On Dance Class & Teaching Self Esteem

I’ve been tired lately, still trying to kick the virus that took me down a couple weeks ago. No surprises here, but I’m still working on Dracula. Enjoying it, but falling asleep at the drop of a hat. Here’s a little something different today.

“We’re looking for a class that will help her grow, so she could dance professionally,” Nick said.  Nick, Claire and I were touring the dance studio and asking questions about their program. I’m sure it’s not the first time the question had been asked, so the Director was ready with a response about the quality of their classes, the music they use and the moves they teach. It seemed pretty satisfying to Nick.

But I was a little unsure. I mean I’m happy to have Claire in a quality studio with good music and no inappropriate dance moves. But what am I looking for in Claire’s dance education? Were we looking for a professional-level education? Why were we looking to put her in dance class?

I do want to provide Claire with as many enriching opportunities as possible, so she can explore things that interest her. I want her to develop self esteem. To learn what she enjoys and what she’s good at. And I don’t want to limit her future abilities because I didn’t encourage her early on.

Research has stated that children who are involved in sports (and I consider dance a sport) have higher self esteem. I don’t strictly believe that; I think that’s only the case with kids who are good at the sport. The others–the benchwarmers or, worse, the kids who often embarrassingly play equal time–are probably resentful, sad or thinking about something other than the activity they’re involved in.

Then there are the activities in which all participants get a trophy. I’ve always thought it would be better to not waste money on the trophies and make it cheaper for kids to participate. Building a kid’s self esteem is a worthwhile endeavor, except when you’re rewarding him or her for something he or she isn’t good at. What happens when that kid faces a real challenge? Does that cause a self esteem crisis?

As a child and teenager, I was a fast sprinter. I did build a lot of self esteem because I won a lot. I sometimes wonder if that esteem alone is what carries me through the day or what portion of it exists still to this day.  What I know I took from that experience is an understanding of my own strength and determination. And, I suppose, a certain amount of self esteem solely based on knowing what I was capable of when I put my mind to it.

Encouraging Claire to explore and find what she’s good at seems to be a great way to help her build self esteem and find out a little more about herself. Additionally, activities like dance teach some much needed coordination to preschoolers, including some of the skills she’ll be tested on before kindergarten. Hopefully she’ll also learn some good skills like determination and dedication. And, if she becomes a professional dancer, then I can be satisfied that Nick and I helped her get there by putting her in dance early.

What do you think about kids’ activities? Is it to help them build self esteem?