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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.
We had a similar situation at our studio and it was uncomfortable when the girls were younger and all competing against each other. We quickly figured out that this family was all about making their daughter a star and to them everyone else was competition. They took it very seriously. Thankfully, they moved on to a different studio. Maybe it’s just par for the course for people who see others as a threat.
The parents at our studio are generally very supportive of everyone. Now that I think about it, we do have a few that don’t usually say much to other dancers, but they are more quiet. We tend to surround ourselves with the dance families that are happy to celebrate everyone. We like it that way.
Okay, I’ve read this twice and thought this could be me. I don’t usually compliment the other dancers mostly because I find the whole competing thing very stressful. I make sure my own dancer knows I’m proud, but I don’t like to compliment others because I don’t want her to think they are better than her even if they are. I want her to know Mom is proud and that is my goal for the weekend. I will admit, it is hard when her teammates place above her. I don’t like it. Did I just admit to that? Yes, I did. It stinks to compete against the girls you dance with day in and day out. To go back to class and feel like you are not good enough. It concerns me as to how being judged will affect her self-esteem. My dancer is 8 so I know the original question is not about me, but it easily could be.
Competitions can be stressful and competing against your teammates is not easy. For us, I have found that we really have to focus on our personal best. Also, focusing on the positives of each performance or improvements is important as well. My dancer is 14 so the conversation at this point is very different than it would be with an 8 year old. A little more candid for sure.
Certainly, it is hard to see your dancer disappointed, but it’s important for her to learn to be a good teammate. I have always told my children whenever there is sibling competition, just because I compliment one of you on something, does not mean the other one is less than. I’m simply celebrating each of your strengths.
Completely agree that it is a personality thing. Even among my fellow Dance Mom friends, we all have different levels of showing our enthusiasm for the dancers. Our studio is large, It would be hard to compliment everyone personally. A lot of support is shown when the dance teachers post results from the competition on Facebook.
As a studio owner, one of the fast rules in our studio is that we are a TEAM…even when we’re competing against each other. Our students and families naturally compliment other dancers because that’s what the staff has always done and has always encouraged everybody else to do. We do lots of team-building in class and out. Having been involved with the dance world as a dance mother myself, I know how difficult some mothers can be…especially if she thinks her little darling is top of the line. The dancers know when someone does a great job so complimenting them is not unusual. They also know when someone doesn’t do such a good job OR thinks they didn’t do a good job, and there’s always “team mates” helping them through their disappointment. As for Abby Lee style dance moms…they and their dancers are simply not welcome in our studio. I have told families who feel their diva is better than everybody else that they need to find a more suitable studio elsewhere, No, they don’t like it, but the rest of our dance family is delighted! Dance should be fun, esteem building, and learning how to encourage others. We have no desire to be one of “those” studios, we’d rather have fewer students who are happy than more students with lots of drama.