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Ballet Talk for Dancers

DD feeling discouraged


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Hello, My DD has just turned 13. Our family is in a state of transition. Moving to a big city next week. DD is already there participating in a well known SI. She had trained at a small studio up until this point. She is feeling a little discouraged. I know she tends to be the type that is sensitive and we have a lot going on. She feels that the teachers there do not like her. She reports, one of her regular teachers for a particular type of class is always frustrated with the class and gets angry. She got upset with DD because she had 2 different spots in 2 casts of the same variation. She was placed by them that way but they were mad that she didin't say anything. She was used to filling in spots in casts at her old school. This morning she said a different teacher that had been ok up until now, yelled in her face.

As a mother this is hard, because much of our move was because of the opportunity of training here. We plan to have her audition for fall but she's worried about having negative teachers. I hope that this is just an down day or two, but it certainly discouraging. Only 2 weeks in on a 6 week SI.

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Not sure where you are.  Honestly if it's a well-known SI I am having a hard time imagining a teacher "Yelling in her face." That's just not good for a school's PR and most of the well-known schools I know don't do that.  That said, it's likely a bit of a mix of things . Your child's sensitivity, the teachers' irritation, being away from home.

Maybe try to get the facts.  Then you can make a decision. And it might be that there is a different style of interacting with students or there is actually yelling going on.

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I would second learningdance's advice to get the facts. Perception can cloud reality. I hope there truly wasn't any yelling in her face.

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It is so hard when our kiddos are having a hard time and they are away! 

I would echo what has already been said,  look for more clarification on the specifics of what occurred. Not to imply that your DD is exaggerating, but sometimes when we are stressed we mentally blow things a bit out of proportion.

I hope you get some clarity and that things improve for your DD!


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Children and teens often use the phrase, "_______yelled at me." Sometimes it's true. More often, the individual is feeling frustration and self-doubt and interprets as "yelling" anything the adult says that isn't praise. 

I just experienced this myself from the perspective of the adult working with a teen girl. Yesterday, her mom, who is in an adjacent room while I work with her daughter on literacy skills, told me that her daughter was frustrated with our sessions and told her mom that when she reads something wrong, I "yell" at her. Since the mom hears every word I say during our sessions ( over the past year twice a week), she knows that all I say, in a quiet voice, is "Check it," when her daughter misreads because I am helping this girl break habits. The girl and I have talked about this off and on, and she knows why I stop her every single time to go back and check the word, but her senior year is coming up, she's worried about school and knows she won't have all the skills she'd hoped for by September. She was expressing frustration with herself, a fact the mom automatically knew. I've found that's often the case. It's self-doubt, fear and frustration with self. This girl actually loves working with me and told her mom that. She just needed to vent. And I needed to hear her frustration so that she and I could have a heart-to-heart. It made me realize that I need to intersperse even more encouragement than I'd been doing recently because that is what this girl needs right now.

My daughter used to come home and say that so-and-so teacher yelled at her. When I'd ask her to qualify it, she would admit it wasn't yelling, but that it wasn't praise or direct encouragement which is what she felt she needed in the moment. And it IS true that it's a teacher's job to recognize that. But in a class full of students, it takes time to know them well enough to do so, and it's impossible to read every student correctly all the time no matter how hard you try.

That said, when daughter was twelve or thirteen at a well-respected pre-professional school known for its cozy atmosphere, several moms came to me one day when I arrived to pick up my daughter, to report that one teacher was regularly cruel to her in class. Daughter had stated to me that this teacher singled her out, but I didn't believe it. My kiddo was at a sensitive emotional stage and she'd "cried wolf" a bit. But then I heard the same thing over a period of a couple weeks from people who worked at the studio, individuals who didn't usually speak up. So I knew something was amiss. That teacher seemed to have a habit of picking a scapegoat for an entire year.

Now maybe she thought she was helping the student by focusing on her so much, but the reverse was true. I scheduled a meeting and spoke in a very non-confrontational way to that teacher, explaining the results of her attention. She got the message and improved somewhat. I told daughter to gut it out as this wasn't a daily teacher of hers. She did, and the next year the teacher chose someone else to negatively harangue. (Glad to say she's gone). 

So it IS important to listen to our children when they are complaining, and to understand the child's hidden message. Regardless of whether or not the teacher truly yelled, the dancer is making a statement about her feelings, and those feelings need to be honored even when there's nothing that needs to be said to the teacher or studio head.


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