A bad round at a dance competition can very quickly trigger the whole avalanche of emotions for a dancer. If dancers can’t handle the frustration, they’re very likely to quit. So how can you deal with a young dancer’s tantrum at a competition?
Why dancers get frustrated?
It all stems from a simple idea of perfectionism mixed with expectation. If a dancer goes to competitions and keeps winning, they may very quickly get used to it. In their head that may become a norm. So getting one step wrong in a choreography at a competition could be a “disaster” for them.
At that moment, the dancers are actually hardest on themselves. They will be upset, angry, annoyed and will lose confidence in a blink of an eye. Can you actually see where the problem lies here? Yes- it’s the rigid expectations dancers create in their minds!
Tackle them, and you will help a dancer deal with the frustration and anger!
So what NOT to do?
First of all don’t punish the kid because it doesn’t help! I’ve been there and done that on both receiving and giving sites. So if a dancer is already about to “pack up” and leave, the last thing they need is a mum or a teacher screaming at them to calm the hell down and threatening they will never dance again. Do you think you would calm down in that situation? Of course not!
Instead, let’s find a way to change the dancer’s rigid mindset on their own expectations.
Changing the mindset
Every dancer goes to a competition with an idea starting “I should do…” (win, get a trophy).
Hmmm and what if they don’t? Well, then they get frustrated and start throwing “toys out of the pram”. So once the dancer identifies what their “shoulds” are, they need to let go of them. Easy to say, right? To be honest, it’s one of the hardest things to do as they’ve been developing that way of thinking for a long time already.
Before competitions I set every one of my dancers a list of tasks, small objectives I need them to focus on. These could be:
– count the music
– no looking down
– strong frame
– smile etc.
Now instead of thinking of the outcome of the competition and the need to win, they think of the tasks which they can actually control.
What to do when the dancer is in the middle of a tantrum?
Don’t focus on their screaming or crying or being angry. Instead, find their reasoning behind the mistake- why they feel that way. Then you need to help them focus on the “now” and let go of that “bad round” which is already in the past.
Let them cool down first though, because the last thing anybody wants when they’re angry is an over “caring” psychotherapist asking you a million questions!
After the dance competition, maybe the next day, ask your kid about the situation and what made them feel so upset. It’s also good for the dance teacher to know about it and they should address it as part of their coaching. That’s our job after all!