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Overcoming Shyness

When my daughter was three years old, she used to pretend to be a ballerina. She loved ballet so much that I made her a ballerina costume for Halloween. Well after her plastic pumpkin was empty, she played in that costume until it was ragged. Her father and I enrolled her in the first dance school that called us back. She was one of three giggly four-year-olds. They had a blast and performed at their first recital with big smiles on their faces. Unfortunately, the other two girls were not as serious about dancing as my daughter and they dropped out after their recital. We could not afford private lessons, so my daughter continued to dance at home.

We called the other schools we had called before and we got a call from another local studio. My daughter was so excited every Saturday morning to go to her lesson. But for the first few weeks, she would observe a little and then run to the side, sit and sulk. The instructor or one of her assistants would pick her up and bring her back to place. After the fourth class, my daughter cried that she wanted to quit because the other girls were better than she was.

The other girls had been there a whole year before. They knew a different set of steps than my daughter had learned up to then. She was lost when the name of a step would be mentioned and the other girls knew what it was all about.

I bargained with her to try to stick it out until after the recital. I explained that the other girls learned different steps than she did the past year and that she could learn them, too. I told her that if she still wanted to quit after the recital, I would let her.

Lo and behold, my daughter started having lots of fun in class. She had a blast during the recital. Afterwards I asked, “So you’re sure you don’t want to take dance classes anymore?” She piped up with, “I’m having a good time, Mommy. I want to be in dance forever!” My little darling was in dance for nine years!

Let your child know it is OK not to know everything. Explain to them that they needed to crawl before they were able to walk. And they needed to walk before they could run. Afterwards, give them the power to make their decision to quit or not at a later date. Once children are given decisions they can handle, the pressure to resist is off. They relax, have fun and end up losing their shyness after all.

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