Last year, my eldest decided she wanted to try ballet. Disclaimer: I am not currently a dancer, nor did I have any formal training in dance. But the world of dance did open up to me senior year in high school when I miraculously made the Poms Squad. After that, I’ve just been watching from afar because life happened. So when Ella told me she wanted to dance, I was elated! I remember thinking, “ok, do not force your dreams onto your 4 year old!”
So I was pretty sure that Ella wanted to do ballet because she loved the tutus. I mean who wouldn’t!?!? So going into the first day of class, I wasn’t expecting her to really get into it. But, as always, my daughter proves me wrong. She loved it! And I loved watching her follow directions! It’s one of those things where as a parent, you’re like “oh.. so you do know how to listen?” haha
So yes, what a great class! I was also very happy to be in company with other parents who are nothing like the moms in the show “Dance Moms.” Not gonna lie, I was nervous about that too. I’m not about the drama. But everyone there seemed like newbies too which was great because no one cared if their kids were in the back row or the front row or the sides. Whew!
Encouraging Her Hobby
Ella is only 4, so you can bet there were days when she didn’t want to go to class and just wanted to stay home to play with her baby brother. But giiiirrrrlllll, those classes are esssspensive! So we wanted to make sure she went to class, but at the same time, I didn’t want her to hate going. So here are some tips that I’ve learned in order to encourage her to keep going to class.
1) Listen to them.
Sometimes there are other reasons as to why your child may not want to do certain things. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like that particular hobby anymore. When you find out the real reason of why your child is saying “no,” it helps you to decide whether or not to try to encourage or to let them miss a class. In Ella’s case, most of the time, it’s because she didn’t want to stop playing with Isaac (her little brother). So sometimes we take Isaac to class with her (to watch her) or promise her that they can continue to play their game after class.
2) Don’t force your own dreams on them.
I mean I just love dance so much that I couldn’t wait for her to love dance! But I’ve had to check myself so many times because knowing that my child is a “people pleaser,” I didn’t want her to dance just because mommy wanted her to. So try your hardest not to push your own agendas. Just enjoy the times they are happy with their hobbies and make sure you’re there to listen when they are feeling discouraged.
3) Persuade when appropriate.
After carefully listening, and making sure that it’s not anything serious, there are times that you just need to give them a little persuasion. I mean they’re kids! Sometimes they just want to do other things. But it’s important to also teach them about responsibilities as well. Let them know that it’s important they don’t miss class so they don’t miss out on anything new that the teacher/coach may teach. You can also give them small rewards for going to class and participating the whole time. For Ella, on the days we see that she just doesn’t want to go and needed some motivation, we would give her extra time to stay up after Isaac has gone to bed. She loved that!
4) Pay attention and practice at home.
Part of Ella gaining confidence is when she knows what she’s doing in class. So when I see that there’s a move that she’s struggling with in class, I would take 5-10 minutes to work with her on it when she’s staying up. I think it’s definitely important to teach kids hard work. I mean you don’t have to go overboard and have a 4 year old practice for an hour or more! But if they learn early that hard work will help get them to their goals, then I think that’s a good start. (Note: Isaac even started to practice with her! Lol)
5) Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Ok guys, this is probably the most important one. Sometimes you wonder if you made the right choice putting them in class or paying tons of mula just for your kid(s). But life with kids is about trial and error sometimes. Give yourself a break. So they didn’t like dancing, or basketball or whatever class you paid for. At least they tried it. Next time, you’ll know better as to what they may or may not be interested in. So take a deep breath! You’re doing great!
It has been a year and the girls have worked real hard on their piece! I’m proud to say that Ella has stuck to her craft and has even blossomed into a more confident, beautiful little ballerina! I mean it’s only been a year but that’s a year longer than I thought she would stick with it! Okaayyyy??
And oh… my… goodness… I couldn’t be more proud of Ella! For some reason, I tend to make fun of the messes in life instead of boasting on the good that’s happening in life. But when I saw Ella on the stage smiling and performing her best, I couldn’t help it! I was that mom who showed her performance to anyone who would give me the time of day! Apologies to my gracious office mate who took it like a champ and let me dote to different coworkers. That’s how proud I was. I left my usual self-deprecating humor and complimented my child.
Remember, their successes are not only because of their hard work, but also because of your own encouragement and love. No, they don’t need your support to succeed, but it sure would make their journey a lot easier and less lonely if you were there for them. Rooting for their successes always.
Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!
(all gifs are from giphy.com)