• The Reluctant Dance Mom

So, This is Your First Competition: How to Enjoy the Experience Together

Updated: Apr 3

Competitions are intense — I mean, that’s kind of the point, right? Our little dancers are learning valuable skills as they prepare for competitions: they learn to work hard, tighten their steps and smiles, and gain experience onstage that bridges to confidence in other parts of their lives.

The hardest part of competitions, even for the most relaxed dance parents, is to not allow the stress of a competition to seep into our kids’ brains. When we’re stressed, they’re stressed. Stressed out dancers will not perform well, but in the long-term, they may even decide to quit dancing altogether because it’s simply no longer fun for them.

While it’s important to keep your eye on the prize during competition season, also be sure to take time to actually enjoy this activity! There are many reasons, like those mentioned above, why your daughter is on a competition team — be sure that the number one reason is to have fun!

I was a bundle of nerves during my daughter’s first competition. I am pretty easy-going, but even I found myself frazzled and teetering on the edge of annoyance at the excessive noise generated by hundreds of excited dancers!

Before we both lost our cool, I made a split decision to take a step back and relax. I gathered our things and took my daughter by the hand. We walked until we found a special, quiet place in the convention center far away from the dancers and noise. We lucked out in finding a hallway with a window overlooking the center’s gardens. We snuggled together on her blankie, enjoyed a delightful meal of chicken tenders, and talked about the birds we saw outside. It’s one of my most treasured memories because we had the chance to just be.

When we rejoined the rest of the team, my daughter (ok, and myself!) were like new people. We felt healed, renewed, and re-energized and ready to tackle the stage. Her team performed their little hearts out! I really feel like this moment of centering was essential.

Tips to Find Joy at Competition

Walking away for 30 minutes is not always feasible. Here’s a few other ways to get your daughter centered before taking the stage:

Breathe deeply. Even just five minutes of the two of you matching inhales and exhales can help ease anxiety.

Listen to music. Create a playlist and hand your daughter some headphones so she can zone out and listen to a favorite song for a few minutes.

Keep smiling. Utilize whatever strategies you have to keep your cool so that your daughter sees you smile. When you’re calm, she will be too.

Overall, remember that competitions are meant to be a fun challenge for your daughter and her team. This is an enjoyable hobby for you, so make sure to always keep it light and positive!

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