Sometimes dropping your dancer off for dance can be stressful because of SEPRATION ANXIETY! Yes, this is real and is totally normal for children upto 5 years old. This can also be hard for parents or the caregiver as well.
Is your child upset (or maybe the parent), sad or even mad when they are separated from you? Maybe they just don't want to go to dance because they will be away from you. Dance is such a fun experience and so much is learned as an individual and with friends. Let us go through some tools to help you through separation from your sweet dancer and how to enjoy their dance experience.
Prepare your child for separation from you. You can practice small time periods of separation. Practice saying good bye with a happy face and letting the child know you will return. Start with 15 minutes and then move into longer time periods. When you return, make sure to tell them how proud you were of them and spend a few minutes playing with them. Reassure them that you came back!
Show Trust in the teacher and environment you are going into. Make sure your dancer understands you are happy about where they are going. Re assure them that you really like Ms._______ and it's going to be such a fun time. When you arrive, tell the teachers hello! This shows your dancer you trust where they are going. Reassure your dancer the teacher will take good care of them. Vocally prepare them for getting ready for class at home, going to class, being in class and then going home after class!
Calm, Consistent & Confident Goodbye's. When telling your dancer goodbye be happy and not stressed out. When you say your goodbye make it quick with little kiss or wave. Try not to stay around where you dropped them off so that you create more distress on the dancer. Be confident in telling them goodbye and that you know they will enjoy their time dancing and being with friends.
Arrive a little early! At MC Dance we have story time with the teacher or assistant teacher on our pink rug about 3 - 5 minutes before class starts. Encouraging your child to sit on the rug with other dancers to listen to the story starts the separation process. This is also an opportunity for you to say a quick "how fun, sit and listen to the story with your friends" and then you can find a place nearby to watch. Your dancer will start to trust that you are not going anywhere! When story time is over let the teacher bring the dancer into class as you sit calmly in the waiting area. Let them go into class with out another good bye or interaction with you.
Class Ritual Before & After. We all thrive on a routine!! So does your dancer. Start a fun little ritual before and after class for you and your dancer. Maybe its a special snack after putting your tights and leotard on at home. Listen to a special song on the way to dance, such as Hop Little Bunnies! (This is done in class). When you get to the studio make sure they have gone potty. Then make your way to the pink rug. After class, greet them with open arms and big hug that says GREAT JOB & I LOVE YOU!! Ask what they learned and to show you. Don't rush to leave the studio. After class you might listen to their favorite song on the way home and give them their favorite drink or snack. Create something fun for you and the dancer.
Have someone different bring them to class. Getting dad, grandma or someone else to bring them to dance class can also help them in the transition. Again, make sure you reassure your dancer that you will meet up again when they return and you can't wait to what they learned.
Dance right after nap....NO! Try not to have your dancer take a nap then head straight into dance class. I don't know anyone that wakes up from a nap or a nights rest ready to GO!! We encourage at least 30 - 45 minutes of awake time before getting to dance class. Take the nap after dance class.
Remember, that proper snacks, rest, not rushing to class and not showing signs of stress can really help your dancer enjoy class. We always have cameras on in our classes so you can sit in the lobby and see what your dancer is doing in class. We encourage you to never open the door to interrupt class if you do see your dancer upset in any way. Our staff is trained to handle these situations and normally we are able to get a child to participate and have a great experience. If it persists, we will get with you and come up with a plan custom to your dancer. Remember that dancers under the age of 5 can sometimes take upto 6 - 8 weeks to feel comfortable and confident to go into dance class and participate fully! They are still little some need a little more time to adjust.
If your dancer persists with difficult behavior or separation anxiety please visit with the teacher or Ms. Maggie so we can help you and your dancer through the process.