Whether you enrolled your child in a dance class to promote movement, expand on natural talent, or get your daughter involved in a fun activity, the most amazing side effect is the confidence many girls gain from putting themselves out there on stage.
But for the youngest dancers, stage fright is a really big deal (ok, it’d be a big deal for me too!). When we attend recitals or competitions, I’m always sure to bring along a familiar stuffed friend for my daughter to cuddle. Having something familiar, warm, and cuddly by her side is a sure-fire way to boost confidence before taking the stage.
But most of all — Never. EVER. Choose the stuffie you will take to the competition or recital! I heard from one of my dance mom friends that she learned this lesson the hard way! She packed up Snuggly Bear for her daughter when her daughter wanted Crystal Unicorn. Boy oh boy, did that plan backfire! Instead of providing a sense of security and comfort, she inadvertently caused more stress for her little one on dance day.
I’ve always encouraged Alessandra to take part in packing a bag for the big competition trip. It gives her some insight into the responsibility she will one day take on, and also empowers her to make some decisions on her own. Like, she gets to choose her casual outfits and pajamas, while I focus more on the “must have” costumes, make-up, shoes, and other essential performance items.
Alessandra takes the most time to choose her stuffed animal — we even made a game of it! My first criteria — and I can’t stress this enough — is to choose a stuffed animal that you’d be ok with accidentally losing or getting dirty. This was a tough conversation to have the first time we packed. I wanted her to understand that she shouldn’t take her blankie that she’s had since infancy, just in the off chance something might happen to it.
Now, she starts by lining up a dozen or so of her stuffed animals (shush, you know you have an obscene amount of stuffies laying around your house!). Then she tests them out to choose who gets to be her special guest for this trip. In all honesty . . . it keeps her busy while I do the real packing work!
I know some families who visited Build-A-Bear to make a special friend to attend competitions! They even have little ballerina outfits to dress the bear in, which makes it the perfect companion for a competition trip.
Whichever stuffed animal is chosen, know that it’s taking a special place in your daughter’s heart. She’s choosing a little friend to carry with her who will provide her with comfort when she’s feeling nervous. We all know our little girls have big emotions. Having something comforting from home will help big time.