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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Is 12 a tough age or what?


shuttleservice

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There is a thread being discussed by teachers about burn out in students. It is mentioned that 10th grade is a common time for burn out or quitting. I am, lately, very frustrated with my moody 12 year old who used to be the happiest, "you can never bring me down" child that one could ever meet. She seems especially frustrated, (and sometimes burned out) from ballet of late and frequently I am left speachless as to what to say, if anything.

 

She comes out of class a couple times a week saying "it wasn't fun tonight". I feel like we spend an awful lot of time at the studio and in the car for this not to be fun. Today on the way to dance DD said that the reason last night wasn't fun is that she was trying to dance more expressively, as the teacher keeps telling her she needs to do and then she feels like everything falls apart. . . . That she does combinations very well when practicing in the back, makes triples, blah, blah, blah but falls apart when her group is up. Then she feels like the teacher is disappointed with her. Too much pressure for 12!

 

How do I keep my little perfectionist from ruining the fun for herself and how would I know if she was "burned out"? The teacher says that she is very smart and knows what her body should do, beyond her years. She says the good side of that is her advanced level for her age and the bad side is her high level of frustration.

 

"Ahhhh".... I feel like a frustrated mom who misses my "I'm happy to be happy all the time" little girl.

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Yes, a perfectionist child is a double-edged sword, for sure. Not easy to deal with. Just take the lead from her. She will go through periods like this, although it really is quite early for that to be starting. There will be good days and bad days. If the bad days start outweighing the good days, she may decide this is not for her. Or, you may decide that if it is making her that unhappy, then it should stop. See how she reacts to that idea! :D It could be agreement, but more likely she will be horrified at the idea.

 

Actually, I think the teacher may need to have a little talk with her about facts of life in the ballet world. It takes a certain amount of time to make a dancer, and no matter how talented you are, you are not going to be there at 12! If you do not have the patience to do the work and allow yourself to progress normally, then this may not be the life for you. Perfectionism is fine, to a point. When it gets in the way of the work, it's a problem. She may have to learn this. Wasting energy being upset with yourself, instead of just DOING it, is not productive.

 

When they start with pirouettes being off on a given day spoiling their lives, it's time to send them out of class until they get their head together and realize that there is a bit more to life.....and to ballet!....than pirouettes! I have had this with a number of students over the years, although usually they were like 16 or so. I only had to send them out of class once, for being so frustrated with themselves that they were destroying their class, mine and everyone else's too. I told them to leave, and come back only when they felt they could approach the class with a positive attitude. They did, they never forgot it, and they learned the lesson. The ones this happened to, by the way, all became professional dancers, and three of them were/are, principal dancers. :thumbsup:

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I really see this as more of a sign of her age than anything else. That moodiness is for a reason: she's got a whole lot of new hormones racing through her body, her brain structure is changing, and everything about herself just doesn't FEEL like herself anymore. She's growing, her body's changing, and she doesn't know its new landscape. It seems like a foreigner to her that she can't control. That would make anybody cranky!

 

Even the most even-tempered, happy-go-lucky kids - especially the girls - don't go through that young adolescent period unscathed. Some have a harder time than others. There's not a whole lot you can do about it other than not make it your problem. Let her talk but don't get sucked up in her daily frustrations. Recognize that it WILL pass. Lend her a kind ear, support her, but don't commiserate about the goings-on in ballet class. It's hard to separate true ballet misgivings and pulling away from adolescent sensitivities when a kid is at her stage of development. Give it time. Eventually the truth emerges.

 

Kids that age get hypersensitive to anything someone says to them and they perceive most of it as criticism. When they DO get praise, they tend to discount it and often they omit telling their moms about THAT part of ballet class :wink: It's probable that they don't quite believe it or they feel they can' t measure up or, "Oh, that teacher's saying that but she doesn't mean it."

 

My daughter, a very happy, easy-going child, went through her dark days too. The worst of it lasted about a year. After that, she was still more sensitive but nowhere near as much as earlier. By 16, most of it was gone except for little glimmerings now and then. They too slipped away with another year or two. Now she's back to being her cheerful (her description of herself for a school project about a 1/2 year before the hormones struck) self.

 

She's always been all business in ballet class but she doesn't take things personally the way she did at 12 and 13. Back then, she thought the teacher was gunning for her because she didn't like her, now she loves it when a teacher harangues her in class. What a difference steadier hormones make!

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Thank you Ms. Leigh and vagansmom. I doubt DD would ever show anything but a willing face to her teacher. Ironically, after I posted tonight she came home having had a good night at class and in a very good mood.

 

She was expressing compassion that a friend, who took the summer off, feels behind and she said, "I wish I could tell all my friends that if someone else is improving a lot and maybe you aren't, it could be because the other dancer is really working hard, or... it could be that it's just their time to improve a lot and it's not your turn right now."

 

I told her that I thought that was very good advice and could she please write it down and let me keep it on file to give back to her on the nights she needs it. :wink:

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My middle school kids (students) are struggling in general. I think its a really hard time and age. The realization of actually noticing yourself in the mirror and not always thinking you look great can be quite a shock. (usually 6th graders) Then in 7th grade, emotional highs and lows, identity crisis, and struggling with staying focused. Homework seems to be a big issue and when the parents suddenly get the emotions that they are not used to they start cutting back instead of assuring their kids of the confidence they have in them to handle things and just plugging away. They become sulky, hyper, teary, angry and that can be in one sentence! Its hard for parents to watch it and then the next day when we are worrying about it they are fine and forgot the tantrum that we are still angsting over.

As a ballet teacher and a parent my input is

I say make no changes, except pick your battles and cut them some slack but stay the course and reassure them that they can manage it all. That is where they will find their confidence. :wub::thumbsup::wink::angry::D

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pick your battles and cut them some slack

 

This, I think is key. Especially cutting them slack during the mood swings. I am a mom who talks things through a lot and it's against my natural instict to stay quite during some of these sulking episodes. The good news is my 14 year old seems happier these days, so maybe I'll just keep my eyes on the horizon. :wink:

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I'd take the "terrible two's" over 12-13 any day. My older daughter, who had always been a happy, sunny child, was very sullen and "ugly-acting" beginning about age 12. Age 13 was particularly ugly--even dance classes were a source of negativity. She behaved very out-of-character in many instances throughout the course of that two-year period. Although I still loved her dearly, there were days when I simply did not like her. Her younger sister bore the brunt of alot of her negative comments, undeserved to be sure. The younger sister assured me she'd never act that way. The spring of her 14th year, DD began to be more positive again. By the end of that summer, she was positively delightful and much more in keeping with her "original" personality.

 

Well, now her younger sister has entered that 13th year. Sullen, non-talkative. Again, not at all her typical self. My husband and I just look at each other and remind ourselves that "this too did pass".

 

It definitely has a developmental age component. In addition, for ballet purposes, the body undergoes such changes. The coordination is off, the center of the body changes, nothing seems to stay the same from day to day, limbs lengthen and elongate, the body bulks up, thins out, redistributes.

 

My advice: Put her on a shelf in the closet for two years. Then, take her out, dust her off, and you'll be good to go (until the next developmental road bump).

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I am a mom who talks things through a lot and it's against my natural instict to stay quite during some of these sulking episodes.

 

Ohh that is another good one. Hard for a blabbermouth like me. Often it is better to let them fume and say nothing instead of offering the solution. Its great when they figure it out themselves. :wink:

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I, too, thought that 12 years old was a difficult year. But then this year, we hit 13!!! :angry: And then all the memories of my older three daughters at age 13 and in 8th grade came to mind. I am determined to make it through this year with my sanity intact. I hope my 13 year old survives as well. Whoever said to just put her on a shelf for a year was not too far from the truth. Hang in there, parents of middle-school aged daughters! :blink:

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I am a mom who talks things through a lot and it's against my natural instict to stay quite during some of these sulking episodes.

I didn't get the concept of just listening until my DD actually told me "Mom, I am not looking for you to solve my problems, I just want to vent." It is true that what may sound like a serious problem that needs our special brand of parental advice is merely just DK releasing some emotional stress.

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When my children were all very young, and I was having a particularly rough day, someone (don't remember who, but wish I did) told me "Don't worry it gets easier."

 

Whoever she was, SHE LIED!

 

My children are now 17, 14 (well, in a month) and 11 (in two months)....and I'm still waiting for "it" to get easier!

 

I tell new parents the truth...it gets "different" not easier...and in my opinion, definitely harder! Sometimes I long for the days when a bath, a diaper change, a warm bottle and a snuggle was all I had to do to make things right in her world.

 

Too bad I can't hand my teenage daughter a clean pair of panties on her way out of the shower, dust her with some baby powder, prepare a warm cup of milk and plop her in the rocking chair until she drifts off to sleep. If only life were still so simple.

 

I'm just hoping I'm better prepared this time around with the youngest one...she's the dancer. Except as MickeyFan stated, I too tend to want to fix everything. The two oldest are always telling me "I can handle it myself, mom." The youngest doesn't tell me she can handle it, she just plainly DOES HANDLE IT....and tells me about it afterwards.

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Let this be your mantra (you too, DancesInHerSleep): "It DOES get easier!"

 

It really does. :blink:

 

Usually, by 17, you can see the change in your child, but how she navigates through the wider world's dangers will keep you up at night. :angry:

 

I've worked with a handful of kids -both as a tutor and in the Irish dance world - who were truly difficult teens, both through early and later adolescence. They turned out fine :thumbsup: but their adolescence was more extended than most. One in particular stands out. I never thought she'd mature - she was wild, wild, wild, with erratic mood swings from 12 - 17 - but now, at 18, she's suddenly calmed down considerably. She's able to focus totally on her dancing again and doesn't burst into tears with every correction. In her case, it was a long haul but she's come through that tunnel as an absolutely lovely young woman. It's a delight to see her new maturity.

 

"It really DOES get easier. It really DOES get easier. It really DOES get easier."

 

And it's worth it. :P

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it was a long haul but she's come through that tunnel as an absolutely lovely young woman

 

It's that the most wonderful thing. I am also in education and situations like this are the most rewarding there are! :)

 

Which is the very reason that I have hope for the cheerful, "never-moody" daughter to return to the body that is currently inhabiting my house. I'll miss her why she's gone, though. :(

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Whew! Am I glad to read some of these posts -- I sometimes believe that spawn of an alien has inhabited one of my kids. I agree with the post that says that it does just get different, not easier. The main difference for me is that when my kids were babies, I wanted to run away and now I want to send them to an away school! :)

 

Honestly though, it is very painful to watch my daughter writhing through her early adolesence. She is beautiful, talented, smart, funny, playful, and very angry and disgusted. I remind her occaisionally that I am her biggest fan and her main advocate and then I try to back that up, help her out of her jams and make sure she's getting a good portion of what she loves.

 

It helps to be reminded that we are not alone as parents and try to think back to the time I thought that I knew it all, that my mother was a pain and that everything touched me on the most sensitive exposed nerve. And as discussed here...try to keep my big mouth shut! :(

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