Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers
GingerMomma519

Ballet/Behavior/School Balance

Recommended Posts

GingerMomma519

Hoping someone here has had a similar experience and can help! This isn't 100% dance related, but maybe it is, I'm not sure.  DD dances 6 days a week at (almost) 9 years old and is in 3rd grade. That's a combination of class and rehearsal. I know it's a lot of dance but unfortunately the school she goes to calls for it if the student wants to be taken seriously and there's not much I can do to change that. 

Lately she has been acting different from her usual sweet self. She's been full of teenager level attitude. We've discussed it with her over and over and over again. Saturday evening she decided she didn't want long hair any more and snipped a tiny bit of hair in the front of her head (trying to give herself bangs?). I, of course hit the roof, and spent about 30 minutes lecturing her. But then we had a good rest of the day and she was back to her normal sunny self. Then by bedtime she was back to the surly teenager routine. 

Then today I'm sitting at work and I get an e-mail from her teacher. Her teacher is shocked because she asked DD to type up her creative writing piece. She was given 3 40-minute writing periods to type it up. Today when the teacher checked, she had only a few sentences typed. Her teacher was so shocked that she asked DD why, DD couldn't/wouldn't give a clear reason. As her teacher said, this is really different behavior for DD. She is a rule follower, and always listens to her teachers. So this was a shock to everyone. 

Last week I found out she had been having breakfast at school despite eating plenty of breakfast at home. When I asked her about it her first reaction was to deny it until I showed her the account statement. Then she fessed up that she was going to breakfast because its the only time she gets to see her best friend who is in another class this year. 

My knee jerk reaction here is to think that this behavior is related to the stress of dancing so much. I asked her several times a week if she wants to cut back on dance, leave dance, is she still happy, etc. So she has all the opportunities in the world to tell me if there is a dance issue. I always get the same response. She loves dance, she doesn't want to quit dance, she doesn't want to take less dance.  I told DH that I wonder if she isn't acting out just to get me to punish her from dance. He thinks at 9 years old she isn't a sophisticated enough manipulator to come up with that idea. He thinks its just age-related "testing the boundaries". 

Has anyone else ever had this experience? I'm at a loss what to do. I've already told DH that I'm going to talk to her tonight. I'm allowing her to attend Nutcracker rehearsal but then I'm making her miss her last evening class to come home and type up the paper she should have done in school. Thankfully we have a break from dance from Wednesday through Monday for Thanksgiving. That's 6 straight days off of dance. 

I don't want to put all of this behavior on dance if it isn't really dance related. I guess I don't understand how a 9 year old can keep up that schedule, but she has done it for years a long with tons of other little girls at the studio. So maybe I'm overreacting and this is just 9 year old acting out to test the boundaries stuff. Any input? 

Edited by GingerMomma519

Share this post


Link to post
twinballerinas

Could something else be going on?  Maybe talk to her about her friends or teachers instead of just a general dance questions.  My 10 year olds did not act this way at 9, but each child is different and handles stress differently.  Now my girls do get hard to deal with when they are tired or hungry.  

Share this post


Link to post
Bavalay

...I too wonder if something else might be troubling her GingerMomma.  Is it time for annual check up with pediatrician?  I wonder if healthcare provider could help address some of the changes in behavior?

Share this post


Link to post
Line

I think her behaviour is linked to her dance schedule.

A 9 year old will not need that many days to become an accomplished ballet dancer.  3 days (maybe an extra day for a nutcracker rehearsal) at 9 years old would be considered an appropriate intensive level.  Refer to the ‘Training Guidilines’ for guidance.  I really think ballet burn out is likely if she is dancing this many days as an almost 9 year old.  It would be sad for her to miss out on all of the joys that ballet can bring as a teenager because she had too much too soon and can not maintain the momentum.

Childhood is fleeting.  I would cut back on the dance schedule and enjoy some time with  your daughter.  Help her find balance with family, friends, ballet, and academics.  She is young and there is plenty of time for ballet in the years to come.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Ballerinamom2girls

I would recommend researching some other dance schools.  An 8 year old, 6 days a week? That means her schedule will never change.  She's already at the max.  I would question the teachers motives ($$) if they're telling you she needs that much to be taken seriously.  Check out the age guidelines pinned in these forums.

Share this post


Link to post
GingerMomma519

Thank you everyone for the responses. I talked with her pediatrician this morning on the phone and explained the situation. He thinks its age appropriate rebellion and that its minor rebellion at that. He gave me some good ideas of ways to let her "rebel" while also keeping her from going off the rails. I mentioned the dance schedule to him. He said while it is very intense, he doesn't believe that there is a link. He said 9-10 years old is one of those ages where some kids will start the "tween" act early. Especially if surrounded by older children frequently (she is, her best ballet friend is 11). His suggestion was to give her clear consequences for her behavior and to allow her freedom to choose where I can. He also suggested that I stop allowing her to take paper and drawing supplies to bed with her. She's up on and off all night coloring and such. He said lack of sleep could certainly have a lot to do with the attitude to. His suggestion was nothing in the bed except her blankets and pillows. That way if she wakes up in the middle of the night she doesn't have easy access to an activity that will keep her awake. 

So I'm going to keep monitoring the situation. And look at where we can maybe skip a class here and there just for my own sanity, if not hers. I appreciate all the advice!

Share this post


Link to post
Bavalay

...you were posting as I was messaging you😊

Share this post


Link to post
GingerMomma519

Did your message go through? I didn't see it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Bavalay

Oops I sent to the wrong GingerMomma and just now included you in conversation.  I'm on a tablet and it adds to my errors.   I will message the other Ginger and apologize.  Moderators please delete this note after GinderMomma gets a chance to read.  Thank you!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Noodles

I am an 13+ mom, so please remove if needed...but I think the perspective of an older parent might be useful here so I am taking the risk of posting. 

My DD is 16 and has been dancing since she was 4. Ballet is her passion and she has sacrificed so much for it. My DD did not take 6 days per week of classes until she was 13. Naturally she always wanted more, but I felt that as her parent it was my job to keep a limit on it.  Young dancers still need time be a kid. The time comes quickly when they must be in ballet 6 days per week, leaving very little time for anything else. As dancers get older the demands and pressures on them increase, for both academics and ballet training, in the blink of an eye your dancer's days will be beyond full. Seriously!

 I would encourage you to explore the pinned topic here on age appropriate training and really consider what your DDs dance school is requiring of dancers. Quality ballet training does not require 6 days per week from a 9 year old.

Hugs to you on the behavior challenges, raising kids is tough, but I just wanted to share the perspective on an older ballet mom.

Edited by Noodles
Edited to correct age DD began 6 days per week, thought it was 12.

Share this post


Link to post
DanceDaddy

I saw some of that rebellion from age 8-9 in my daughter. And we still get some of that "tween" attitude at 10. But, I can honestly say that I'm truly liking 10. Sure, it's not as cute as age 4, but pretty daggone good!

Share this post


Link to post
GingerMomma519

Every now and then facebook memories shows me pictures of DD at 2 in her tiny little tutu and itsy bitsy bun because she didn't have enough hair to really pull it off. Those pictures make me incredibly sad. Lol. 

Thank you for giving me some hope for age 10. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Share this post


Link to post
Momof3darlings

At 9 years old, DD was taking ballet twice a week at a local small school.  She moved to 4 days a week at 11.  She was not doing 6 days a week until middle school thankfully to teachers who packed many dance classes into one day instead of spreading them out.  She was not on pointe at 9, and she was not in productions unless auditioned for as "extra" to the school. In other words, not required at that age.  I am wondering if this is simply too much for her and she is not equipped yet to tell you this.  

Here, we encourage to raise a happy, healthy adult who happens to dance not raise a dancer, so with that stated, what do you feel would help to raise a happy, healthy child right now?  

Share this post


Link to post
Eligus
22 minutes ago, Momof3darlings said:

what do you feel would help to raise a happy, healthy child right now?  

I'm a mom of a now 18yo DD who went to a ballet school similar to yours, with the same training requirements at a very young age, Gingermomma519.  I know I'm not a mom of under 13 dancer, but because my experience might be relevant, I'm posting here.  Gingermomma519 -- The above question, asked by Momof3 is really important.  It's a question only you can answer. 

If it's helpful to you, I can share what I did in such a situation, since my DD was asked to do a similar amount of hours at a similar age.....  I researched Olympic-level training; I read articles about the need for rest... and despite having no outward signs of stress that I could see in my 7/8/9yo, I decided that the schedule was too much for my DD to handle at that age.  Therefore, *I* set up a different schedule.  I talked with her about the day that was her "least favorite" and we dropped that day from the schedule.  We just did not go to class that day.  I did not call in her absence to the school.  I did not talk to them about what I was changing.  I did not make excuses.  I did not try to change the school's philosophy.  I did not ask for permission.  We just did not show up for class on that day for YEARS.  The day we "skipped"  happened to be Friday evenings.... which worked well because Saturdays were *very* long at this school (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).  We also refused to attend the "sunday" classes that were offered to a few at this school.  I reserved Sundays as a family day with time off from ALL activities.

Mind you, she *wanted* to dance that much, told me so, and insisted that she "needed" to...  She argued with me, told me she would be dropped from performances, told me she would have to face difficulty from the school founder in classes.  I told her that I respected the fact that she would face difficulty with this decision that I was making, but that I had researched the matter, and it was my parental opinion that days off for your body and muscles to heal (not to mention brain rest and stress reduction) were MORE IMPORTANT than the school's schedule and the teacher's opinion.  In fact, it was my opinion that the founder of the ballet school had not kept up with the nutritional, educational and physical training research that I had just finished reading about, despite the fact that I recognized the founder's ideas of training were based on the founder's best education and knowledge at the time.  In essence, I did my own research and disagreed with the ballet school's philosophy in this instance.  I told my little 8/9yo DD that I had to make this decision for her benefit, despite the fact that I knew it would be hard on her, but that I trusted her to handle the difficulty because *I* had her best interests at heart, NO ONE ELSE.

It was extremely hard on her.  She was publically humiliated in class; she was told she "would fall behind" her peers; she was told she did not have the proper work ethic; she was told she would "never make it"; she was reminded that if she "really wanted" to be a ballerina, she should want to dance "every minute" that she could; and she was told that the ones who had achieved success in the past had achieved such success ONLY BY following the methods established by the school. 

I still have guilt about allowing her to remain in this environment and am sure it affected her development (in not a good way).  But she insisted on staying at this school, telling me she needed the training they offered.  I agreed, but I also insisted that I had final say, and one of things she had to agree to was the hour limitations I put on her.  We reached a compromise.  I was willing to allow her to train at this school, but -- if I truly disagreed with something they required, if I thought the school's goals and my parental goals diverged -- she had to trust me to have her best interests at heart and my decision would stand.

This was very difficult on me, as well.  I was never sure that I was making the "right" decision.  On a DAILY basis, I had to counter the arguments and what I call the "negative motivation" the school (and founder) made and the consequential worries and fears engendered in my DD's (and my) head for YEARS (and still feel as if I am fighting those fears in her head).  It wasn't until my DD was about 11 or 12 and her peers were regularly suffering from overuse injuries and burn out that my DD and I were able to look back and feel more comfortable with my decision --- that was 3-5 years of extreme "worrying" on my part, mind you, wondering whether or not I had made the right decision, worrying about whether or not I was making a decision that "ruined" my DD's dream. 

But I tell you this --- I would make the EXACT SAME DECISION if I had to do it all over again.  I strongly believe that my decision to protect her mental and physical health makes her a better dancer NOW.  The fact that I placed her mental and physical health as a high priority allows her to listen to and respect her own body and mind now that she is an adult and makes her own decisions about such matters.  Plus, I think the decisions we made together when she was 8/9 taught her, viscerally, that goals others have for you can differ from your own needs... that's it might be necessary to "check your gut" about what is being asked of you.  A BUSINESS may not have your personal best interest at heart - they are a BUSINESS.  And while the business may have lofty, altruistic goals, what they are asking of YOU may not necessarily be what is best for YOU.  Not that that the methodology is "bad" -- just that it may not align with what you need.

I am not saying you "must" make the same decision.  I don't know you or your child's needs.   I am merely trying to give you courage to listen to your instincts about what YOU think is best for YOUR child.  Like education, ballet schooling is NOT a "one size fits all" approach. 

Share this post


Link to post
Ballerinamom2girls

I too cut my dd's hours/days at age 8.  She was doing 5 days/15-20 hours.  We switched to a "slow-boil" approach school with a 4 day/7 hour schedule.  She was even taken off pointe.  Best decision we ever made for her.  

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...