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Daughter -- Puberty/Ballet


balletmom225
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6 hours ago, balletbean said:

A friend of my eldest when they were in yr5/6 was head and shoulders above her peers. Fully developed to the envy of many teenagers. Fast forward to when the girls all reached about 14/15. She was no longer stood out from the crowd. Many of her peers developed more curves and looked down on the girl. Puberty is a temporary phase, all bodies as we know settle down. I too am seriously concerned about the underlying thoughts of the teachers making assumptions on such a temporary phase of a 10yr old. 
How dare they make such a decision on a young child. They are showing a serious lack of knowledge verging on ignorance on how the human body develops over the years.  

@balletmom225stay true to yourself. If your daughter wants to stay put you fight for her place.  Don’t listen to her teachers if they are basing their decision purely on physical development. Your DD is only 10yrs old!! Remain composed. Don’t rise to the occasion though tempting as it may well be to tell them what you think.
After-all you pay the bill and therefore their wages. 

Try to use this (rather challenging) experience exactly as it is. An experience to draw strength on to to make your daughter more determined and stronger individual, embracing her new shape to drive her forward to reach her goals. And not just to prove the teachers that they are wrong. That’s called Karma 😉
 

Good Luck. 
 

Again, it seems so unlikely to me they would catch up. She's more mature than the high schoolers at 10!

 

But yes, her teachers seem to be acting out of hand and not respecting her as a student :(

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6 hours ago, Fonty said:

I have read this thread and I am slightly confused.  @balletmom225When you say the teachers have "hinted" that she should move to their less intensive ballet programme, what exactly do they mean by that.  What is the intensive ballet programme, and how does it differ from the other programmes.  Why are they suggesting this?  After all, your daughter hasn't lost the ability to do classical ballet moves simply because she has gone through puberty and now has to wear a bra!  

I think you should book an appointment with them and ask them to explain themselves fully,  rather than hinting.   If they are saying this because they think your daughter is getting self conscious and embarrassed, which is a possibility, the answer is not to shove her off to another class where the dancers wear less revealing outfits.  The answer is to deal with it sensitively.  

Has your daughter said anything to you about it?  She isn't being bullied by the other girls, is she, for looking different?  In which case, that really is for the class teachers to deal with and stamp out.  

 

 

They have said, in passing, to me, that she could consider another path. And she told me one teacher asked her if she really wanted to pursue ballet, and she didn't know how to respond.

 

They have an intensive ballet program that she's in -- about 16 hours of classes a week. The less intensive program could be between 4 and 8 hours. 

 

Booking an appointment with them sounds doable, and I appreciate your insights.

 

She has said things to me about it. The other girls make some comments like "your boobs are sticking out" or "why aren't you wearing a bra?" (She isn't allowed to wear a bra in ballet class). And the moms make insensitive comments to me as well.

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2 hours ago, Peony said:

I think technique does sometimes suffer during puberty as they grow so fast, their proportions change (you grow outward in- feet first, then legs etc) and bones can grow at a faster rate than muscles and ligaments.centre of gravity changes.  So it’s possible that it looks like she’s not as good as she was (think typical clumsy, gangly teen!). I’m wondering whether the teacher is used to teaching only younger kids and possibly not taking this all into account? 

This is true too... I'm not sure how much her technique is struggling, but her lines and aesthetic definitely are. 

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From everything you've said, it sounds as though a new environment might well be beneficial for her.  And possibly cutting back a bit until her body's stabilised a bit?

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2 hours ago, alison said:

From everything you've said, it sounds as though a new environment might well be beneficial for her.  And possibly cutting back a bit until her body's stabilised a bit?

Yes, I think so too.

Hmm, what do you mean by that?

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This is a confusing situation.  It is no surprise that girls grow and experience puberty at different rates.  Maybe the school in question is too small too provide flexibility around the needs of the students?

My DD goes to quite a large school.  There is quite a lot of movement at the 10-13 age group.  Some students skip a RAD grade and some repeat a year.  There are many reasons for this.  Some students are more advanced in their technique.  Some students experience their growth spurt early and fit in better with older girls!   A school should be able to cater to this with sensitivity and normalising it.

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Are you in the US? It’s only there that I hear about such long hours of training. 16 hours of dance per week for the intense programme seems a huge amount to me. Even the 4-8 hours for the less intense programme is quite a lot for a ten-year-old. My DD was doing just two classes a week at that age. It should be all about enjoyment at this age - and any age, really. Does she have other hobbies? The environment she is in doesn’t seem a healthy one for her. I think you must prioritise her well-being.

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The only other thing I would suggest, would be talk to your dd and see how she feels.  See if she wants to continue with ballet, making it clear that she can if she wants to.  See if she wants to stay at this school or look elsewhere.  Empower her by making it her choice, and then do everything you can to support her in it.

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I agree with Glowlight that it needs to be your daughter’s decision. I am appalled to be honest that she seems to be getting no support from her teachers in terms of the behaviour of her peers; I cannot imagine how their teasing and bullying is being allowed to continue when a simple statement that everyone goes through puberty at a different time and rate and that everyone will have to learn to adjust to their new body shape as a result should have been made as soon as it became apparent that it was necessary (or indeed, as with my DD’s PE teacher, several chats about puberty and its usually short term effects on sporting ability - and the need for anti-perspirants! - when the girls were about 8-9, so that it was as the earliest developers were at an early stage). I am even more appalled at the attitude of the other parents, who quite frankly should be mature enough to realise that their comments are damaging and extremely unhelpful. 


If her dance teachers aren’t able to deal sensitively with what is a perfectly normal issue for girls of her age and make adjustments eg to required uniform, while reassuring your daughter that she remains the same lovely dancer she has always been and that although her new shape may mean that she has some issues at first, she will adjust, I would be very concerned about their ability as teachers. And I would undoubtedly be looking at other dance teachers and schools given that your daughter is being failed by her current teachers. It would be criminal for your daughter to feel that she ‘must’ change to a different intensity of lessons or even give up ballet because her teachers are failing her. 

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18 hours ago, balletmom225 said:

She has said things to me about it. The other girls make some comments like "your boobs are sticking out" or "why aren't you wearing a bra?" (She isn't allowed to wear a bra in ballet class). And the moms make insensitive comments to me as well.

 

For goodness sake, this sounds grossly insensitive from just about everyone.  I am appalled by this.  I cannot think of any reason why she shouldn't be allowed to wear a bra, for example.  I went to a vocational school, admittedly rather a long time ago, and we were positively encouraged to wear one when we first started requiring such a garment.  I can't think why it would be any different now.  

Oh, and we didn't do anything like 16 hours of training.  At 10 or 11, I think we did no more than 10 hours a week at the most.

Edited by Fonty
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I agree with Rowan that 16 hours of training is too much for a 10 year old whatever their hopes are for the future. I coach young people in a sport and the rule of thumb we are taught for school aged children is that even the most enthusiastic and committed young athlete should not be doing more hours per week training than their age in years, including the sport they do in school and any other out of school sports. Obviously not everyone will agree with that and I certainly know of children who do more, but from my observation there is a high risk of those who put in very long hours from a young age becoming "burned out" both physically and mentally. Rest and recovery are a very important part if any athlete's training, especially whilst they are young. 

The more you tell us the more it sounds like you need to find another school. You've got excessive hours, unsupportive teachers, classmates who are essentially bullying your DD and mothers who are doing the same to you - that sounds like a pretty toxic environment. There must be somewhere better surely? Somewhere more nurturing where both she and you will be treated kindly  - I'm sure that would make a world of difference.

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19 hours ago, balletmom225 said:

I asked about options for a bra underneath and was quickly shot down. Though she very obviously needs it.

I used to make an almost invisible bra using an upside down pair of tights - waistband becomes bra strap, and the tights are cut to fit around the bust and perfectly under leotard straps. It’s not super supportive, but it’s a huge improvement on no support at all, as well as comfortable and also somewhat minimizing. Worth playing around with some old tights to see if she can fashion something that looks and feels good. 
 

Wearmoi also makes a bra that is as thin as tights with clear straps that might fit perfectly under a leotard. I doubt the teacher would even notice she’s wearing it.  
 

Bigger picture, the school not allowing a bra and not being supportive and understanding of normal childhood development, does seem like a red flag. There are lots of wonderful teachers, and I would definitely take this opportunity to switch to a school that sees the beauty and potential in your daughter. I would also be honest with your daughter that while the training at her current school may be excellent, they are certainly not the end-all-be-all of schools because of their rigid, old-fashioned thinking about body types and probably many other things.  I always remind my children that we will change schools at any point if that school is not giving them what they need. 

Edited by katesy
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On 22/04/2021 at 03:21, balletmom225 said:

Yes, I think so too.

Hmm, what do you mean by that?

 

Hello balletmom225 and a belated welcome from me too. I can see you’ve had lots of wonderful advice from our always-supportive Doing Dance members. 

 

I think what alison means about your dd’s body “stabilising” is that the body shape, fat levels, and proportions can change (sometimes drastically) between the start of puberty and when they finish growing.  Your dd may have a large bust in comparison to the rest of her at the moment, but as she grows, loses any “puppy fat”, as her ribcage and shoulders widen and strengthen, she may or may not keep her proportionally “large” bust.  It’s quite a long process for some girls (my dd had the opposite problem of late puberty and was still growing height-wise when she was 19 😳) but the “gangly” period where their legs are growing (often unevenly, for a while) can play havoc with technique and balance, including en pointe.  This drop in technique doesn’t usually last too long and a good teacher will be able to help the student work through it.

 

I was interested in your comment about your dd’s “lines” and aesthetic suffering - I think it’s important to remember that she’s only ten years old!  Also, that should her shape *not* change drastically over the next few years, there are other dance disciplines that don’t demand the classic long, slim, lean muscles, long limbs, long neck and small bust desired in the ballet world.  She might turn out to be the most amazing tap, commercial or hip-hop dancer.  If she can sing, she might want to go into theatre or cruise ship work.  She might stick with ballet alongside other dance styles (at a better, more nurturing school that doesn’t allow bullying or teasing) and keep ballet as a wonderful lifelong interest.  She might decide she actually wants to switch to sports, she might want to go to a great university. 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

I agree with everyone who suggests leaving this school - no need to lie, you can simply tell her that every single person is unique, inside and out, and we all grow and mature at different rates, that she is beautiful just as she is, and that as a paying customer, you have a right to remove your child from any environment where she is subjected to unacceptable behaviour from teachers and pupils.  You do not need to give other parents any reason at all.  

 

I think you need to find a nice, caring, nurturing school where the teachers are used to girls reaching puberty early and late, are respectful and accommodating (allowing the wearing of an “invisible” dance bra, allowing different styles of leotards in the same colour and fabric (eg cami for flatter chested girls, tank with bust support for those who prefer it, allowing short sheer uniform skirts for those girls who have started their periods, etc), grouping the classes by ability instead of age, and with less intensive ballet training until she is older.   Above all, I think you need to remember how young your little girl is, and how the manner in which you handle this - and what you’re prepared to tolerate on her behalf as a *paying customer* could have far reaching effects on her self respect, self esteem and her body image in future.  

 

 

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hi balletmum225 and welcome to the forum.  You've had lots of advice already.

I think Anna C's comments on 'body stabilising' are very valid. It takes years really for their bodies to settle into their adult shape. One of my DDs hit puberty aged 11 and Anna's comments regarding rib cage, shoulders are spot on. But the most important thing regarding your DD and her changing shape should be the fact that it is normal, that all girls and all dancers go through it. 

By "lie," I only meant should I tell her the truth that we're leaving due to discomfort around her body - I find that comment and your earlier comment "I don't want her to feel guilty about leaving" quite unsettling.  To me those comments, especially when you are talking to your DD, need completely turning about - there is nothing wrong with your DD, she is going through completely natural changes - it needs to be clear to her that it is the teachers and the environment at that particular school that are in the wrong here.

You obviously do have your DD's best interests and her emotional well-being as your priority. I agree wholeheartedly with the advice of talking to your daughter and see how she feels about her school and about ballet in general. She needs to know that she has choices and that you support her fully, though since it would appear that the current school is completely unsupportive and toxic for her, if she wants to continue to do ballet or dance in general, make sure the option of a better school is a choice for her. And given your own dance background I would stress that you emphasize the fact that you love her and support her whichever path she takes, that she is not you and will not be disappointing you. This fact may be obvious to you but may not be so obvious to a 10 year who sort of expects to grow up like mummy . I always remember my youngest DD at about that age asking me about ballet and did she have to go because her eldest sister did (on track to be a professional dancer at that time)- it hadn't occurred to her that she had a choice, she thought it was just something she was expected to do. I was totally surprised at the question - I thought she knew I would support her with whatever hobby/activity she wished to pursue, that she wasn't her sister. But it can be difficult to see into the minds of 10 year olds.

In any event I wish you good luck in finding a school that will support your DD in her interests and in guiding your DD through the difficulties of going through puberty earlier than her peers.

Edited by 2dancersmum
grammar
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Talking of gymnastics.... 
 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56858863
 

Well done Sarah Voss. Leading the way in women’s sports 💪☺️ 

 

Voss explained her decision in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF: "We women all want to feel good in our skin. In the sport of gymnastics it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child's body. As a little girl I didn't see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable."

Edited by cotes du rhone !
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2 hours ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

Talking of gymnastics.... 
 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56858863
 

Well done Sarah Voss. Leading the way in women’s sports 💪☺️ 

 

 

So often our contemporary ballet girls are performing in a leo only.

Not a great look - no matter how slim you are. 

 

Let's celebrate the transition from a little girl to a young women! 

 

I went to her Instagram to give it a like!  

https://www.instagram.com/p/CN7hwjGFLLR/

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