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Lack of interest or needed break? Losing focus?


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My DD loves to dance, but once she turned 14 it seems like another person took over her body. She has started to complain about going to class and seems to not be trying as hard as she did. She complains about the daily grind, but loves to perform and does not understand why she has to practice to get there. She will come off stage and say I want to do it again, but complains all the way to class. Does anyone else have this trouble? She is very talented and it isnt just dance that she is getting lazy in, it is everything. Do you think it is a phase and she will outgrow it? How do I know whether to keep her on track or let her slack? :yucky::o

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I think her twin lives at my house! My DD 14, doesn't complain, lucky for me. But you could read her body language a mile away! Rolling her eyes, dragging her feet etc. I was feeling like she was in slow motion, and was developing early onset Alzheimers! I was to the point of telling her as she went out the door to not come home unless she remembered to take care of.........at the studio. I finally decided enough was enough no more questions, no more reminders. After a few "failures" of sorts, I left all up to her. No reminders, no how was dance etc..........Much better these days. Good Luck. It will get better. Just the age. Went through the same stage with my son now 16.

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I went through that with my son at age 12. He loved dancing, loved the classes (would have to tear him away from the studio to get him home), but the problem was motivating himself to get ready for class. It was a nightmare. Something changed this year (one year later). I did not even have to tell him to get ready for class. Maybe a change in the class environment (new school)??? I don't know. His whole attitude about going to class changed.

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Many serious ballet students may go through periods of self doubt or the realization that the study of ballet is incredibly difficult and it may be a bigger challenge to find a job than can support the dancer in the manner in which they live at home. It can be scary for the student.

 

Another hump a student must forge is the urge for further information. Since the mind tends to develop more quickly than the body, students often can become impatient with the process of waiting for the body to catch up. Unfortunately this impatience can sometimes seem to be shown as boredom.

 

My suggestion is to let it pass on its own. Try suggesting that perhaps the student may need to take some time off from ballet. A student can still love ballet, but just not want to pursue it at a high level any longer. Sometimes this break may be a few weeks and for others it can be the point of no return. Serious ballet study is not for everyone and that is okay. What is really important is that your students are happy and healthy with their choices in life.

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I think it's pretty common for a 14-year old. I'd let it lie. You say it's not just happening in ballet but in other areas of her life, which makes me absolutely sure it's just a developmental stage in her life. What you are describing is classic 14 year old behavior. Many, but not all, kids this age go through this period. It's hormonal and although all kids experience some degree of it, there's a group who can be really challenging.

 

I was like that as a 14 year old although my own daughter was not -thank goodness - because as an adult, I realize how awful I was to be around. :wink: My grades dropped, I lost interest in everything, I quit guitar lessons, and I just hung out with friends. All I cared about were social issues. But, as with most kids who go through this, I came out of it and in fact, I think I came out stronger. And I started guitar lessons again :)

 

I don't know how regimented her life is, or her perception of her life might be, but make sure your daughter has choices. Often kids this age who are suddenly sick of everything are really telling us that they're tired of being treated like kids. Their bodies are changing and they don't FEEL so much like kids anymore but they're not quite adults either. Those are scary feelings. One way to help kids through this stage is for the parent to recognize that they're going through this individuation period and need to have areas where they feel in control rather than their schedules controlling them.

 

So now's a good time to start asking questions instead of doing what most of us do with our kids: being their daily organizer who reminds, reminds, reminds, tells, tells, tells. It's time to change over to asking. Ask how she feels about her current schedule, ask if she thinks it's too much, ask what she enjoys most about her daily life, ask if she thinks that, despite all the daily ballet grind, it's all worth it for the performance at the end. Ask what you can do to help. Ask if you're doing too much.

 

Ask your questions without deciding how you want her to answer. LISTEN to her replies. Consider them. It can be hard to hear our kids telling us how they feel or what they think, especially if their ideas are different from the ones we've had for them. As moms, we often get on a role of being task master, a necessary role, so we can get through the maze of our days in reasonable order. But 14 is when kids chafe at all this and it comes out in all kinds of forms, one of which is to feel exhausted at whatever it is in their lives that's immovable- - like ballet classes.

 

Often by freeing up other areas of their lives, they can find their love of ballet again. Sometimes it's ballet they need to give up so they can feel their love of other parts of their lives again. Our job is to let them make these choices.

 

But it may also be that your daughter just needs you to be there so she can vent. At 14, there's an awful lot of new feelings and thoughts tumbling in from everywhere and so it's not surprising that kids would feel like their whole lives are rocked - they are! So tell yourself that you are now taking a course on how to ask questions and how to listen, without commenting, and do all your practicing with this 14 year old. She'll appreciate it and it may be just what she needs to tide her over till she's used to her new self.

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Thank you all for your replies. They help me to see that this is a stage to her and something that I must just hold on a ride it out. It helps to know that eventually there will be light at the end of the tunnel!

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Guest Vicarmac

Who Cares? That was my favorite phrase for EVERYTHING at ages 13-14. To my parents, peers, and siblings.

Mine however didn't go thru it as much as I, a little foot dragging and shrugging but very little lost enthusiasm. But a friend of mine has a daughter who at 13 is very much all over the map in what she wants or does not want to do, whether it is dance or other things, and is very influenced by peers opinions on it. Very, normal and typical but her 19 year old was never like that so it has been a challenge.

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Just a thought--it may be her change in attitude is due to frustration. When my daughter was that age, she hit a plateau in her dancing that really made class discouraging. At the time, she felt like she had stopped improving and no matter how hard she worked it didn't seem to make a difference. In fact, it some areas, she had regressed (lost flexibility; trouble finding her center etc.). Researching on the internet, (in fact I think that is when I found this site :thumbsup: ) I helped her understand that what was happening was due to her physical development and that it would pass. I found an article on the challenge of the adolescent dancer that I shared with her and she found very reassuring. Even so, it was a tough tough time, and it didn't help that she is a bit of a late bloomer and saw her friends and classmates moving ahead of her. But she hung in there and kept working and it did pass. The past 8 months she has begun to surge. It's like her body is finally catching up with all of that hard work, and it is all coming together. But the plateau lasted more than a year and it really tested both her confidence and her commitment.

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Joyellen,

I think that you are completely right about the frustration part. She feels she is being held back in class and I think it is causing her to lose interest because she is becoming bored. I just am in the dilema of hanging in with the current school and hope that things change and become better, or finding somewhere that DD feels inspired again. It is a tough situation and I really appreciate your suggestions!

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When my kids are going through a rough phase with something - I tell them that they shouldn't quit during a *bad* phase. I encourage them to work a bit harder with a short term goal of say a month. Usually, by the end of that time period the extra focus has improved the situation - and when things are going well the kids rarely want to quit.

 

My eldest is only 17 - but age 14 was a rather difficult time as far as emotional adjustment goes - things have definately gotten *better* the farther a kid gets from that age!

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Maybe going to camp and dancing in a different environment will help her regain her desire and enthusiasm. If things are not going well in her classes, it's understandable that she would be frustrated. If things still don't get better in the Fall, she may want to take a break or lighten her load a bit. :ermm:

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I am just wondering if some of the lack of focus or interest is a result of a new understanding of the level of commitment required. My DD was jumped to a more advanced level for next year, she was thrilled about this, ready to commit ... However, this summer before going away was required to take classes with the more advanced group. The summer classes had a much bigger range than of upper level dancers than she will be with in classes next year, but she came home from these classes very discouraged.

 

When I think back on her shift in attitude - she is gone now so I can't check it - I am wondering if some of the discouragement was the realization that she still has a long way to go. Although she was not a 'star' dancer, she has been in the top of cluster of her class and readily progressed levels each year. This summer she found out how much harder the dancing was going to get and what this new commitment will mean. It's not that she didn't know this, but now she KNOWS what this will mean and rather than being at the top, now she is back at the bottom.

 

I don't know how age plays into this. DD is 13 and in the move up skipped one year of the 'standard' progression at her school, so will be with primarily 14 and 15 year olds. From the change in schedules for her and others I have seen here, this is a transition year that typically includes a jump in training, and is a time when I assume a good number of students drop out or just don't progress.

 

Now after all this rambling- I wonder if the lack of focus or discouragement could possibly be a little bit of fear of what is coming, and a new sense of understanding just what is going to be required. For my daughter when any doubt of her abilities creeps into her mind, she begins the sour grapes game of saying maybe this isn't really what I wanted or all it was cracked up to be. Thus beginning to shield herself from dissapointment if it doesn't work out.

 

This may not be the case for others DKs, but as I read this thread and drove DD to dance classes this summer and just packed her off for her SI, she seemed more ambivalent about dance than she was back in April.

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From my own personal observations with dd, it seems that reality hits about this time. As calamitous pointed out, this is the age where dancers start seeing the commitment level that will be required and the amount of work ahead of them. Personally, with dd, we never had the commitment problem, just the attitude of "not being good enough". Our dancers are so focussed and committed that the meer thought of failure is not acceptable so better to quit than fail.

 

I vaguely remember a thread about this a while back. Maybe someone remembers better than me. I will do some searching.

 

The topic of the old thread had to do with girls reaching an age where there is a certain amount of understanding of the real or not so real dream of becoming a professional dancer.

It was very enlightening.

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Now after all this rambling- I wonder if the lack of focus or discouragement could possibly be a little bit of fear of what is coming, and a new sense of understanding just what is going to be required. For my daughter when any doubt of her abilities creeps into her mind, she begins the sour grapes game of saying maybe this isn't really what I wanted or all it was cracked up to be. Thus beginning to shield herself from dissapointment if it doesn't work out.

 

Yes, there is a lot of code at this age :D My advice is to, when drawn into conversation, try to 'reframe': i.e. emphasize the possiblities and opportunities without emphasis on predicting the outcome.

 

Personally, I loved being in classes with dancers more advanced than I: I wanted that one's turns, and that one's batterie and that one's extensions. That environment fueled my imagination and fed my hunger...

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