As the parent of a dancer you support your child in so many practical ways—you manage hectic rehearsal schedules, act as chauffeur, backstage costume dresser, makeup artist, seamstress, hairstylist, set and prop builder and not to mention, financier. These are all important, but here are nine less obvious ways you can help your dancer be successful:
1. Check in regularly. Ask your budding dancer questions—what are their successes and struggles in class or rehearsal and how do they plan to solve or rise to the challenges? It’s important to do more listening than talking.
2. Encourage your kid to compete with themselves. Rivalry stays healthy if your little one’s fellow dancers inspire your dancer to be their best. Show that you care about great performing and personal improvement and that it’s not about outshining someone else.
3. Help keep dancing fun. Your dancer will struggle to overcome a plateau or disappointment now and then. Keep things light when dance training gets serious. Crack jokes if you have to but if dance is no longer enjoyable, investigate the reasons why.
4. Let your child set their own goals. There’s a fine line between encouragement and pressure to feel the way you do about performance and practice. Your young entertainer is not an extension of you. Give them opportunities to make their own choices about which stars they want to reach.
5. Trust the teachers and coaches. Rely on instructor feedback to help you and your kiddo see their talents and weaknesses realistically. Leave the coaching to the professionals so that you can focus on parenting your child through the ups and downs.
6. Let your kid check the checklist. Eventually a pint-sized performer must learn to do their own makeup and hair, be responsible for their own busy schedule and for having everything they need for class or shows, but by all means, double-check the checklist (just do it secretly!).
7. Model positive behavior. Appreciate others’ performances, offer congratulations and say thank you to teachers and staff. Treating people with respect and pointing out the positive in others helps your child recognize excellence in themselves.
8. Help your budding dancer keep it real. Get to know the dance world so that you can help your child keep things like audition results and their level of training in perspective. Also, encourage exploring other interests. Some day near or far, the role dancing has in their life will change; so help them plan ahead for that time.
9. Show you are proud no matter what. Help your child realize that wins, losses and even tedious everyday tasks are all part of being a performer and that the process is more important than the way things turn out.