It’s winter - darkness looms in the early afternoon, the bitter cold snaps at your skin, and just seconds of being outside feel like a punishment. The winter affects everyone differently and children are no exception. As a parent, you may silently rejoice when your dancer whines, “but do I have to go to dance class tonight?” and give in without much of a fight in favor of a movie night in, cozy sweatpants, and a glass of wine.
On occasion we all need a night off, a mental health day, or time to regroup. Please make no mistake this is not what this article is about. Rather, this article is about the growing number of children that haven’t learned to - for lack of a better term - ‘suck it up.’ This may be a controversial statement to make, but I am not talking about truly harmful situations here - like dancing through an injury, true psychological issue, or in any kind of bullying. We’re talking about children going through temporary bouts of feeling unmotivated, a little lazy, or even a bit burned out.
It’s a slippery slope if you give in - it starts with a song and dance about not wanting to go to class. I’m too tired, it’s cold, I don’t want to get in the car. Then it manifests to other things - I don’t like this dinner, I want macaroni and cheese. I hate the dentist. I’m not doing my chores. I don’t want to go to school today. I’m willing to bet if you let your children get away with doing nothing EVERY time they said they didn’t feel like it, nothing would get done.
There are lots of things that even as adults we don’t want to do. Do I light up with joy thinking about going to the doctor? Cleaning my toilets? Waking up early? Paying bills? No, but I do them anyway without dragging my feet (at least most of them time). As an adult I am not motivated 100% of the time, but by working through moments of boredom or tension, trudging through tasks or activities I didn’t want to do at that precise time, and putting my head down and getting stuff done as a child I learned the difference between genuine dislike of something vs trying moments that are worth working through.
We often talk about dance class being about more than just dance instruction - it’s about life lessons and here’s a BIG one! Even if getting your dancer in the car to go to dance class in the winter feels like a trek across the Sahara, chances are as soon as the music turns on they’re so glad they came. I hate to tell you, parents - but most of the time children save their best drama and sass for you.
Use dance class as a lesson for your child about commitment - what it means to make a commitment and what it means to follow through. Teach them about work ethic and how nothing worth having comes easy. Teach them how to live responsibly by reminding them their classmates and their teacher are counting on them to show up. We don’t always have to “feel it” but we have to push through together. You’ll thank yourself as your dancer ages and the temptations to back down on our commitments grows during middle school, high school, college, and even as young adults enter the workforce.
So the next time your dancer opens their mouth to say they’re too tired, bored, busy, [insert excuse of the day here] to do what you know is the right thing to do, make sure they show up anyway.