Dance competitions can be a total sensory overload! Crowds of people, flashy costumes . . . and the NOISE. Giggling girls, the low hum of the crowd, dance teachers shouting over the din, not to mention the booming music. It’s enough to put the most centered person into a tailspin!
I’ve written a lot about strategies to instill mindfulness and calm into competition day. There’s just so much going on that it can be difficult to stay focused. When you’re in a noisy environment — especially for extended periods of time — it’s tough to stay in the moment and get to a strong mental place. I mean, it’s hard for me to drown out the noise; I imagine it’s even worse for the kiddos.
Before heading out to the competition, I always have a frank discussion with my daughter about what to expect. Competitions aren’t like a normal day at the studio; they’re hectic and noisy and AMAZING. I think it’s important to set expectations with your little dancer, no matter her age, so she is prepared to handle the day with minimal meltdowns.
Tablets are a staple of our competition day. Having the ability to watch a show, play a game, or read an e-book on-the-go is an essential tool for us to keep the kids entertained and quiet during the flurry of getting ready and waiting before heading to the stage. Using headphones — or even better, noise-cancelling headphones — with the tablet will help minimize the outside noise and let your child live in her own little world for a while.
Noise-cancelling headphones in general are amazing. You’ve probably seen them at music festivals or local concerts on kids and babies of all ages. They are just protective earwear that eliminates most of the noise. I found they really help diminish background noise and keep my dancer focused.
With all this preparation, understand that once your child gets used to the noise at a competition, she’ll find her own ways to focus without distraction. Giving her some basic tools to minimize the noise will help her learn to cope in a variety of events in her life. Learning to develop mental stamina is another great advantage of competitions — aside from the fun and dancing, it’s really cool to see my daughter bloom as a well-rounded person from all the lessons learned at dance competitions.