High Gold Member
Registered: 1344196225 Posts: 848
Reply with quote #1
DD will be 12 in April.
Starting from late September, after Nutcracker auditions and basically seeing her close dance friend hit puberty (which means this friend is taller, stronger, etc.), DD has had little confidence in her dancing. Even the RWB acceptance hasn't changed this.
She also used to love performing/competition. Sure, she might have gotten a few butterflies, but she was always excited to get out on stage. Plus, competing in front of judges seemed to give her that extra light in her eyes. Now, she negatively self-talks about what an awful dancer she is. She's done two comps already with this attitude - and her teachers have noticed that she's not her usual self.
Enter YAGP this weekend. The morning before her solos she said, "I'm a terrible dancer. I'm going to fail!" I tried to boost her confidence, and remind her that, come Monday morning life goes on as usual. So, she did IMO a wonderful job on her contemporary solo. However, and maybe knowing ballet and seeing her run this so many times has me super critical, but she kind of fell apart. I could see it from the opening pirouette. It looked like she gave up 1/2 way through.
She insists she still loves dance. She only has two comps left, so she has to finish the season. After that? I don't know.
Is this an age where previously confident dancers lose that confidence? Have any of your dancers experienced this? How did you help them?
High Gold Member
Registered: 1446575647 Posts: 686
Reply with quote #2
Maybe competitive dance isn’t right for her. I sometimes get the feeling from your posts that a lot of emphasis is put in placement and such. And I’m not trying to say that in a judging way or anything just an observation from the way you really analyze how they’ve scored in previous years, whether it’s a trick friendly comp, or the weight of the adjudication. She shouldn’t be dancing for 3 random judges she should be dancing for herself. Maybe a pre-pro ballet program would be more suited for her where the emphasis isn’t in winning competitions but focuses on her own progress. I’ve heard really good things about Valentina’s and we’ve done Ballet Detroit’s SI a couple of times and I can’t say enough about Sergei. I’m sure their year round program is just as excellent. Honestly, if this were my daughter and she was losing confidence or her love of dance I’d pull her in a second and find something more suited to her own needs.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1344196225 Posts: 848
Reply with quote #3
momcrew - You may not have meant to be judging, but I interpreted it that way. It is no secret I don't like KAR-type comps for a litany of reasons. I only let DD do them because SHE SAID she wanted to do them and, until this year, enjoyed them. Personally, I think they're ridiculous.
My question is whether a drop in confidence is common at this age?
Her confidence has dropped all the way around, not just comps. I guess I didn't make that clear. Could it be starting middle school?
I thought it went without saying that competitions of any kind will stop.
Her studio isn't a comp studio. It's a BALLET-focused studio, with a daytime pre-pro program for advanced students, AND a ballet "company" attached to it. The comp team is extremely small (15 kids) and is really used for stage practice for YAGP, and to make the studio money. In fact, several of V's "success" stories received years of training at DD's current studio. Though, V's is on our list IF DD felt the need to switch studios.
THIS IS NOT TO BRAG. IT'S INFORMATIONAL ONLY. For non-Canadians, RWB stands for Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She was accepted into its school's Professional Division summer program for the month of July. They accept maybe 1 in 5. THIS should have been a confidence booster. It is stage 2 of the audition process to be assessed for suitability for its year-round ballet program. She is so excited to go, but I think her confidence has to increase to handle that environment.
I've never been a mom to a tween girl, so I want to guide her to follow her heart (dance or no dance), and I feel unprepared.
Registered: 1332216704 Posts: 1,193
Reply with quote #4
Separate from dance, middle school years are the time that we can see increasing depressive symptoms in girls. Start with two equally talented girls and one might see dance as a place to build self confidence and resilience, and the other might see dance as a source of criticism. I would try to determine first if this lack of confidence is limited to dance, and go from there. Hopefully it’s just a stage. My dd has a dance specific funk at 13 - lasted a couple of months - and resolved as she committed to focus on working hard for herself. Wishing her the best.
High Silver Member
Registered: 1432239628 Posts: 157
Reply with quote #5
We have a dancer at our studio who just turned 13 and I've definitely noticed a change in her this past season so far. We had our first comp last week and she came back into the dressing room after one of her solos and was very self critical of her performance and just didn't seem her usual self. She had 3 solos and neither of them placed or even scored up to her usual standards - she was in a trio that same day that actually did very well placing 1st and winning scholarship money. So it definitely makes me think it's an age thing and for this dancer's sake I hope she bounces back as she's such a strong dancer. Even in the change room back at the studio I've noticed she's more introverted now. She's my DDs assigned dance buddy too this year and my DD is such a happy, exuberant kid, she's found it hard to click with this girl because of the funk she appears to be in now. My DD just danced her very first solo ever at last week's comp and this girl though there was not at all supportive, didn't reach out with encouragement, nothing, which is unlike her.
Registered: 1490225868 Posts: 75
Reply with quote #6
I think all kids have crises of confidence at various times--and it's normal whenever it happens.
My daughter (16) had a bit of a crisis of confidence this past fall. I found it helpful to reach out to her teachers to let them know what was going on and they were all helpful in supporting her and helping her move through it. Ironically, what she really wanted/needed was to be pushed even harder so that she could feel herself making progress. I'm sure you and your daughter and her teachers can figure out how to get her over this bump in the road.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1446575647 Posts: 686
Reply with quote #7
All I’m saying is there’s a reason why she’s having a drop in confidence and to me maybe it’s the emphasis placed on traditional comps who don’t typically reward ballet or as you’ve said on more than one occasion it’s because she’s not favored at the studio and therefore maybe not given all of the opportunities she could get elsewhere. Therefore maybe a studio who doesn’t compete at all or a new ballet school would be a better fit for her. 🤷♀️ I’ve never seen your daughter dance so my reply has nothing to do with her abilities.
Registered: 1314947096 Posts: 476
Reply with quote #8
Honestly, I would cut her off from all social media, particularly the Insta-famous dancers (if you haven't already).
We are seeing a big increase in kids around that age losing their confidence and engaging in self harm behaviors like cutting. We would maybe see one/decade and it was usually a kid with lots of problems outside of dance. Now it is a couple/year, and they are good kids, good families, loving engaged parents, and a strong support culture. The social media phenomenon where everyone posts these made up worlds where they are all so famous and fabulous is terrible for tween/teen self esteem. Every one else looks so amazing, and your ordinary life looks looks not only boring, but like you are a loser in comparison. That kid gets 1000s of like for posting her turn sequence, but I get only nice comments or reactions from 10 people, and two of them are my mom and my grandma (never mind that mom only lets you have certain people as friends or fans of your page.) This does not even account for the fact that unlike when we were kids and could leave the bullies at school so that home was our sanctuary, social media has made it so that bullies have access to our kids 24/7 and there is no sanctuary anywhere to be themselves. A drop in self esteem at the middle school age is normal. Social media, even responsible supervised social media use (such as following various kid online stars) has made dangerous drops in self esteem more common. If you have already unplugged her, good for you. But if you have not I would do that as a first step, even if she complains. I bet you will see a turn around very quickly.
Registered: 1405988352 Posts: 47
Reply with quote #9
Originally Posted by
prancer Separate from dance, middle school years are the time that we can see increasing depressive symptoms in girls. Start with two equally talented girls and one might see dance as a place to build self confidence and resilience, and the other might see dance as a source of criticism. I would try to determine first if this lack of confidence is limited to dance, and go from there. Hopefully it’s just a stage. My dd has a dance specific funk at 13 - lasted a couple of months - and resolved as she committed to focus on working hard for herself. Wishing her the best. Yep. THIS. I work with this age bracket (in a different art form) and totally agree with everything you just said. What I see regularly is that right around late 7th/early 8th, some kids who have been doing fantastically keep right on trucking, and a few have a sudden crisis of confidence. Often related to lots of other things as Prancer said and not having anything to do with their actual performance in that art. This isn't to say to ignore it - just to say that yes, I see it in 12 to 13 year old girls (and boys) on a regular basis. I don't have brilliant advice because it seems like the solution has been different for every kid I've seen go through it.
Registered: 1248285652 Posts: 2,150
Reply with quote #10
I did not have time to read the responses so if I am repeating then I just guess it's further evidence that "like minds. . ."
I don' t know that I would call this a crisis of confidence exactly. I might call it a lack of practice performing ballet and a kind of mental/psychological thing. . . . AND it's super common. I believe that every dancer will experience this (over and over and over again.) Dance is tough and part of the odd paradox is that in order to be "good" you have to "summon confidence." In other words you kind of have to have it and not depend on others to givec it to you. DD has done YAGP and I will also observe that the culture of the organization and the coaching DD received, while excellent, is not super fun or encouraging. That jazz comps have musical interludes between solos, a "radio announcer" style voice, tons of energy, and smiles from the judges. Not so much at YAGP. It's serious, quiet, and the judges don't smile and they don't really care if you feel encouraged or good about yourself. . Just my opinion. When DD did YAGP she had bad dreams on a few occasions before events. Her coach was awesome and very good but Russian and serious and the style was to just pick apart the entire thing all the way up until curtain and then afterward when she rocked it to nod and just say, "Good," quietly. It's different. I finally had to tell her. . .this coach is never going to give you an A+, not the style, and honesty reigns. After a kind of less than stellar performance at one YAGP, I finally had to tell the coach, 'Look when you rehearse her the day before or at the venue, if you start bringing up a whole bunch of new, non-essential corrections, it creates panic in her. She thinks, 'Oh no! I didn't even know that was wrong and now I have to fix it in an hour.' " Of course I said it differently, but it helped. So back to YAGP, I would simply talk to your Dd about needing practice performing ballet solos and understanding the culture. . . . IT'S ALL A LEARNING opportunity. DD used visualization techniques and meditation. And you might think, "Well that's crazy. .. Why should a 12 year old need to do that to do something that if fun?" And maybe you would be right. I guess I just felt like it was a tool that I could give her for life. Another thing that is SUPER useful is to tape the variation and watch a good version before performing. In addition, most dancers have a "mantra" that they use on stage or in class ("It's okay." " I love to dance." "God is here." "Move on.") There really is a HUGE mind-body connection in dance. You WILL dance what you think and so you have to manage your mind. If she is going to be in a Pre pro program, she will have to navigate this over and over and over. I know NBS and RWB. . Believe me my DD is in a Pre Pro US program--you cannot expect teachers to fill your confidence void. You have to be strong, develop tools, weather all kinds of stuff. BUT remember that it's all LEARNED. Just as you LEARN how to do a tendu or grand jete, you have to learn how to manage your mind, handle stage fright, deal with casting you don't like, not be the favorite in the class, and on and one. So THERE's nothing WRONG This is "data" that you can use to help her develop essential skills. with your DD. And, well, I understand your frustration as a mom. . felt that myself. But being irritated with her is not going to help. Also, use articles, podcasts, read dance bios. . . . all of that normalizes this pre pro phenonmenon. http://www.dancespirit.com/become-a-better-performer-7-strategic-ways-to-prime-your-mind-for-the-stage-2522444376.html
High Platinum Member
Registered: 1298213712 Posts: 4,368
Reply with quote #11
Great post, @classydance!
And technically, the more they advance, the less they realize that they really know. "A plie is the first thing you learn and the last thing you master." I referred to that quote many times over the years. Ballet is an attempt to attain the unattainable. No one is perfect. That perfect performance is elusive and always will be. There's always something that could have been a bit better. That's part of what draws them in and keeps them going.
They all have ebbs and flows with confidence. Learning to overcome that is a continual struggle. but finding it brings such a magical change in their dancing.
I do admit I don't quite understand why there is such a focus on competition. It can wait. They certainly are not going anywhere any time soon.
Registered: 1240845482 Posts: 346
Reply with quote #12
It is definitely a challenging age. At 12 both my DDs changed. One more than the other but yes, there is self doubt and negativity. It may get worse before it gets better. Just keep motivating and maybe doing things not dance related that are motivating, even a girl power movie or something to help release the negative thoughts. She is probably a perfectionist but that may not be a good thing either. Since you know now that she gets into her head before competition perhaps you can find a positive distraction prior to competing. A motivational video/song/quote or pep talk. Good luck.
High Bronze Member
Registered: 1313078312 Posts: 40
Reply with quote #13
Hey - the age is tricky in general and it sounds like your DD perhaps is critical of herself. I have one of those myself 😉 We call it "stinkin thinkin'" and we all do it. I think by the sounds of it your daughter loves dancing and probably competing but she needs to know it is okay not to win but to still be proud of herself. Now that is tough.......and that makes her as good as she is. I actually got my daughter a therapist - just to chat with and to help her with the coping skills in this crazy world of social media and I will say it ...."dance". We all love it but it can be stressful - if we get stressed by it imagine how they feel. I personally think we all should have a therapist that we need to see on at least a yearly basis for a tune up .....haha. My daughter started young enough and she really likes her person - and we are planning on keeping him all the way through high school 😉 Not sure if that helped you at all - but I thought I would let you know that others have felt the same way 😉
High Gold Member
Registered: 1344196225 Posts: 848
Reply with quote #14
Thank you so much everyone!!
I will definitely take all of your suggestions to heart. The bottom line is to provide love and support in ways that will benefit HER needs.
She had counseling a few years ago for obsessive thoughts, and it really helped, so if this continues I'm definitely open to that for her.
Registered: 1491795047 Posts: 19
Reply with quote #15
Originally Posted by
Phx115 momcrew - You may not have meant to be judging, but I interpreted it that way. It is no secret I don't like KAR-type comps for a litany of reasons. I only let DD do them because SHE SAID she wanted to do them and, until this year, enjoyed them. Personally, I think they're ridiculous. My question is whether a drop in confidence is common at this age? Her confidence has dropped all the way around, not just comps. I guess I didn't make that clear. Could it be starting middle school? I thought it went without saying that competitions of any kind will stop. Her studio isn't a comp studio. It's a BALLET-focused studio, with a daytime pre-pro program for advanced students, AND a ballet "company" attached to it. The comp team is extremely small (15 kids) and is really used for stage practice for YAGP, and to make the studio money. In fact, several of V's "success" stories received years of training at DD's current studio. Though, V's is on our list IF DD felt the need to switch studios. THIS IS NOT TO BRAG. IT'S INFORMATIONAL ONLY. For non-Canadians, RWB stands for Royal Winnipeg Ballet. She was accepted into its school's Professional Division summer program for the month of July. They accept maybe 1 in 5. THIS should have been a confidence booster. It is stage 2 of the audition process to be assessed for suitability for its year-round ballet program. She is so excited to go, but I think her confidence has to increase to handle that environment. I've never been a mom to a tween girl, so I want to guide her to follow her heart (dance or no dance), and I feel unprepared. Couple of things that came to my mind when I read your post from my DDs experiences are….getting into RWB may not really be a confidence booster because they knew that the other girls there were going to be better than they are….so yes it is exciting to get in but then they knew they weren't going to be the big fish in a little pond anymore. And my DDs loved to quote "we aren't good dancers, we just have the potential to be good dancers". They knew that other girls may have stronger technique/better training or had a stronger desire/passion to be ballerinas and that wasn't exactly what they were passionate about. I had to listen to them and trust that they knew themselves because it is tough when you see your child not working to what you think their potential level is. It has to be their path and this can be difficult to let them walk it without us parents influencing them. I think our kids will follow their heart if they truly know we will support them in whatever decision they make…tough to do though! So getting into RWB has maybe increased your DDs stress knowing that she may potentially be in a whole new level of dance. Also just wanted to add that the environment at RWB was amazing and supportive if that can help relieve some stress. I thought it would be catty and competitive and it really was not that way for the years my DDs went. I was genuinely shocked that the girls were all more about being friends and sharing the love of dance and having fun. Even when the offers for year round came in, the girls were all very kind and caring. Yes the odd tears but the girls realized that even some of the best dancers didn't get in so it wasn't who was "the best" it was about potential for certain physical characteristics and that helped them realize they could still be great dancers even without an offer for year round. And my final thought was my DDs most memorable solo was when she was 11, danced her ballet solo super fast, stopped with a "deer in headlights" look and then ran off the stage. Over the yeamy DDs have thought they were terribe and other times they know they rocked it….learning how to deal with these feelings is a great lifetime skill but it's tough listening to them doubt themselves. I just say "I love you and if you aren't enjoying this anymore then you don't have to do it".
Registered: 1517870509 Posts: 65
Reply with quote #16
We are our own worst critics. Add in dance and wall to wall mirrors and social media and puberty and multiply the first sentence times 20.
I mentioned before on another post that my dd went through this. It took a few months for her to get past it. For her the SI helped her see she was good. She was recognized there and it helped. No she wasn’t the best one there. She wasn’t even in the top class. There was one above hers. But new teachers, new eyes, new critiques helped her a ton. She came back confident and better. I hope the SI does that for your dd as well if she doesn’t start to feel better before then.
I agree with most everyone else. This is really common. Two girls at my dd’s studio have gone through the same thing this year too. They are 15.
Just keep n eye on her. Encourage her. And make sure she’s doesn’t develop any self effacing behavior. In all likelihood she will come out of it fine.
Registered: 1248285652 Posts: 2,150
Reply with quote #17
At some level I think kids have to move past this "I have natural talent" to a growth mindset and "I have to work to make it."
When a kid says, "I am a terrible dancer," they are really set in a fixed mindset-success goes to those with natural aptitude. And, in dance, natural apitude helps, but you can't really go anywhere without a growth mindset because someone else will always be better. And, well, it's kind of an adolescent overlay dramatized approach. . . .
Registered: 1488084394 Posts: 82
Reply with quote #18
I am the mom of teens. 12 is the age where kids, especially girls stop actives, not just dance. I stop my kids when they engage in negative self-talk and make them reframe their words. It is something that you will need to help her work through.