How to Respond When Your Child Wants to Stop Dancing
“I don’t want to dance anymore. I think I’d rather try _________”
Oh, it is the moment that so many of us as parents and dance teachers dread. The child/student says that they are no longer interested in dancing. But, how you respond will make a huge difference in what happens next.
The best thing that you can do is to put on your listening ears and act as a guide through the process. Hopefully, you’ll get to the bottom of whether or not they truly want to stop.
Find out what has changed. If your child was enjoying classes and you’ve seen a sudden change, do some investigating. Maybe they received a correction more harshly than it was meant to be delivered and they are reacting to that pain. It could be that a friend or several friends have decided to stop dancing and have changed the environment in the classroom. Your child might be bullied. Classes may have become more challenging. It may be seasonal. Or maybe they really want to try something new. Either way, start asking the questions that will help you to know what has changed.
If it is a relational issue, talk to the other parties involved. Before you pull your child from the studio, talk with the faculty or school director. Try to work through the issues whether or not you ultimately decide to leave.
Try a different style of dance. Speaking from personal experience, I needed a studio that offered more than classical ballet classes. I love ballet, but my body, mind, and spirit needed modern and jazz (and even some tap) as well. Having secondary options was just enough to keep me focused during my primary classes…and led me to the techniques that I would use for the majority of my professional career. But that’s a story for another time!
Take a pause. Sometimes you really have to go all in and take a full break from dance. Overall, I have found this to be more effective for students than doing a reduced schedule. If they’re truly interested, they’ll come back. And they often come back more focused and determined than ever before.
Unless you and the staff decide that the child is creating a toxic environment for others, I fully recommend that you ask them to finish the season. It is important for them to honor their commitment to themselves and others. Encourage them to finish strong!
Try not to reflect on the amount of time spent as if the child owes more to it. For example, if the child wants to stop during their sophomore year in high school, avoid stating something along the lines of, “You’ve danced this long. Why don’t you just finish through graduation.” This isn’t what dance is about- clocking in and out without fully being present. The child may have another gift that is stronger and could use the hours otherwise spent in the studio to develop it.
If the child has only danced for a season, it is possible that their attitude and feelings towards dance may improve with time. However, sometimes it is best to appreciate the time that they had and move on to another activity.
Ultimately, you know your child best. Listen, reflect, and work to set them up to reach their fullest potential regardless of the activity. Learn to recognize the times when they simply need a nudge of encouragement to get back into the studio or when they need input from another adult. Respect when it is time to end. In doing so, they may come back to the practice. If nothing else, you leave room for an appreciation of the art form rather than a sense of regret.
Talk about it below. How have you responded when your child announced that they are no longer interested in dance?
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