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Ballet Talk for Dancers
BoyDanceMom111

Young dancer who sometimes wants to quit

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BoyDanceMom111

I have a 7 year old son who has been dancing for 2 years.  He has pretty extreme ADHD and dance is the one part of the week where he can focus without question, where he shines.  He has adored his time in the studio, and is always proud to tell family and friends (as well as complete strangers) that he dances.  He just entered second grade however, and suddenly he is cold on dancing.  He says he doesn't want to dance but cannot tell my why.  He goes to dance class and loves every second - he is surprised when I come pick him up that his time is up.  He was so proud to go to the dance shop and get new shoes for the season, and kept showing them off to everyone in the store.  He is smiling and attentive and happy in class....but outside of class, claims he doesn't want to do it.

I have tried to find out what the block is - why he would want to stop dancing but have gotten nowhere with it.  I am hesitant to outright ask if people are teasing him for fear it will introduce the topic to him (up to this point, I have not ever witnessed a bad interaction at the news that DS dances....to be honest, I am not entirely certain he is aware that this is something some boys get teased about).  

What would you do?  Allow your son to drop out, and figure you can try to pick it up again in a few years?  Try to push through the season at a minimum?  I am really struggling with this decision.  He has a natural talent.  It is very good for him - the activity, the chance to shine and be successful which is so hard in school, and also the benefits for his ADHD (focusing mind and body at the same time).  He loves it.  But something is holding him back and weeks of gentle probing have gotten me nowhere.  Did anyone else face this with a young dancer?  What did you do?  Would appreciate any guidance you can give me.

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finallykf

Hi there.  My son started dancing when he was a year older than your son.  He was very excited about dancing and would talk to all of his classmates about ballet.  The teasing started immediately.  He really didn't say much about it to us at first because I think he was confused.  He didn't see anything wrong with being a boy who does ballet so I don't think he understood why his classmates were making fun of him for it.  Although his classmates knew he danced, he really cut back on talking about it at school.  He wouldn't even tell new people that he danced and when people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up he would make things up instead of saying he wanted to be a ballet dancer.  As he got a bit older and gained more confidence from dance he became more comfortable talking about dance at school and he was pretty good at "defending" the fact that he danced when kids made fun of him.  When he was about 12 the local news did a story on him about the summer intensives he had received scholarships to and suddenly everyone thought it was cool that he danced.

I would recommend asking him if he is getting teased.  Bullying can be severe for boys who dance and they need to have a LOT of support at home and at their studio in order to make it through the teasing.  He will be more likely to stick with it and continue to enjoy dance if he knows there are a lot of people who support him and if those people are reinforcing that there is nothing wrong with him because he dances.  

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Thyme

Yes I agree with asking him. My inclination is to awaken him to the issue as dealing with others' reactions is (in my opinion) an important life skill. If he is confused by any teasing, perhaps it will be helpful to prepare some responses and understand it. If it isn't about teasing, at least he will be ready when (not if) it happens.

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BoyDanceMom111

My older boy confirmed for me this evening that Conor is being teased.  Tomorrow I am going to have a big sit down with my little guy and see if we can talk about it, and try to help him come up with some good things to say back (big brother has also agreed to be on high alert and defend Conor when it happens and he is nearby) and talk about now letting other people take away from what we love.  I am just heartbroken he is dealing with this already.  I thought it was a few years away til kids would care.  Luckily our entire family is supportive - including his dad and big brother.  I just hope it is enough.  He is awfully young to stay strong against pressure.

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Immashel

Good luck to you and your DS. I remember when my DS was younger from the ages of about 8-11 he didn't really talk about his dancing much because he was aware of the teasing he might get but from the age of about 12 it began to become "cool" to dance so hang in there!

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Thyme

yes our DS (now 18yo) kept his dance life fairly quiet until he was about 15 and it became cool. It is sad that our boys can't shine when they are young. He never considered it a 'secret'- his friends all knew but he didnt broadcast it widely. It seemed unwise and unnecessary in his situation but I know that this varies greatly depending upon your community.

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Managingtwotoo

Oh gosh, I so hate this topic!!!  My DS has loved dancing since he started at age 3 because he said, "now I am 3 and it is my turn to dance" (DD is two years older).  From minute one in class the boy was hooked and loved the class.  The problem was when he left the class and  -I swear it happened as early as kindergarten - boys just would not leave him alone about it.  "You are a girl" "dancing is for girls" etc.,  so he would constantly say he didn't want to go to class loudly and strongly.  However, no matter how much he protested, once he set foot in the studio he just loved it.  He has a lot of natural talent, he has amazing feet and turn out and he is (turns out) tall and slender with very long legs.  We just kept pushing him in the door and once in, he was happy.  Now at age 14 he is just beginning to accept that this is part of who he is.  The other issue with ballet is that boys don't get to the "tricks" as quickly as girls - once they get there - the double tours and the a la seconde turns, it is game changing for them (not to mention being surrounded by adoring girls -who are so annoying at age 7/8, are actually pretty great by age 14)!  I say as long as the child is happy in studio, ignore all the social pressure and push him past it.

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Ldot

My DS who is now 12 started ballet at 3 years old and loved it. He also has ADHD and dance class was the only place he seemed to be able to focus, too. But then the teasing started - probably in late grade 2 or early grade 3 - both in school and in the studio. It was rough and he lost confidence in himself and his ability to dance. He still wanted to dance but didn’t think he was good enough - compared to the girls.

We ended up finding a different studio and a different school and slowly his confidence is coming back. It also helped when I showed him the videos of male football players and soccer players taking ballet classes - ballet is hard even for other male athletes!

It’s encouraging to me that as he gets older he is using dance to manage the ADHD, and realizing that the ADHD can help him with his dance.

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