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How to get my child ready for competitions and dance exams?

By Marcin Raczynski

Elena Anashina Photography

Competitions and dance exams are very exciting for both children and parents. After all, as a parent you spend a lot of time and money to get your little dancer do their best. But the question is how do you know if you're doing the right thing? Well, here you have 5 tips to put you ahead of the game.

1. Plan everything in advance

The preparation to the competitions and exams is not only for your child, but also yourself. Frankly, it requires a little bit more than just driving your kid to the next dance event.

Some competitions may last even a whole day so bringing the right amount of food and drinks with you is crucial. Especially as most of the bars and vending machines in the venues only sell unhealthy snacks. A box of healthy meal with carbohydrates and some proteins is certainly better for your child's performance than 2 chocolate bars and a pizza, right?

Dresses, shirts, trousers and shoes need to be prepared too. However, try not to do everything for your child. Instead, do it together at first and then give them more responsibilities to look after their outfits and shoes. At some point, they will need these skills.

Elena Anashina Photography

2. Help them with their anxiety

Before your child gets on the dance floor, they may feel a little bit nervous about dancing in front of others. Many thoughts may go through their head, some negative saying "I can't dance", "I forgot choreography", or "Everyone will laugh if I mess up".

Find an alternative saying with your child like "I'm super strong" or "I can do it". Every time the negative thoughts start creeping in before the performance, they should repeat these words over and over again. It should become their mantra.

You can also sit down with your child and help them visualize themselves on the floor: walking in like a champion, taking their position, inviting the partner etc. Teach your child to picture each step of the performance in their head. In fact, this is what many professional dancers do to overcome stage anxiety.

3. Stay calm

Ask yourself if the atmosphere of a competition or exam makes you excited or stressed. As a result of that, how does it affect your child?

Children want to do well in their performances and make you proud. However, it may take some time for them to learn how to deal with pressure of competitions and exams to keep their performance at peak levels. With that in mind, do you think your over-excitement will calm them down?

For some parents, the pressure is quite stressful so they choose to distract themselves during the competition or exam. You may decide to volunteer during the event or cheer for other dancers. Find a couple that you like the most and track their progress during the event. You may even want to praise them for it. Your child and other parents will notice such a positive attitude and that's what great sportsmanship is about!

Elena Anashina Photography

4. See more than just results

We know, it's a competition which means someone has to win or get better marks than others. Many young dancers tend to focus too much on the results. Very often parents and families do that too. How often did your child hear before the competition "bring a trophy home"? Instead of thinking about winning, help your kid focus on the things they can control. They include good warm up, right attitude, good effort leading to the competition or exam. These are the ingredients which will bring the results.

Some children get deflated and want to quit if they don't make another round or win a trophy. As a parent you need to give the message that if they put their mind to training and competitions, they will succeed. I have always found it useful to hear success stories of athletes who didn't do so well at the beginning of their careers like Michael Jordan (basketball) or Stan Smith (tennis).

5. It's about your child, not YOU!

We have all heard about pushy dancing parents. We may sometimes be like that ourselves but we don't want to admit it. Instead of putting your expectations at first, focus on what your child really wants.

The most encouraging parents promote sportsmanship and help set motivating goals for their children.

Provide a positive feedback, support the dance teacher and their decisions. Bring your child to dance practice not to give them an advantage over others but to develop discipline and sense of being part of a team.

When you put all of the above together you will create a perfect platform for your child to perform better and most importantly grow as a successful and strong person.

Photo Credits: Elena Anashina Photography


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