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Confidence issues


Lilac
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Sorry this is quite personal, but is an issue that rears it's head quite a lot! My DD often let's herself down by struggling with confidence and self belief. Recently this hampered her in festivals, and she's had to undergo an assessment for her associates. She and I had a dialogue with both the associate teacher and her local teacher! who both felt

that she is talented but in danger of underachieving because of this problem. It's so frustrating when she has talent and technique. I wonder how much further she can go in dance without conquering this, but am at a loss what to do. Just wondered if anyone else's DC has had such a problem and if so how you dealt with it. I just don't want her to look back with regrets.

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Well it is possible to go quite a long way. My ds has always had confidence issues and once said he was scared of being good which was quite profound from a young child.

He is now a professional ballet dancer.

 

The thing is though is whether dancing makes your daughter happy? Could it be that at the moment she is out of her comfort zone thus causing her to doubt herself. Sometimes students look like they are accomplishing steps easily but in actual fact they are inwardly struggling and need reassurance.

 

It might be an idea to take some pressure off her for now and just let her enjoy dancing without worrying about festivals. Could she be a "helper" for a younger class? Some children gain confidence by having little ones look up to them!

 

Not sure Ive been much help. Us teachers often say that a child needs more confidence but we are not always very good at instilling it.

 

But my first question still stands, does dancing make your daughter happy? Exploring the answer to this question may help you find the right way forward for her.

 

Good luck!

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I second what Hfbrew has said.

 

It might also help to know if the environment in which she is dancing is a positive one.  Do the teachers teach in a positive way?  

 

How does this lack of confidence manifest itself?  In performing - such as when it is time to go on stage?  Is it before - when preparing for a performance?  Is it in the classroom?  Is it a problem in other areas of her life?

 

Sometimes it is never conquered - but the performer learns to cope with it.  As I've read Premier Danseur Eric Bruhn dealt with this all his life.  

 

What does she do that she is confident about?  

 

I found that visualization helps.  Visualizing oneself doing the dance step by step.  

 

But, if the basis for this is unhappiness - she want to rethink her journey.

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How old is yr DD? Confidence issues are so common and I often find a more talented child can be harder on themselves resulting in frustration and lack of confidence. I try and encourage them to set themselves small personal goals. It is easy with festivals to get disheartened especially if close peers do well but if she has a bit of determination going for her go with that and maybe each festival tackle a different small goal rather than trying to get placed or get a better mark, for example 'telling a story' through her dance to aid expression (watch Tamara Rojos good swan bad swan) hope that helps :) don't give up!

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Hi Lilac 

I am saddened  to hear of your dd's struggle as my dd is in the same boat . It is upsetting to watch her struggle with nerves and confidence when watching her perform as I know what she is capable of in private. If memory serves me right I think your dd is younger, mine  is a very young 13 , her teacher is lovely and like yours says she must have more self belief but how on earth do you obtain it ?

Thanks for starting this thread I am hoping that  I too can  gain some knowledge and tips on how to deal with this.

I will PM you later .

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Maybe start by asking your DC what they think about themselves as a dancer. If they are able to catch some of the thoughts that feed the self doubt this is a good starting point which might help you and your DC to understand what might feed this. For some there may be an event or incident which triggered the sense of lack of confidence but for others it can come on more subtly. It is useful if your daughter is working on this and feels she trusts the teacher who sees her most to give them a sense of what is going through their head as they may also be able to help with the process.

Ultimately we can be the best possible personal mentor or worst enemy according to what we tell ourselves. It takes practice but developing an inner voice which has wisdom and tells us what we need to hear can make a huge difference in the tough world of dance. So oftern dancers think that by constantly being critical about themselves it will drive them to work harder. It does not always work that way.

Another thing you can ask is 'if you were a confident dancer, what would be different?'. The answer will also be helpful.

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My dd too has been struggling with confidence issues. I think part of it is the going from a big fish in a small pond to a very small fish in a much bigger pond.

 

She has always had a tendency to be a bit inconsistent, at auditions & performances in a good day she shines but on a bad day you wonder what she's doing.

 

Dd is a perfectionist & gets upset with herself if she can't do something first time or if she perceives others as better than her. She comes across as very confident in life generally but her teachers have expressed concern at how she can get so upset to the extent she has been asked is this what you really want to do? But the answer has always been , yes I want to dance, I have to dance.

 

I guess this ramble is just to reassure you there are others in the same position, at every level.

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I honestly believe that confidence, shyness and similar personality traits are largely down to genetics and that they have to be accommodated and worked on. A shy child is unlikely to become a social butterfly or the life and soul of the party. It's obviously more of a problem in ballet, music etc because of the performance element. I read somewhere that Frederick Ashton was so crippled by stage nerves that he gave up dancing and became a choreographer instead. Does your dd lack confidence in other areas of her life or is the confidence issue confined to ballet? I would think about ditching the festivals for a while until your dd becomes more confident. As has been said many times before, they are irrelevant to the vocational schools. Alternatively, setting small goals for a performance situation is a good idea. Teenagers can be prone to catastrophise and perhaps this is what your dd is doing ie thinking that if she makes the smallest mistake or if her performance is anything less than perfect then it and she are rubbish. The reality is that even professional ballet dancers do not give perfect performances and sometimes their performances can fall far short of what they expect of themselves. Hard work and adequate rehearsal time increase the likelihood of a good performance but do not guarantee it as a performance is a one-off event, with no possibility of starting again, and is by its nature slightly unpredictable. I have seen many dancers slip, fall, wobble or land awkwardly but they just have to put these mishaps behind them, and the audience soon forgets. It is the performance as a whole which is judged. 

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I agree with other posters that lack of confidence is quite common and I think it is often triggered in a young dancer as they begin to realise how much dance means to them.  It may be that they have moved to vocational school and are now small fish in a big pond or simply that they are having to work harder in class and festivals and not achieving as much or learning as quickly as they would like.  Dancers are often very self critical, which does not help their self confidence if they start doubting themselves before even starting a dance in a festival or the like.  I think the subjective nature of dance also can take a while to really register with a young dancer as well - especially when being judged in a festival.  Not being placed does not necessarily mean that you danced badly but that others danced as well as you and the judges liked their dance better.  I would have a chat with your DD and try and get her to open up and see if there has been a trigger for her lack of self confidence and to see if she likes festivals or would rather cut back on them and concentrate on technique - as long as your DD feels the decisions are coming from her and not being imposed on her because of how good/bad she is.

 

Eileen comments on shyness and confidence and how a shy child is unlikely to be the life and soul of the party.  I have 2 shy DDs and this is very true of them in everyday life.  Even her drama teacher was surprised when elder DD announced she would be auditioning for vocational school in year 11.  However, neither of them have a problem in performing - on the contrary they come alive on stage (as long as no talking is involved) but I am not sure this would be the case if they had performed in a competitive category at a younger age.  It just would not have suited their individual personalities.

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At some point in their journey most performers will have this experience. Your DD is still young. Doing associates, fesitvals and the regular training for some children can be too much in their young lives. Think about what Aileen has suggested, perhaps cut back a bit on the festivals, by either reducing the number of festivals or cut down on the number of dances.

 

A friend once had a similar issue when our DD's were around 10, and at that time no one was sure if she really wanted to dance at this level. Our teacher had a chat ith her about all this things she did during the week, at school and with dance. She asked her to share which she liked doing by asking her to 'rate' all her activities. 'What do you really love doing at school' 'writing stories' and what don't you like doing at school 'maths'. If you could give writing stories a special number with 10 being 'amazing' and 3 being 'don't like it' what number would you give 'writing stories'.....mix in the dance areas with school activities and 'going to parties' playing with friends's etc . You can do it as a game and write all the activities on a chart, then get her to put the rating number next to the activity. It may be best to do get a granny or someone to do this with her, so she doesn't feel any pressure. It will bring out how she feels about her associates, festivals and dance in general as well as her other activities.

 

My friends DD loves dance and still dances doing the odd festival, but chose to get off the vocational route. She may return at 16 if that what she wants to do.

 

I think it's harder to uncover once they become teenagers as hormones and the self believe comes into play even more, that's just growing up, but can be a big issue.

 

Looking forward to hearing others comments.

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My dd has always lacked confidence .  I went to an interesting talk at work the other day about something called 'imposter syndrome' which sounds more dramatic than it is... but it is, to quote wikipedia, a 'psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalise their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.'  I work at a university and lots of the women in the room, many very succesful and high profile in their careers could relate to this notion of feeling like they don't deserve to be doing what they are doing.  Apparently it is common in academia, sport and performance careers and it can be self managed if recognised and understood.

  Just thought I'd mention it though it as I found it really helpful to have learned about in relation to my daughters confidence issues though it may not have ressonance for your dd Lilac. 

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Chaperone, both myself and DD suffer from impostor syndrome - much as I have tried to disguise my own around her, she seemed to be born with it. The feeling that luck, timing or others somehow being deceived into believing that one has done well must be the reason for one's success is a curse. I have to say, though, that I cannot bear those people who are overly confident about their own abilities and happy to shout this from the rooftops - even when all objective evidence is that there is nothing to shout about; I do realise that this is probably because it's the polar opposite from myself and in some ways I admire those people, because self-confidence is a great help in life.

 

All those who have posted have made good points and suggestions and I suspect that your DD will need to work on her self-confidence throughout her life, Lilac as it does seem that self-confidence or lack of it is an inborn trait. However, she is still young and with reassurance from you, her friends and other family members and from her teachers she should be able to make progress, slowly but surely. Perfectionism in gifted people is nothing new and I am sure her teachers have previously helped students who have similar traits. Sending you and your DD a virtual hug x

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I don't know how old your daughter is but I found this talk by a young dancer really inspiring: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShswlNMaUSA

its from an event called TEDx Talks in America but thought it might be relevant, she used to be a festival dancer. Hope the link works...

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There were some articles in the press a few months ago about how praising children for being clever or talented often backfired and seemed raise anxiety as they felt they had no control and could never match up to expectations.  The conclusion was that praising someone for their effort had a more positive effect e.g. you have worked so hard you really deserve to succeed.

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I agree that self-confidence is a great help in life as an awful lot of overt or more subtle self-promotion goes on everyday and not just in what are clearly performance, competition or interview/audition situations. Eventually a person has to internalise their own ability and stop looking to other people for validation or reassurance, particularly at work whatever that may be. I have read that Imposter Syndrome seems to affect girls and women disproportionately.

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My Dd to is also struggling with confidence, she is always saying she is rubbish. She can only seem to see the no's at the moment and gives no credit to the things she has achieved. There have been some good suggestions posted and nothing more i can add but send a vertual hug to you and your Dd. For me and my dd i think that maybe it is  our time to get of this ride.

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Janice and Ellen , sorry that your dd is also having a difficult time too.  'When to get off the ride' is such a dilemma and I hope that if/when you both make this decision that your dd will be able to recognise (if not now but eventually) the transferable skills knowledge and experience she has gained along the way!

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Hi Lilac,

Your dc sounds so much like mine I can't believe it. We have just had an associate appraisal also. I wish I had an answer. ... I will follow the thread with interest.

In my dc case it is self generated pressure. Our home teachers are fab and supportive which helps- as others have said getting them to look at smaller short term goals seems to help, is less overwhelming. I'm sorry to say a previous experience with an Associates teacher who wasn't able to be so intuitive with dc was quite damaging.

Good luck to you- it is so distressing for parent as well as child.

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I agree that self-confidence is a great help in life as an awful lot of overt or more subtle self-promotion goes on everyday and not just in what are clearly performance, competition or interview/audition situations. Eventually a person has to internalise their own ability and stop looking to other people for validation or reassurance, particularly at work whatever that may be. I have read that Imposter Syndrome seems to affect girls and women disproportionately.

 

Its so much easier to grow confidence when in a 'comfort zone'.  I agree offering to help with younger ones would be a great boost if your DD is still keen on dance.  Not only is it allowing her to feel a little more 'grown-up' but it allows her to show off her skills in a quiet way.  

 

Its so hard to know what to do for the best, often sitting back and let nature take its course is better, we can try too hard!  Rather than stopping festivals all together, agree not to enter the next one and see if she misses it.  Or as you suggested yourself Lilac, personal goals for festivals rather than thinking of placings is a great idea. 

 

My eldest DD quit dance at 13 and it wasnt until she stopped she realise how much she enjoyed using her time for other things.  Although just because she has the ability to do very well, perhaps at the moment doing well is enough for her - there must be so many talented sports people and academics who never use their full potential but are happy doing what they choose in life.  As long as she is happy in class and enjoying it, I'm sure her confidence will grow with time if she wants it to.

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You make a good point, Bankruptmum. Just because a child or teenager is good or very good at something it doesn't mean that s/he has to keep on doing it, however much it may seem a waste of his/her talent. It can be hard for the child/teenager and the parent(s) to step away from something in which so much has been invested. The fact of the matter, though, is that doing something at an elite level never gets any easier and requires incredible hard work, drive and, most importantly, passion.

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I like the comment regarding having the talent for something doesn't necessarily mean we need to or want to pursue it or use it to its full potential.  

 

 

I"m not sure we always can - or should - operate based on our perceived talents..   We can take that information on board - but in the end if its not working out well,  we might need to rethink the journey.  

 

I think I would say to my child:  You say you want to dance and yet it is making you unhappy - then, perhaps you need to rethink what you are doing - or how to do it differently.

 

It seems to me that a constant back and forth of "You can do it" to a reply of "I'm not good enough"  is a non-productive exchange. 

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Thanks for all this. It's so hard when you want to help, but don't know how to. She is year 10 having turned 15 in January, so all dance scenarios are getting tougher. Almost feel we need some sort of confidence for dancers sort of sessions, as teachers generally don't have time to cover this. One that really struck me lately was her local teacher who has her in Advanced 1 and Advanced 2 ballet, and said she had never seen anyone learn fouettes(?) so quickly and how some of her students had really struggled with them, yet DD looked embarrassed to do them so well first time! She is also a typical moody teenager, so doesn't like to listen to much advice from mum!

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obviously i dont know your daughter personally but in general id say that she needs to have one experience which changes things for her.

I am 16 and i am very unconfident whilst going to new classes auditions etc because i believe i am 'too big' to be the best despite this probably not being true.

i, like many other people i know developed a persona and attitude we could put on to pretend we were confident at festivals and auditions and with new teachers. through this you learn what it feels like when you are not shying away and worrying all the time and it really helped me enjoy the dancing and not worry about everything else. 

for some people it just clicks and they realise that they DO intact have a talent and more often than not this will come from a comment of talk from someone who is important to your dd or who she looks up to, my choreographer telling me how she loves seeing a diverse dancer and thinks ive got what it takes really gave me a confidence boost and i tried much harder in the classes the following week, consequently improving.

I really hope she can become confident and i wish her the best of luck!

ps - about the moody teenager thing, i would have to agree and say id value compliments etc from a teacher or other girl i meet at an audition etc much more than from my own parents or school frineds, i guess thats just the way it is!!

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I'm so glad you started this thread as my dd age 11 also lacks confidence. She is currently studying Intermediate foundation and takes the exam in 3 weeks. Recently her anxiety has got so bad that she has small panic attacks before going into her associate class, any audition and even her local class. It got to the point where I told her she didn't have to do any class and did she want to stop dancing? but she replied "no mum, I want to do it, I want to be a dancer I just don't want these feelings and be the child that cries every time". For my dd it's not just her dancing but in life generally she is very shy and timid. I just pray her lack of confidence doesn't stop her from doing what she wants in life.

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Boogalou, lack of self-confidence and anxiety are slightly different things, I think, although the first can lead to the second. I feel that your dd's 'behaviour' (panic attacks, crying) is quite extreme and goes well beyond lack of self-confidence and I wonder whether you need to address it more proactively, perhaps by getting professional help. There must be a danger that this anxiety will spread into other areas of her life eg school and friendships.

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I have to agree with aileen regarding anxiety.I first developed anxiety attacks when I was 15. Having to mix socially with people i didn`t know very well,or doing a small thing that was new to me and out of my comfort zone.I would sweat profusely and break out in hives. People would look at me because there would be a bright red rash all over my neck and throat,which would make me even more self conscious and even worse. I also around this age had quite bad acne and was bullied at school by the boys because of it.There was one particular boy i really liked and someone told him.Whenever he would see me he would shout "Spotty Grotty" at me, and in the science class he would try and gas me with the Bunsen Burner turned on. ! I used to come home from school every night and cry buckets. In fact,I think the last two years of secondary school were the worst two years of my life. Anyway,my mum took me to see the GP.He told her and me it was just normal teenage anxiety and very common and not to worry as it would pass in time. He gave me some strong creme for my skin and that was that. Somehow I managed to audition for full time vocational school [with my rash on full display to the panel for them to look at.] I wanted to be a dancer so I did what I had to do, i guess.But I was still essentially the same.At the Moulin Rouge,I was the only dancer who used to get in a taxi and go straight home after the show.Everyone else used to go over the road to an all night cafe/bar. The thought of socialising and having to make conversation with people just terrified me.I did a few times, just to be friendly, and it was like pulling teeth, I felt so uncomfortable and self conscious.I couldn`t wait to get home and feel "safe". In 2007 things were not going well for me at all. Recurring depression,withdrawing from people and friends,etc. My GP referred me to a Psychiatrist. I had to wait 6 months for the appointment to come through,but when it did, I spent over two hours with him.He asked me anything and everything, about my childhood,school,parents,dancing,everything. He diagnosed me with Social Phobic Disorder,Anxiety Disorder and Depression. He then asked me how old I was. I told him I was 37.He looked at me and told me he was very sorry to have to tell me that I will probably have the Social Phobia and Anxiety for the rest of my life and there is nothing that can be done.He explained that as i was a fully grown adult, my personality was set,and would now not change.He told me all of this should have been dealt with while I was still a teenager and while |I was still developmentally growing. He said if only I had sought help when i was 15 when it all first started,that if I had I would probably be a different person today. But today I have difficulty forming friendships and relationships with people,and if a friend is coming round to visit me ,or me her,I panic and worry about it so much and get myself into such a state,worrying what i will say and talk about ,will I come across as being stupid,etc.That in the end i usually make some excuse and cancel the meeting.The sense of relief i feel that i will not have to put myself through all that is immense.Dancing on the stage never bothered me,as it wasn`t "real", if you know what I mean. I was hidden beneath fancy costumes and heavy makeup, so I wasn`t exposing the real me to the world.I hope what i`ve said is some help. But if you are at all concerned do get help while any young person is still young. Don`t leave it too late like i did when nothing can be done. 

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Lilac - is it a case of "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" syndrome with your dd?

 

Mine also tends to have a lack of inner belief/confidence in her own ability,  she is such a perfectionist too.

 

They say success breeds success, and it seems to me as though those who come out on top are then more confident the next time - and it shows in their performance. Naturally they succeed again(!) and so it goes on...

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This thread has struck a chord with me. I am sorry to hear of all the dcs who have confidence issues but it has made me see that my dd is not alone. I know that I am obviously biased but she is such a lovely dancer and has a lot of potential. She always gets distinctions in her exams and has successfully applied for 4 associate schemes including RBs jas but she just doesn't see it. She always thinks she is the worst dancer in the class, the slowest to pick up steps and has the worst technique. My heart aches for her and I wonder where I have gone wrong as a parent that she doubts herself so much. Over the past 6 months she has decided that she doesn't want to do any more associate schemes or scholarships as she just feels out of her depth and I know this sounds totally melodramatic but I have found this really hard to deal with as I can see how talented she is. However I recognise that being in that emvironment just isn't right for her at the moment so I am trying my very best to support her. On the plus side she has started high school this year and is positively thriving. She seems to have developed a sporty streak that none of us expected and has been picked for hockey tennis and netball teams and is absolutely loving it as well as still really enjoying her dancing 3 times a week at her local school. Coincidentally as mentioned by others in the thread I have also thought that teaching the younger kids might be a good confidence boost for dd and something I might ask her teacher about. Ps I really do appreciate having this forum and the wonderful people who contribute to it. I don't post often but I find it a wealth of information.

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Up until recently, DD has danced fearlessly in class, for exams and with the local ballet school on stages that made me feel dizzy,  looking out on to an empty auditorium at rehearsals. Recently though, DD mentioned that she was afraid to put her heart into auditions, in case they don't want her.

DD reached one final, and then a few events led to a drop in confidence.  She had a good luck card signed by all the girls in her local class, and suddenly it became a big deal. Having been rejected as an Associate with this particular school, at the final, she looked around at all the girls in the school's Associate tracksuit and said, 'What is the point in me being here? They won't want me. They'll choose their associates'.

During the audition, the leotard that she told me was 'the most comfortable she had ever worn', was slipping down. She said that, being in the last group of girls in the class, she had to wait a long time for her turn to dance, and started thinking too much. On the way home, she said 'It wasn't my day'.

So frustrating and difficult to be strong and positive for her at the moment :-( 

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