I’m No Dance Mom…Enrichment Activities – When Do You Push and When Do You Stand Back?
From a young age, my daughters have always been involved in extra-curricular activities. I’ve never pushed them or chosen for them, rather given them choices and opportunities to pick.
They played sports for as long or as short as they wanted, with an emphasis on learning the game and having fun over winning.
Yes, I’m that parent.
I know a wide variety of parents who push their children into specific sports and make them continue on, even when the kids lose interest. Or keep them in an activity or discipline to build a certain skill or talent. I’m not necessarily talking Dance Moms, just those parents who keep their kids going in an activity throughout their childhood…with or without a specific end goal. Some children burn out in this situation while others thrive.
I’ve always encouraged my children to try as many activities as they want. My only rule is they can only commit to two at a time. This saves my sanity as well as theirs. Kids need time to be home, play and stay on top of homework. And I don’t want to spend every evening and weekend of mine (and their) time running all over town.
Why spend all of their childhood focusing on one or two disciplines while ignoring everything else in the world? This is their opportunity to try as many different experiences as possible. Drop the uninteresting ones and focus on the good ones.
Over the past few years, both of my daughters have found joy in dance. My 7-year-old recently asked to give up the performance part of dance to simply enjoy learning and growing without the stress of stage fright. I have gently encouraged her to the point of pushing it when I see an opening, but I have not forced her to rejoin the performance troupe.
I am conflicted with this, as part of me feels that she should work on conquering her fear of performing and work through it, while the other part feels that she should have the option of performing. She is only 7 years old. Does she really need to have unnecessary stress like that in her life? She has a lot of time to work on stage fright.
My 10-year-old also dances. She discovered hip hop this summer and wanted to add a second class and troupe to her schedule. Dance has given her enormous self confidence. So I was unsure how to proceed when she came to me after only a couple of classes saying she was struggling.
My girl is a perfectionist and wanted to be the best right out of the gates. She didn’t want to look bad in front of the rest of the class. She is struggling with flexibility and the gymnastics skills needed.
She also told me that she doesn’t enjoy the conditioning – she just wants to dance.
Once again I’m conflicted. Do I force her to stay and power through the pain while also learning an important lesson in commitment? Or do I allow her to quit if she decides it isn’t a good fit? This brought out the mama bear in me. I don’t want my child unhappy and I don’t want her to suffer. I also don’t want to put her at risk in an activity that has physical demands.
The biggest dilemma? I don’t want to keep a kid working towards something that they don’t want, yet I don’t want a kid who will quit everything at the drop of a hat.
In the end, I told her that she was committed through the performance in October. I offered to pay for private lessons to help her feel more comfortable and I told her if she wants to dance, she must suck it up and power through the conditioning. Even though it isn’t fun, it is the building block for being a successful dancer.
I also became the example in signing up for Zumba lessons at the same time as her class. I’m not a fan of aerobics classes or working out, but I’m committing and sticking with it to improve myself.
What are your thoughts? Do you let your kids wander from activity to activity or do you keep them focused on just a few?