Over the years I have had so many parents so concerned with whether or not their child will actually perform in a recital, show, or program. "Miss Kim is going to teach a class full of 15 three year olds to do the same exact thing at the same exact time on a stage in front of an audience full of glaring parents???"... sound unrealistic? There is one very important difference... I expect them to do it. Never will you hear me say "she is not going to do it" or anything like that. Saying that is the start of the problem. Parents voice their expectations of failure and the children will do exactly what their parents expect from them. Believe me; I catch myself doing it with my own children. Do not do it.

Countless times parents bring their little ones to dance class in their arms and the first thing they say to me is "Jane is really shy and scared - I think I should come in with her". Right there they just took any power that Sally had right out of her. Moms vocalize their expectations (or lack of... maybe so they will not be so disappointed themselves) and their children's ears are wide open. I can tell immediately if a child is truly shy and needs her mom, or, if she is just playing her mom like a fiddle.

When dance class begins you will find me bent down at the door to my room ready to greet my little dancers. Why do I do this? First I want each child to see a smiling face that is happy to see him or her. Second, and more than anything, I want that child to walk in that room all by herself... without mom. Why? It gives that child a sense of security that they can do this all by themselves. It is also "their territory". There are some children that need their mom to come in with them, sit and watch so they know this is a safe and fun place to be. There is nothing that makes me prouder than to see a little one who previously had a hard time walking in all by herself, put her bag up, get on her number, and wave bye to Mommy.

I recently performed "Miss Kim's Nutcracker" with my day care dance students. It was so much fun, but a huge undertaking. Almost everyone performed... I had a couple little ones that escaped to Mommy but that is ok. There was one little girl that just made me cry right on stage. She is always well behaved, great listener, and she loves dance class. It was her groups turn to perform and she looked out and saw all the people. She continued to dance but covered her eyes, and kept dancing. That is what I call determination. She worked through her insecurities and handled the situation of being overwhelmed in the best way she knew how... "just cover my eyes and they won't be there"! That touched me so much. Now... what do you think she would have done if her Mommy was right there... you got it... run right to her and then she would have never gained the experience of figuring it out on her own.

My youngest son Walker is a prime example. Yes, I am guilty of smothering him with way too much attention... I admit it. Before he performs on stage, at church, or school I hardly mention it. I do not blow it up to this huge expectation that he may feel he could never accomplish. I simply tell him that today you are going to... and Mommy and Daddy are going to have so much fun watching you. I know that it is best if I am not around beforehand because that would totally mess him up. During his church choir performances he has dropped his hand bell, growled at other children, and kept his hands down his pants the entire time. Needless to say, he is entertaining to us and everyone else in the church.

Parents, have you ever noticed how well your child behaves in that type of situation or in a classroom, and then we go and get them and they just totally fall apart? Why is that? Well, I seem to think it is their comfort zone; they are free to release emotions. Just like when we moms have a very hard day and we finally see our husbands and fall apart... either by yelling or screaming at them (we never do that do we?)... or just wanting them to hold us. I feel like it is the same with children.

So, the next time your child starts something new, remember to allow them to do it own their own. I know you want to see everything that is going on, but the reward of watching your child do something all by themselves, and allowing themselves to enjoy what they are doing, is far more rewarding than hearing "Mommy....don't leave!" over and over again.

Miss Kim
(Kim Black)

Author's Bio: 

"Miss Kim", aka Kim Black, has taught tap and ballet for 22 years, mostly to younger dancers. Visit her web site and blog to read more, or to purchase her Creative Movement DVD - Pretend with Miss Kim! www.MissKimDance.com