whole competitive environment stresses her or her child. If it is a competitive thing, that is unfortunate. Be proud that you are modeling a different behavior for your dancer. I say keep doing what you are doing. Children love to be celebrated and supported loud and proud so continue to do that. I understand the frustration of feeling like this parent can’t say anything nice to the group but continue to compliment all the dancers, including one of the moms who seems less supportive. At the end of the day, as long as she has her child where she needs to be and ready to perform, that is really all anyone can ask. Everything else is just a bonus.