Every parent wants their child to gain confidence and learn a special skill. As adults, we know what it takes to live successfully out there in the world and we want the best for our kids. When our own confidence is low or non-existent, even accomplishing the smallest tasks can be difficult.
If you are looking for a way for your child to become more confident and see improvement in schoolwork, relationships, self-discipline, and more, then look no further than the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre & Academy! We know that enrolling in our academy can bring many benefits including self-confidence. Just where does this confidence come from? We’re glad you asked!
Consistent praise and encouragement
Words are powerful. And most of us know how wonderful we feel when we are given words of affirmation, especially from someone we love and respect. A child who takes one of our dance classes is constantly encouraged and praised for the work that they do in class. This isn’t arbitrary. This is how we teach. Zing!, a nonprofit that helps kids with fitness and wellness, puts it this way; “Positive affirmations help kids gain confidence, contribute to a growth mindset, and help kids to truly believe in themselves. Kids need to hear what makes them special and strong over and over and over again”.
Dance isn’t easy. Even at the beginner levels, there can be difficult skills to learn. As dance educators, we know a key way for our students to learn these skills is to have confidence in themselves. Our teachers are skilled dancers but they are also gifted teachers who understand what a child needs to succeed and that includes praise and encouragement every single time they come to class . . . and over and over again!
One reason many parents bring their children to our classes is so their child can learn self discipline. They know that by learning dance skills such as ballet, they’ll have to work hard. Dance is a disciplined art form, and it’s not something most people can perform well without a lot of practice, determination and self-discipline. Even the gifted student who seems to take to it effortlessly has to have the determination and confidence to see it through. Taking dance classes is something that will teach a child to be disciplined in order to succeed. The best thing about this is it pervades other areas of their lives; schoolwork, music lessons, chores, and eventually, in their lives as adults in whatever profession they choose.
Aside from the techniques and movements, dance classes . . . also help teach students, early on, how to commit to something, follow a schedule, show up to practice whether or not they are in the mood, and ignore distractions ~ Cindy Kieffer
Every student has a different level of coordination. Just because a child may be a little bit clumsy doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take a dance class! In fact, it would probably help them learn coordination and discipline their bodies to move as directed. Dance is an athletic art form teaching kids to stretch muscles and move all 4 limbs together. Learning dance skills often gives children the ability to move more fluidly, and to be more in control of their whole person. For those of us who aren’t that coordinated, taking dance as a child could have been a huge asset to living and moving in life every day. Even the medical community agrees! There are pediatric physical therapy programs that encourage dance lessons for their patients to help kids improve gross motor skills, including coordination, balance, strength, and proprioception (knowing where one’s body is in space).
Developing Music Appreciation
Music is an intricate part of dance. The world is full of people who love music and appreciate it without being a musician themselves. At some point in their lives, they learned about music without having to play an instrument or being able to sing on key. They probably took dance lessons as a kid! One of the greatest things about dance education is that it also includes music education, and helps children develop an appreciation for music. One dancer called dance and music “inseparable twins”!
With ballet, there’s also a component of classical music education, which tends to be missing from the lives of most kids. And classical music has its own intrinsic value for our minds and mental health, but that might be a topic for another post! In short, studies show that listening to classical music can not only lower anxiety, but it can also make kids more relaxed, improve memory, make kids smarter, ease emotional and physical pain, and help us sleep. Combine the benefits of classical music with dance, and we just may have the perfect couple!
Improving Social Skills with Group Dynamic
Probably one of the most important ways dance can build confidence is by helping children build social skills. Being in a group and having to give-and-take and follow instruction from a teacher are great ways to teach young people how to live and thrive in the world around them. Life is usually filled with other people and learning how to work together with their dance partners is a great way for them to work together as a team as they grow up and become adults. An expert in group dynamics explains that “teamwork will help kids communicate with others, increase their social skills and self-confidence, and help them to develop into happier adults”.
Broadening Personal Space for Introverts and Shy Students
While this goes along with social skills and building confidence, it may be even more important for those kids who are introverts or very shy to be involved in dance classes. We’re very careful to make sure all of our students are treated equally and encourage those who are less apt to jump out to the front to be as involved as they can without causing anxiety. And since all of our classes eventually perform in front of an audience, the lessons are invaluable for learning how to have confidence on stage. These are skills that are priceless and can influence and positively affect a child for years to come.
It’s very interesting to note that Misty Copeland, principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in New York since 2015, shared with Time Magazine that she was quiet and shy as a child. She didn’t take her first dance class until she was 13! Those first lessons were not easy for her but she pushed through despite her shyness and has gone on to become one of the most premier dancers in the world including being the first black woman to become principal dancer at the ABT.
One thing to note here for those very quiet students; dance class can be an ideal space for them.
No one is considered “quiet” in a dance class, because everyone is there to listen to the teacher, to learn and to practice. For introverts, this environment can be liberating. The pressure to speak up is gone. All you need to do is dance. Catie Robinson
Science has shown us that physical activity makes us feel good or happy. This is because when we move our bodies as they were meant to move, our brain releases two neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness; endorphins and dopamine, the feel good hormones. While some parts of demanding physical activity can be strenuous and we feel some pain, when we’re done, we feel like we could conquer the world. Confidence is a valuable byproduct of enhanced mood!
Promoting Healthy Brain Development
Learning choreography, whether it’s super simple or complicated, pushes us to use both sides of our brains. We learn the technique (left brain) and then our body performs the dance (right brain).
All high cardio activities pump extra blood to muscles and lungs, but the focus needed in dance training also increases blood flow to the brain. The higher levels of glucose and oxygen are very good for a healthy brain. Additionally, dancing’s quick decision-making process improves and renews pathways used by the brain to communicate with its muscles.
There you have it! If you were on the fence about whether or not dance classes can help your child grow in confidence, you should be on the right side now! With time and effort and a heap of perseverance on both your part and your child’s part, you can see the growth you are hoping for as your student grows and matures over time. We hope dancing will be a big part of this growth!.
"I can do anything when I am in a tutu.” - Misty Copeland