Ballerinamom2girls

Socially isolated

19 posts in this topic

Hi. What do you do about your dancer with anxiety that feels isolated all the time? My 10 year old dances with girls ages 12-14. She's all "dolls and sparkles!", and they're all "periods and boys!". Ya know? She's a gifted dancer and will never be dancing with kids her own age; it's always been this way; but now the social shift is so obvious. How to encourage her??

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Is the anxiety a result of the social isolation or something else? Is dance her only activity? Does she have social time with friends her own age?

My DD does not suffer from anxiety so I can't speak to that, but did, for a number of years dance a bit 'above her age.' She would warm-up alone while her classmates talked of parties and other events that she was not included in. Once class started things were fine.. it was the before and after class times that were troublesome. And there were more than a few days of tears during the ride home. She would NEVER had shown those tears to her classmates, though.

At some point, only a few short years from now, you can take comfort that the maturity differences will not be as obvious. DD is still dancing above her age, but the social differences, while still there, are less visible. Advise her to keep her focus and not get derailed by the social stuff (easier said than done, I know.)

 

Good luck.

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The anxiety is "selective mutism" and only occurs as dance. She is very social otherwise, but with friends her own age. Thanks for sharing!

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DD has occasionally danced with older girls but has friends her own age. I told her from the outset, "These are not your friends. They are nice and you should be friendly but they are older and have different interests. You are here for the dance, don't worry about the rest."

 

Perhaps that sounds odd and perhaps other parents would not do that but I wanted her to know that I had no expectations about her becoming friends with kids 2-3 years older. She's very independent however and probably doesn't really care what they think.

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That's interesting learningdance. I had never thought of saying that to her. She wants to be their friend, but its probably not realistic beyond pleasantries.

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Selective mutism is difficult. My daughter experienced this at a young age and I see it occasionally in the classroom as a teacher. Do you think you should make the ballet instructors aware that she is feeling socially isolated? Perhaps there is a sensitive 12 or 13 year old who might be asked to greet her every day for starters.

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....she is a gifted dancer and will never be dancing with kids her age...

 

Your daughter will eventually be with children her age if she sticks with quality dance training. Eventually she will find herself in a room surrounded by students of her age group and yes, even younger ones. For now she may not have many friends at ballet however, she will eventually make friends with others. If she seems unhappy then there is cause for concern, but if she is fine and just focusing on her ballet, let the journey unfold on its own.

 

It might be helpful to speak with her teacher to see if there is isolation going on specifically pointed at your daughter however chances are the older students have different interests than your daughter.

 

How much older are the students?

Edited by vrsfanatic
incorrect quote

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I wonder if recalibrating her expectations would help? My DD has often been in class with older students (1-2 years older in her own level, and a broader range in some combined classes). I would say that the relationship with the older students before and after class is more of a big sister-little sister relationship, which is actually really sweet and fun. If she tried to have a peer relationship with them it would be awkward, since they really are at a different point developmentally. Having this sort of relationship also makes the older ones more thoughtful about not discussing inappropriate mature topics in front of the younger ones.

 

Would it be possible to ask one of the older girls to take her under their wing and look out for her socially? Even if they are in the same level of ballet, 10 may be a lot different than 12-14 with puberty involved!

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Thanks for the suggestions. She saw a counselor for a while for this and she improved by now she's regressing. It's really hard. You can't force them to talk.

 

vrsfanatic she does get qaulity training. She just started at 5 instead of the typical 8. The youngest girl besides her is 2 years older than her. The core group is 3-4 years older. This is a reputable school that churns out professionals.

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I have personally had this problem growing up, as does my oldest son oldest daughter, but in the opposite way your daughter has. My oldest daughter also suffers from selective mutism, not just at dance, but in all aspects of her public life. At home, she rarely is at a loss for words. :P Intellectually/emotionally she is a very isolated because she is so much more mature than everyone else, despite the huge age difference. She stopped talking in public around the end of preschool/start of kindergarten because her peers didn't understand what she was saying. She's a freshman in high school now at age 13 and in advanced classes filled with juniors and seniors. Most of her classmates are 4-5 years older than her. While she would love to talk politics or world issues with them, they are more interested in talking about their love lives and who they are going to snapchat. Dance is way better - everyone is working toward a common goal while dancing and there is no need to try to make small talk. Dance is where people come to work more and socialize less. She has had the same dance teacher for 6 years now and has just gotten to the point where she can speak to her teacher more than just head nodding while in class if she is called on. DD also has had counseling for this but it really comes down to having no one to relate to/not knowing what to say to people. It WILL get better but its going to take time for your daughter's age to catch up to her skill level. My oldest son is living the dancing dream at age 17 on his own. He has never been happier in his life than he is right now because he is finally around people he can relate to and who are focused like him. The previous 3 years were a huge struggle for him because he felt so alone and trapped in high school where he related to no one. Keep encouraging your daughter to maintain those friendships with her same aged peers - those will be her safe place.

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Thank you dinkalina it's helpful to hear I'm not alone. The teacher she worked with for 2 years at her old studio she never spoke one word to, only the head nods. Now at this new school she thankfully will respond to teachers, and initially did speak to students, but now she'll only head nod to students- and completely ignores parents when they compliment her. It's hard because I know she's coming across rude, when that's really not her intent. She told me today that "you don't know how hard it is" when I suggested she practice saying thank you to herself in the mirror. I feel bad. But I need to keep things in perspective, she's fine elsewhere, and the coolest thing about dance is that you never need to say one word to perform!

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"" ....she is a gifted dancer and will never be dancing with kids her age...

Your daughter will eventually be with children her age if she sticks with quality dance training. Eventually she will find herself in a room surrounded by students of her age group and yes, even younger ones. For now she may not have many friends at ballet however, she will eventually make friends with others. If she seems unhappy then there is cause for concern, but if she is fine and just focusing on her ballet, let the journey unfold on its own.""

 

 

I couldn't agree with this more. .. . . Being "gifted" is all about who you are around. And SIs are perfect for learning that many, many kids YOUR AGE are just as gifted, if not more. YAGP also is good for this.

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We are in the exact same boat. She's 10, there is one 11 year old in her class, and everyone else is much older. Most of her class is very protective of her, so she is fortunate, but she does feel left out sometimes. She did just get a nasty anonymous note in her bag last night from someone who is older but in a level lower (they admitted it). Our school has had these younger ones who have advanced earlier than others and always will, and everything evens out in the end. If everyone works hard and sticks with it, they all end up in the same Senior level class, just some get there quicker than others. My advice to my child was to be mindful of the age gap and don't default to "cute" because it gets annoying. She's getting a tough skin and is maturing. The question is, do you want to dance at this level or not? If yes, then expect the awkwardness and some jealousies.

 

She will try some SIs this summer outside of our home school so that she can see other advanced 9, 10 and 11 year olds. I believe someone else suggested it, and this might be a good idea for you too.

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Would it be ok for me to piggy back off this thread to discuss my daughter's selective mutism or should I start my own thread?

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Your choice, newballetmom. :)

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