When Your Child Wants to Quit
You've paid for the shoes, the leotard, the tights, the bobby pins and bun forms, that cute crop top and dance short set they just had to have. They begged you to sign them up for classes. Then they come up to you months later saying they want to quit.
There's always something deeper going on. Here are a few reasons your child may be feeling this way:
They're not being challenged.
If a child is not feeling challenged, they tend to get bored easily. The best thing to do is have a conversation with your child's teacher and see how things are progressing with her/him in class. If your child is doing very well and may be ready for a bigger challenge, the teacher may suggest moving up a level. However, if it turns out the teacher does not feel your child is ready to move up a level and technique needs to be worked on, you may want to sit down with your child and their teacher about how to help him/her improve on their technique. Perfecting technique is always a challenge.
They're in the wrong type of class.
Maybe your child thought they wanted to be a prima ballerina, but it turns out they have an undiscovered passion for hip hop? Or maybe they are always peering in on the tap class in the other room before or after class and secretly wanting to give it a go? See if you can arrange a trial run with the studio director so your child can try another style or two. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding that perfect fit!
They're anxious about the year-end performance.
Stage fright is not an uncommon fear. Sometimes children say they want to quit to avoid having to perform. However, we have yet to experience a student who was anxious about performing and then regretted doing it. The year-end performance is a wonderful opportunity to bond with the other dancers, show off what they have worked so hard for, and make lifelong memories. Try having a talk with your child about the experience, or ask the teacher and/or other dancers to shine a light on their experiences with performing to help ease his/her anxieties surrounding it.
They're not showing up consistently.
Consistency is so, so important. If your child is frequently missing classes, showing up late, leaving early, or not practicing, this will place a lot of uncertainty and a lack of motivation in a dancer. They will feel behind and will have a harder time committing because they aren't consistently showing up and being involved. To avoid this, be sure to always have a plan on who will be bringing your child to dance and picking them up, have a ritual for dance days so there is structure around her/his dance schedule (i.e. an early dinner before dance class or a quick snack, homework, then leave for dance), and ensure there is no stress or negativity around getting to dance.
So what do you do now?
It's extremely important that we instill the value of commitment into our children. Just as when they join a sports team, when they join a dance class, their fellow dancers are like their teammates. While you may not want to deal with hearing them whine or complain, teaching them to fulfill their commitment is one of the best gifts you can give them as this will encourage and develop a sense of pride and commitment into everything they do. They are more likely to become dependable, responsible, and committed adults who follow through.
More often than not, when a child is made to honor their commitment, that original desire to quit fades and they end up happy they stuck it through. Even if they choose not to continue the next season, they will feel a sense of pride for sticking to their commitment.
Is it easy? No. Parenting rarely is. But we owe it to our children to teach them to be strong, independent humans that can follow through with their commitments. Remind them that this commitment is not forever and that they are allowed to quit when the season is finished, but that right now their friends are counting on them to be there and to be strong and see this through.
As a mom, I get it.
My kids have wanted to quit things before, too. Did I let them? No. They had to finish the session, season, etc. My girls know that when they commit to something, they are expected to see it through to completion. My oldest wanted to do soccer one year, so we signed her up for a season. She decided she hated it within a few weeks, however, this was something she wanted to do and she was told she would see it through.
There will be times when you will want to rip your hair out. You will just want to throw your hands in the air and let them have their way. You just won't want to fight about it anymore. But remember, you are the adult. You are the parent. And our children are depending on us to instill in them the values and skills they will need when they are on their own.
Be strong and know that you are giving your child a gift. They might not see it now, but one day they will thank you for it.