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envious dancer


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Hi--I would like some suggestions for talking with my DD (11 years old) on how to deal with feelings of jealousy towards other dancers in her class.


My DD is a very good dancer, and gets appropriate attention when she needs it at her pre-pro school. However, if a new girl comes in and gets more attention, she really goes into the tank and seems very unhappy about dance. She carefully notes which dancers get placed in which lines in class, and feels down if she is not in with who she judges to be the better dancers in the class.


I have told her that dance is not a competition, that there will be times when some dancers shine, and others must take a back seat in class for a while, and that she needs to come to terms with these rather unpleasant feelings, but I don't think I really get through to her.


Is this a common or is my daughter just overly competitive (and immature?). She is really a nice kid and in school and never begrudges anyone else's success, so this attitude around dance puzzles me.


Thanks for your help!

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Hi Glynis,


I am the mom of an 11 year old as well. It's great that your daughter feels comfortable talking about these feelings with you. I would try to keep the lines of communication open and empathize with her, letting her know that you are sorry she's experiencing these unpleasant emotions. After all, nobody enjoys feeling jealous. I would just let her know you love her and that it pains you to see her tearing herself up inside. Perhaps share with her your own coping strategies when you feel jealous and ask her to brainstorm with you regarding how she can help protect herself from being eaten up by envy. I've found that sharing my experiences of feeling envy has sort of humanized the emotion for my daughter. She is able to say to herself, "Here it comes again" and not be taken over by envy when it strikes. I'm also very careful never to compare her to other dancers. Even innocuous questions like, "Was anyone able to do that combination?" or "Which line were you placed in today? What about Jane?" would undercut what I'm trying to convey to her: that she is my focus and I am proud of her regardless of how she "measures up" to the others in class.


Hope this helps a little. You're definitely not alone, and it's a great issue to raise on the board!





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Hi Boxwood girl:


Thanks for the good advice--positive modeling and sharing similar experiences, are good suggestions for getting kids through these phases.


I will be very careful never to compare my DD to other dancers ("comparisons are odious" as someone once said) and to be sympathetic to her expressed feelings.




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Kids tend to 'naval-gaze' around and through the teen years, and this is a great time to help her redefine the reasons she dances. When she comes home grumpy from class and says that SusieQ got all the attention today and she's upset, you could try a few things :


1. Challenge her- "Oh honey, I just hate to see you so upset. Why don't you just quit dance!" or stronger, "So quit."


2. Repeat her statement back to her in question form; "Oh. So SusieQ got all the attention in class today??" and see where she takes it from there.


3. Simply ask her, "Why do you dance if it makes you so unhappy?" or "Do you only dance so that you can feel like 'the best', or are there other reasons?" or "Is it ok for others to have the spotlight as well as you?"


I also agree with the things Boxwood said- great advice!

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