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Is my dd/ds doing too much?


swe
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I couldn't think of a better title for this topic but I am really looking for views/support. Some of you may have read the thread I started on tiredness-well it turns out that underlying dd's tiredness, she had a chest infection which I didn't pick up on! Guilty mum! Despite this I have changed diet and tried to cut down on a few lessons over the last few weeks. My problem is the constant comments from parents/in-laws and to some degree friends who say she is doing too much. I think nowadays kids do lot of stuff out of school and I am definitely a taxi service but by very supportive dh always reminds me that she is 'training' ultimately and these are not just lessons for leisure. I also think about kids training for olympics etc. etc. who must go straight from school to train. My dd does 6 dance classes a week plus associates then there is singing and piano. I know every child is different but if I ask if she wants to give up anything the answer is always 'no'.

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Hi afab

She is 14 (15 in a few months).

I get really upset when I feel that people are judging us over what dd does and I feel that if she is ever ill we are made to feel it's because she is doing too much-nothing to do with picking it up at school!

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My view is that its very important for kids to have proper amounts of down time and not to be constantly doing activities that are focussed on achievement. It can of course work for some kids but as a parent you have to take a step back and work out what is right for your child. In the longer term the phyical and emotional well being of your child is the only important thing to set them up for a good life.

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I couldn't think of a better title for this topic but I am really looking for views/support. Some of you may have read the thread I started on tiredness-well it turns out that underlying dd's tiredness, she had a chest infection which I didn't pick up on! Guilty mum! Despite this I have changed diet and tried to cut down on a few lessons over the last few weeks. My problem is the constant comments from parents/in-laws and to some degree friends who say she is doing too much. I think nowadays kids do lot of stuff out of school and I am definitely a taxi service but by very supportive dh always reminds me that she is 'training' ultimately and these are not just lessons for leisure. I also think about kids training for olympics etc. etc. who must go straight from school to train. My dd does 6 dance classes a week plus associates then there is singing and piano. I know every child is different but if I ask if she wants to give up anything the answer is always 'no'.

Short answer is that if your dd is serious about the possibility of some sort of career in dance( and she must be talented to be on an associate scheme,) then no. she is not doing too much. Especially if she loves it. If she was at vocational school she would still be doing more - at least 15 hours a week depending on age as well as academics and even singing and piano! (My ds did both singing and piano at one of his vocational schools.)

 

But it is far harder to get sympathy if you are in mainstream education from teachers, friends and relatives alike. I remember my mums horror when I first started 2 hour lessons - bliss for me but she was always concerned that I was too tired bless her.

 

Incidently if your child wasn't destined for greatness in dance but simply loved it anyway then I would still say the same. I have many students who do a similar amount but who have no plans to become professionals. They and their parents see it as a valuable part of their lives, keeping them fit both physically and mentally with a cherished circle of friends which keeps them busy in the evenings. My GCSE and A level students say its a welcome break from revision although some do obviously cut down their dance hours at this time.

 

I am far more concerned for the many children in this area who "do" gymnastics, ballet, modern, tap, swimming, flute, violin, extra maths coaching, tennis coaching and even mandarin in on childs case (in addition to the list I've descibed!)

 

Its great that your dh is so supportive so do what is best for YOUR family unit and don't worry about what others say. Some people really do not understand the level of commitment required if dance, especially ballet is to be taken seriously.I really like your dh point that its training for a possible future and not just any old leisure activity!

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My dd does 6 classes a week plus piano, singing, and a shed load of homework Swe. I make sure she has one evening a week and Sundays free of dancing though.

 

Her piano and singing lessons are 20 minute lessons during school time though so they don't eat into evenings. Could that be an option for your dd?

 

Fortunately nobody has ever said to us that she's doing too much (well, not to my face!). But I do worry about her, especially as she's a naturally early riser. But if I suggest that she gives a class up, I get THE LOOK...... ;-)

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My first piece of advice would be to ignore all the comments. You, your dh know your daughter best and will always have her best interests at heart, so remember that first and foremost. My DD is a year older than yours and we have had the same comments over the years (especially the last 2) but now she atually has a place at vocational school for september the comments have all stopped and parents/inlaws/friends are so proud of her. I would however say to keep a close eye on your DD and the amount she does as year 11 is way more stressful for the academic side alone. And then you have the added pressure of auditions (and extra time off school and extra time to catch up work missed). My DD actually had less classes each week between October and March and has been missing some very relucatantly because of GCSE exams but I think she would have burned herself out otherwise.

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I think a lot of these comments are motivated by jealousy, or feelings of inadequacy, or a need to interfere, or....

 

We have had these comments made since DD was small. She dances, plays the piano, plays a LOT of sports and achieves academically, all at a high level. She has dropped cello lessons, football team (!) and drama lessons recently, having decided that these were not things she enjoyed as much as what she still does and also because she recognised that she needs to factor in some 'doing nothing' time.

 

As long as your child is happy and enjoying their activities, there is no harm in their having what some people would consider a full schedule. This is especially so for you as your daughter is training seriously and at her age I would have thought that she needs to be doing a lot of training to pursue that ambition. Sometimes children do develop infections/feel exhausted but then in all probability they would have done so anyway; as you rightly point out, your DD may well have picked up her chest infection at school and most teenagers have 'tired all the time' phases due to growth spurts, hormonal activity, etc etc!

 

Try not to let comments like this worry you. Your DD is working hard at something she loves and is given the chance to say if she feels it is too much. It really is no-one else's business.

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Hello everyone

Thank goodness for the forum! It is great to 'speak' with understanding people.

I agree we wouldn't get the comments if she were at vocational school and I need to ignore them but it is hard particularly when it is family. I found myself on the verge of cancelling associate class this week by listening to other people-I'm so pleased I didn't she is on top form again!

Thanks so much for the support x

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If your DD is going into year 11 next year I would definitely consider stopping the piano lessons for a while. It's not the lessons that take up the time but the practice, particularly when the child is preparing for music exams. I would also think about her giving up singing lessons for the same reason. If your DD has to sing for her 6th form auditions then she can have a few lessons to prepare for those nearer the time. I would focus on her GCSEs and her dancing and make sure that she does have some down time and plenty of sleep, if you can. That's my opinion. Others may disagree with me. Btw, plenty of idle children get ill too! Don't beat yourself up about your DD's chest infection.

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I've had comments like this too, people just don't seem to 'get' it.

 

My friend's son is a competitive swimmer (aged 13) and he trains every morning before school, every evening, and competes at the weekends. Everybody says, "Wow, he must be really good!" and totally understand the need for such commitment.

 

The very same people have no clue that classical ballet training for older children aiming for a career in dance needs just as much commitment. I sometimes feel that I'm banging my head against a brick wall!

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hi swe

i would say that you know what the limits for your child are, if your dh is supportive and your dd wants to do the classes then thats the only thing that really matters, personally 6 classes a week doesn't seem that much to me, if she is serious about being dancer then she may even have to increase the training depending if she wants to be a ballerina or all round dancer doing stage work which required more disciplines than ballet. my dd did 2 or 3 classes 4 nights a week on top all day saturday and then the music and academic studies and she had little intention of dancing as a profession but simply loved to dance.

 

my son swims for his country and we had 5am swim sessions 7 days a week and then 2 hrs after school each night and weekend sessions and competitions as well, looking back i have no idea how we did it all lol :)

 

go with your gut feeling if you think she is finding it too much cut back but if she wants to take it up seriously then she will be spending every spare second in classes ... while you wait on in the car/waiting room/costa coffee :)

 

good luck

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We get lots of disapproval from family and friends about 'pushing' our DD. We don't push her at all - quite the opposite - it all comes from her. I think the main problem is that people don't understand that ballet training is like any other sport training. Most people I know seem to think you just put on a pair of pointe shoes and off you go 'twinkle toes'.......sigh!

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I think the fact that you now know that there was an illness underlying the tiredness is reassuring in a way, in that it shows that the tiredness wasn't caused by simply "doing too much".

My DD is 14 and on an average week she does 10-12 hours dance and 1-2 hours singing lessons, more if an exam or show is pending, and she isn't planning on a career as a dancer.She has 1 or 2 days each week when she doesn't do anything. I've had the "doing too much" and "spending too much :rolleyes: " comments too, but as far as I see it, as long as she's enjoying it and keeping up with her school work then it's not too much. If either of those things were to change, then I would reconsider of course, but until then she can carry on. I'm glad my DD has an all consuming interest, whether it contributes to her future career or not. Much better than her spending her evenings watching tv, sending messages on facebook or hanging about in the streets like plenty of her classmates seem to do.

If your DD is on the mend, I wouldn't worry. Of course if she has recurrent illnesses or something you may need to look at her schedule again and see if it needs modifying, but I wouldn't be unduly concerned about a one off illness - everyone gets ill sometimes. Glad to hear that she's feeling better.

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I'm so glad to hear that your dd is feeling better swe, and that there was an underlying reason for the tiredness that has been sorted! I think you are doing just fine with her hours, so well done!

 

I work with people with chronic fatigue syndrome and I do worry about high achievers not cutting back when they have infections, which puts them at risk for post viral fatigue, or CFS. Prevention is usually about allowing the body recovery time during and after illness and we all seem to be aware of that on this forum :) Just sometimes an inaccurate CFS diagnosis turns out to have been the onset of an autoimmune diagnosis such as thyroid disease or lupus.

 

My ds does 6 dance/musical theatre classes a week, plus music lessons in 2 instruments. His music teachers know that the dance/musical theatre commitments are his priority and have got used to him cutting back on music lessons or practice when pressure mounts. You just can't do everything at a high level :rolleyes: . I have stopped nagging about music practice (mostly) as his down time can be difficult to find from anywhere else if he is in the middle of rehearsals for a show. Luckily he seems to enjoy his music as relaxation when in the middle of revision and academic exams, and he loves playing in band and orchestra as it is just another performing opportunity :rolleyes:

 

Good Luck to your dd now :)

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There's always Malcolm Galdwell's 10,000 hours theory, which whilst relevent in his eyes for those who become the very, very best, is a ridiculous number of hours once you divide it up.

 

So for most, even hald that is necessary to become good-expert.

 

I think such comments indicate some jealousy, but mainly a misunderstanding of how an 'art' needs as much training, if not more than a 'sport'.

 

Finally, and slightly off topic, being the father of a son at full time ballet school, the question I really 'like' is when people (usually men, and repeatedly one particular relative) ask 'so, what's he going to do when he leaves school then? Or What university course does he want to do?''. Well, duh, be a ballet dancer (hopefully ;))

 

 

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Finally, and slightly off topic, being the father of a son at full time ballet school, the question I really 'like' is when people (usually men, and repeatedly one particular relative) ask 'so, what's he going to do when he leaves school then? Or What university course does he want to do?''. Well, duh, be a ballet dancer (hopefully ;))

 

Made me smile :) We also used to get asked a lot about his back-up plan (he didn't have one - we thought we'd cross that bridge if we came to it!). But this also applies somewhat to my dd (not at vocational school) who wants to be a vet. Someone asked me what her back-up plan was the other day (she's just doing AS exams now) - she doesn't have one either - she's going to do everything she can to get in to vet school for the next couple of years and if that doesn't work then she'll have a re-think!

 

Back to the main question though - I agree with all the sentiments above - it's up to you to decide what's too much (I was going to use the swimming comparison too - all those hours spent doing early morning training before school), but do bear in mind when comparing to the time spent dancing at vocational schools, that they generally do fewer hours of academics.

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Hi Swe,

As I said before we got a lot of comments too, behind our backs mostly of course...

DD1 (14) does 6 lessons a week plus twice 1.5 hours of private lessons together with DD2 (12) who also does 6 lessons a week. DD3 does 3 a week and she horse rides as well.

All 3 play an instrument which they practice every day, sunday included.

And to top it all, they all have accelerated at school wich means they are in one level higher than their peers. It means DD1 is doing the equivalent of GCSE in June while DD2 will do it next year...

And they are home schooled and have to work really hard for it...

 

As you see, I agree with most of the above comments especially the one saying that we are pulled by our kids and we do not push them. I'd be far less tired if they stopped pulling!

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People will question the choices you and your family make no matter what you do. Do nothing and they will comment - do a lot and they will comment. I learned to say (with a smile) "Thank you for your concern" and say nothing further. Then watch them stand there trying to filll the silence. Because someone asks you a question or makes a comment doesn't mean you have to respond with anything more than "thank you for your concern."

 

No matter what you (or your familly does) others will try to interfere under the guise of "concern." So, just thank them for that concern - and no more.

 

At the age of 40 I decided to take piano lessons. As I walked down the street several neighbors noticed the beginner music book I was carrying and started "those" questions - why was I doing this? did I think I had talent? why was I wasting my time? etc., etc. I just smiled (while secretly wishing I could give 'em a good kick with my ballet trained foot), thanked them for their concern and walked on. Why do people do this? Because they have nothing else to occupy their empty thought processes.

 

Of course, if you want to really make them squirm .....after you say "thank you for your concern" you could add: "And what do you do with your (obviously empty) time?"

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Anjuli,i also started the piano when i was 32!! i loved it.Now i have taught my 3 children and my eldest is a very good pianist and enters international competitions.

Lots of friend and neighbours laughed at me,but whos laughing now when they hear my piano playing everyday from my house!

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Thank goodness for the forum. I think jealousy is a sad and destructive emotion; especially when some seem more concerned about looking critically at others than supporting the wishes of their own family. Surely we know our children best, and we wouldn't force them into activities that they didn't love and benefit from. I generally try to think, is she happy, does she look well, is she as we know her to be. They are young, let them live their dreams while they have both the time and the energy. Never look back, wondering what if....life should be full of experiences whether they result in a career or not.....And, according to this forum, we are not a dying breed either...

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I started taking piano lessons for two reasons. As a ballet teacher I wanted to be able to communicate sensibly with my pianist.

 

But, also, I wanted to be a "beginner" at something. Since there were a few beginner ballet classes in my teaching schedule, I thought it was important to remember what it is like to be a beginner at something difficult.

 

I think sometimes when one has done something for a very long time we tend to forget what that feels like. So by taking piano lessons in my 40's - I got a good dose of a reminder every day.

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. Surely we know our children best, and we wouldn't force them into activities that they didn't love and benefit from. a career or not.....

 

oh no why didn't my comment appear here ..... perhaps I was making myself different lol

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My sister is always telling me I should stop DS dancing as I am 'making him different' I possibly could stop his classes but that wouldn't stop him dancing it would just make him very unhappy ! His dancing is driven by him not by me ;)

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I go through stages of intense worry over the amount of time my dd spends dancing. I also know that friends and family members think that it's all a bit over board. I also worry that she is absolutely obsessed with dance, but she says it's a part of her. I was some way reassured last week when her head master invited her for an interview after being asked to sign a license for her. He asked her how many hours a week she danced and apparently didn't look at all disapproving when she told him. He showed a genuine interest and talked with her at some length. One of the things he asked her was did she have to make sacrifices. She replied that dance was her life, so there were no sacrifices. He finished the interview by telling her how impressed he was with her dedication and committment and that she was exactly the type of pupil they wanted! It was lovely to feel that someone outside the dance world was being supportive.

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I didn't start dancing until I was 12 but ever since then I always wanted to do more but was limited (probably wisely I suppose) by my parents who thought that learning 3 musical instruments and doing a music group 4 school nights out of 5 and doing trampolining (which I did at the time) and ballet was enough. I loved it from the start and dropped trampolining so I could do more dancing, and as I started being able to pay for my own lessons I've just kept increasing them! My family think I'm absolutely barmy and it must be too exhausting but I work 40 hours a week and do 7-8+ hours of dancing. I spend my life counting down to the next dancing lesson and it's what keeps me sane! Call it an obsession, but they did recently note that during the holidays when I wasn't dancing I was really grumpy (oops!). I start getting depressed if I can't so I'd say keep a close eye on her as sometimes we get so obsessed we have to be told to take it down a peg, but usually we only do it because we love it and can't not do it!

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My sister is always telling me I should stop DS dancing as I am 'making him different' I possibly could stop his classes but that wouldn't stop him dancing it would just make him very unhappy ! His dancing is driven by him not by me ;)

Nothing wrong with being "different" anyway! So sad that there is still this attitude about boys dancing. One of my senior boys insists the blinds are down in the studio during lessons because he says if certain people saw him they would make his life hell. So sad.

 

But back to the topic, if a young person is happy in whatever activity they are pursuing then they and their families should be left alone - only when a student is obviously doing activities under duress to please parents should concerns be raised.

 

I'd rather raise concerns about hours and hours spent on facebook etc or late nights "out" doing goodness knows what - I've seen teenagers far more exhausted and depressed from a lack of focus and ambition than I have from our dedicated ds and dds!!

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