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Lpr3

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Reply with quote  #1 
Please don't judge, I'm looking for honest advice because I'm not sure what to do. Sorry this is long.

DD is only 6. She's been dancing since she was 2 in "baby ballet" classes. Last year (5y/o) she joined a mini jazz team, which was 1.5 hours a week competition team. Age appropriate music, costumes, choreography and most importantly appropriate tone from studio (work hard, but have fun and be a good teammate). No travel, etc. She also did 1 hour required ballet. She absolutely fell in love with the team and dance. And it showed. She danced constantly, stretched constantly, etc. and began to excel, including passing girls that were more experienced than her. She's no question talented and has started getting attention from SO and AD.

I obviously think she's a beautiful dancer and i love dance in general. I think she has all the makings of a potentially wonderful dancer and I love that she loves it. Also it's been good for her in a broader sense. She's been exposed to more diversity than the homogeneous town we live in both in terms
of race and socioeconomic background. And she's learned about commitment and being part of a team.

But I really don't think I've gone beyond being supportive. But I also try hard to slow this train down so to speak, I said no to a whole extra day a week this year that she wanted because I thought it was too much at a young age, but I allowed her to take 4.5 total hours of dance a week this year based on what she asked for and what was recommended by her teachers. (Tap, mini ballet team, stretch and strength tech class, ballet class, mini jazz team)

So on to my issue. She stretches and dances around the house constantly. I don't really get involved in stretching or dancing at home except that she demands I be her audience and clap when she's finished performing from time to time [smile]. So tonight when going to bed she started crying that her groin muscle hurt (she obviously didn't know what it was called). I brought her ice, sat with her etc. and I said to her that we would talk to her teacher and ask what to do and that she should take a couple weeks off stretching, particularly at home and let it heal. She started crying harder and said "I can't! Everyone will get ahead of me!" !!!!!!!!!! I was shocked and devistated by this comment and I could see from her reaction that the thought of taking time off gave her anxiety! She's 6!!!!!!!!!! And let's be real here, there's very little chance she's going to the "olympics" of dancing, what ever that might be.

I said all the right things I could think of, it's not a competition, it doesn't matter, do the best you can do, you don't have to be the best, it's important to rest and take care of your body, etc. but OMG where did she get that from!?!? I'm terrified she got that from me?!? Am I putting pressure on her to be successful in dance??? I think she knows (because I tell her often and she repeats back to me) that dance is her choice and if she ever doesn't want to dance anymore she just tells me and she can stop (after finishing her commitments obv). But I don't deny that I think she's incredibly talented and I want her to try her hardest to see what she can achieve for as long as she's enjoying it. Im worried that some how in my actions or words I don't realize are putting pressure on her?!? But I ask her all the time if she's still having fun and she says yes. But is she saying that just to please me?!? If not, where is this competition coming from?!?

Please I would love some advice. I'm not really sure what to do. I feel like I can say all of these things again but I've said them before and she still says that she likes dance. And if it is internal and coming from her, what do i do about it? How do I slow that down? If she thinks it's a competition at age 6 I can only imagine the stress and anxiety she'll have as she'll get older. Please help me with some advice. It is way more important to me that I have a happy well adjusted daughter than a dancer by a million. I thought dance was helping make her happy and well adjusted and now I'm not so sure. Thanks in advance (especially if you made it through this whole thing) <3
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Noel

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Reply with quote  #2 
How well do you know the teacher's and the owner's behaviors around the dancers? My gut tells me that this is more of an environmental issue of her studio than an issue at home. Her statement was about others surpassing her, not about letting you down. That speaks volumes. Someone has planted the seed, however small, that she has a "spot" to maintain and a "rank" to achieve and hold.
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Angel2228

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Reply with quote  #3 
One thing that worries me is that she may have pulled her groin. Seems like she's pushing to hard and possibly stretching incorrect. I'd train yourself on proper stretching techniques so that if you see her doing it wrong, you can correct.
Example at a parent viewing day at dance the dt had the kids working on splits. She told them all square hips and the knees have to be up to prevent injury. I had no clue. At home later I saw her working on her splits not square hips and knees down. She forgot and it was easier.
It's also hard for the younger dancers to realize the importance of warming up their muscles before stretch. They do it in class, but don't realize that it's actually a warm up and not just a game to start class. (At dd's studio, 6 is still just fun and not competitive)

ETA: to answer the question
I would ask her why she likes dancing. Is it because she's good at it? She likes the attention of being top of the class? Does the DT point her out to the class to watch as she's doing it well or asks her to show everyone by example.
I try to get dd to open her eyes and look around, amazing is everywhere. They may not kick the highest, or jump the highest. But there is something there. Watch with open eyes and embrace others doing well. We have a rule at comp that she needs to talk to three people and tell them one thing she really likes about them. It helps takes the focus away from 'me'. She has lots of friends from different studios and realizes that this is a journey they're all in together and together they will challenge each other and grow to be the best possible dancer they can.
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #4 
She might just be a hard worker, and you can help her keep things in perspective.  You can be calm and reassuring about dance.  Dancers of all ages and skills need to take time off for injury.  Teachers understand this, and it might help her to know that.  Also, injured dancers often go to class or practice movements that do not involve their sore spot.  This might be a good time to work on arms and feet, so this might help her feel in control while she rests.  Young dancers can certainly overstretch, so I would chat with her teachers about how to stretch safely if she wants to keep working at home.

Finally, is the pain in her groin muscle or the front of her hip (and does it still hurt)?
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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #5 
Is there a way you can tell if this is coming from within her or outside of her, from the studio?  For example, is she hard on herself in other situations, like school?  Before you can address the issue you need to find out where it's stemming from.  Poor little honey!  Makes me sad she's feeling so much pressure at such a young age!  

Regarding the pain, I agree with the others to have her rest it and if it's still bothering her you might want to take her to the doctor.
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Lpr3

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Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks all for your helpful and *non-judgmental* feedback [smile]  She woke up this morning and said it was fine.  In fact I had to tell her to stop dancing this morning and let it rest.  She had a required 2 hour ballet camp today and I told the teacher about the injury and not to let her stretch and DT (who is also AD) was fine with it.  She came home absolutely exhausted but says her leg feels fine.  I told her that I still think she should only go to her required team classes and ballet this week and skip her technically "optional" classes, tap and strength/stretch and that I don't want her stretching at home for a while.  

As for where this is coming from, I asked her today in the car on the way to the studio what her comment was all about.  She said the same thing again.  We talked about about dance being for fun, not to take it too seriously, that I love her just the way she is, she doesn't need to be the best at anything, the worst is great as long as she's having fun, it doesn't matter, she can stop dancing (after commitments) and it won't disappoint anyone, etc.  I asked where this competitive thought was coming from and I asked if it was coming from pressure from me or from DTs.  She said no, it comes from her because she wants to be a good dancer and she knows she has to work hard.   After asking some questions she told me her stomach hurts when she thinks about not stretching or practicing at home (i.e., anxiety/worried) but she didn't know she could talk to me about it and that made her feel better she said.  Then she got bored of the conversation and was anxious to get into the studio [smile] Angel- I did also ask her why she likes dance and she said she loves music and loves moving around.  She didn't say anything about being the best or getting special roles, but I know that she's proud of that too because when we (parents) are allowed into the studio to watch something, if she gets a special part or gets singled out she gives me the biggest smile.  I really like angel's suggestion about looking at everyone because everyone is amazing in their own way.  Each is really good at some skill but no one is the best at everything.  

In terms of it coming from the studio, I'm pretty confident it's not coming from the SO, AD or parents/kids.   She doesn't have much direct interaction with SO.  SO teaches the older girls.  She has AD 1/x per week, but she had her last year and she is the nicest.  Same for her other classes.  Parents and kids are so nice and not competitive with each other.  Everyone helps each other out, watches out for each others kids, its like a family environment there.  The only teacher I'm not as familiar with is her stretch strength class.  The teacher usually teaches more advanced kids, but she is doing this class for 6-9 y/o.  I'm really happy with the class in terms of technique, but I can tell from watching at the door the teacher is strict and stern.  This is also DD's least favorite class.  I guess in theory it could be coming from this DT, but I'm not really sure.  

As for the actual injury, I think it was really minor.  She's only got like half an inch to get her middle split all the way down and then she has all 4 (both splits, straddle and middle split) and she's really close and she worked on it a bunch yesterday afternoon and I think she just over did it.  I'll make sure she takes the week off from stretching just to be sure.  I'm not actually that worried about the injury other than I clearly need to supervise her stretching now which I wasn't really doing before (I kind of figured that a 6 year old couldn't really hurt herself which I guess is wrong).  I'll also youtube some proper stretching technique to make sure she's doing it right.

So I guess overall I'm still concerned about the anxiety.  I haven't seen it in other areas like school, but she's only 6 and she's pretty smart so I don't think school is that stressful for her.  Still not really sure what to do there.  Hoping that slowing down this week will help relieve some of that stress and I guess I'll just keep talking to her about it?  Any other suggestions???
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #7 

Make sure she is truly warm before stretching. 

Dd did some stretch workshops by former US champion and Olympic rhythmic gymnast. They worked in a VERY warm room (ala hot yoga) and did plenty of calisthenics before even starting to stretch. She wanted them to understand how warm you really should be before you stretch. It' s much warmer than most kids are. From that, dd learned that she needed to get to class much earlier to really get warm or stretch only in mid class or post-class. She was a teen when she learned this. Obviously much older than your dd.

My kid was also one who was conscious of being asked to demonstrate or getting a special part from a young age. Hold on tight, mom. It's going to be quite a ride! I laugh at myself now. When dd was around your dd's age, I actually turned down the team because I thought it was ridiculous for 4-6 year olds to be taking 3 hours of a dance each week. Even after she was slowly reeled in by being invited to attend team classes for free (acting as an understudy for a kid who wasn't showing up), I made her pick one genre to compete in- tap or jazz. Adding both would have added another 3 hours a week. Keep doing what you are doing. Make sure she at least tries some other things besides dance along the way. The reason I laugh at myself from back them is that just a few years later, dd was dancing 5 days a week. Eventually, she was there every.single.day. On her day off, she would take an open class (ballet)and assist in the little ones' classes. All that makes an extra 3 hours a week look like nothing. 

 

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Mama2aHappyDancer

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Reply with quote  #8 

The comment could just have to do with her personality type. My dd has always been a perfectionist. She puts a huge amount of pressure on herself. I don't. Her dance instructors don't. She does. In a very intense way. At 5, I caught her stretching to the point of tears in class because she wanted to get her splits. I've had to have talks with her teachers over the years so they're aware. 

That said, I would pay attention to what's said in classes and talk to her teachers about it too. 

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Dancingdd

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Reply with quote  #9 
I agree it could just be her personality. But I would look into switching to a non comp studio. Just the word competition means the goal is to be better than others. Think about it.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #10 
There's some really bad stretching and dance advice on YouTube.  Don't get me wrong, there's good advice as well; it's just the nature of the beast.

If she does have access via a phone or other device, I'd check the history to make sure she'd not getting bad advice.  There's so much over-emphasis these days on oversplits and other flexibility moves.  Not everyone can do them, they should never be forced, and they are not mandatory for a successful dance career.
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