Parents play a huge role in the success of their dancers, in fact, studies have shown parental behavior is more influential than raw talent and education. If you succeed at showing positive support for your dancer, they will have a positive experience, learn faster, perform better, have fun and increase their self-esteem. Here are five ways you can show your support.

1. Encourage your dancer to compete with themselves – Do not allow your child to compare their progress to other dancers and do not compare your child to other dancers. Dancers mature at different times so you cannot compare to someone even if they are the same age or have been dancing for the same number of years. Encourage your child to continue to strive to do their best and to compete against their own potential.

2. Let your dancer set goals and encourage their success – Avoid setting goals for your child. Letting your child set their own goals encourages ownership and increases their motivation to succeed. This also allows you to avoid the fine line between encouragement and pressure. Bottom line, their goals should be about their vision for success not your vision for their success.

3. Choose your words wisely – Children want to feel loved and respected so choose your words wisely. In his article, “What Parents Should Say as Their Kids Perform,” Tim Elmore gives suggestions on what parents should say before and after a performance based on psychological research. Before a performance parents should say, “have fun”, “work hard” and “I love you.” After the performance parents should say: “did you have fun”, “I’m proud of you” and “I love you.” Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller suggest a simple six word phrase to encourage your child. It would simply be, “I love to watch you dance.”

4. Help your child learn from failure – Some of the best inspirational stories of success came after many failed attempts and we owe it to our kids to teach them the value of failure. Failure should be seen as a way to receive positive feedback and serve as motivation to continue to strive to be better. Embracing failure allows a child to take bigger risks and aim for higher goals. Help your child learn to crave, and improve from, constructive feedback. Help them see that mistakes are part of life and you do your best to learn from the experience and move on. Finally, teach that taking risks will lead to greater growth. If you can help shape your child’s perspective on failure, they will not only be more successful in dance, but they will be more successful in life.

5. Model positive behavior – Be friendly to everyone including those seen as your competition and root for everyone to perform at their best. Offer congratulations for good performances and thank teachers and staff for their hard work. When exposed to this behavior, children learn to appreciate competition as a healthy way to improve their talents and see their peers are a source of inspiration and a healthy motivation to improve their own skills.

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