Recently I have had a few small but contentious issues arise regarding dance costume fees, music choices and hostile dance moms. These small dilemmas were stressing me out and I was worried about how to approach my daughters dance teacher so that we could effectively resolve each problem.
Having been a dance teacher and as a dance mom:
The best way to effectively sort out problems with your child’s dance teacher is by approaching them Mary Poppin’s style – with a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine or in this case, your problem or concerns go down the right way.
The second most IMPORTANT tip is that you should organize a time out of class to discuss the issue.
If you set aside time to talk and approach the problem from a place of gratitude and appreciation you are more likely to be heard, your issues addressed and for an amicable solution to be made.
But before you even start your conversation here a few pointers to get you off on the right foot!
Do’s and Don’ts to effectively sorting out problems with your dance teacher:
- Do not try to start a conversation just as a class is about to begin or during class time. Your teacher is supposed to be teaching your child or other children and they will not have the time to address your concerns.
- Do not start a conversation regarding your problems in front of other parents or students even if they are aware of your issues or have similar problems.
- Do not approach your teacher in the heat of the moment. Take some time to cool off first then follow the ‘Do’ steps or choose one of the suggestions on how to sweeten, but not suck up below.
- Try not to discuss your problems with too many other parents. We all need advice and the opinions of others but there is a line between complaining behind your teachers back and trying to clarify if you even have a problem.
And here a are a few DO’s
- Do make an appointment with your teacher to discuss your problems in private before or after class or at another convenient time.
- Do call your child’s teacher during their office hours to discuss the issue over the phone.
- Do email your teacher back with any concerns regarding their email correspondence in a timely manner.
- Do pass your child’s teacher a note rather than disturb a class if you feel an issue needs to be addressed urgently.
- Do ask your teacher is they have a spare moment to talk first, before launching into your problem if you think they are available to talk with you, as they might have intended to use a break time to prepare for the next lesson or have somewhere else they need to be after teaching your child.
Buy how do you approach your child’s dance teacher with a little sugar and not make it look like you’re just trying to sweeten them up to get what you want?
Read on to discover some tips you may have never thought of to prepare you for even the most difficult of problems that you might have to discuss with your child’s dance teacher.
How to sweeten them up to get what you want, without sucking up!
In the movie Mary Poppins the famous phrase – A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way. – meant doing something you don’t like in a fun way. It can also mean telling people something you don’t think they want to hear in a nice and kind way.
The trick to doing this is not tricking the other person with lavish compliments, gifts or confusing gimmicks.
The trick is to simply just be a nice and kind person – FULL STOP.
The problem is when we get into fear mode. Our brain goes a bit crazy on us and it is hard to stop being a mama or papa bear trying to defend our children or ourselves from what our brains perceive as a threat.
In order to give a spoonful of sugar, we need to take one ourselves. We first need to see that we are choking on our own medicine and the only way the energy of a problem or issue will change is if we change. The following are some tips and points on how to do this even when we are stressed out!
Recognise that the only person you can change is yourself!
Take five (or ten or twenty or an hour…)
Take some time to let any anger or confusion settle before you take any action. This will allow you to make a conscious choice and you will be able to respond to the problem rather than react.
Some common ways to do this might be to:
- focus on your breathing
- do a meditation or visualisation
- remove yourself from the situation
- move your body to release tension
- distract yourself with your phone, a book or tv
- listen to some music
- listen to music and dance
- go for a walk
- lie flat on the floor (this works for some people??)
- focus on a totally new task or issue
- hug your child
- play with your child
- run around with your child – play chase or have running races.
You might want to set an alarm on your clock or calendar or put the issue on your to do list to remind you to respond later in the day if the issue is best acted on in a timely fashion, just in case your distraction methods end up working too well.
Journal or write about your problem
Some people just think more clearly once they do a brain dump and let everything out on paper. If you are one of those people you can use any of the following ideas or your own to help you iron out your feelings, your arguments and what it exactly is that you are worried or upset about.
- Brain dump – just write anything and everything that comes up and out.
- Bullet points.
- Pros and Con lists – why you need to address the problem, what will happen if you don’t address the problem, what might happen if you do?.
- Use Tim Ferris’ 3 step Fear Setting Strategy (he uses this strategy when making decisions but I also find it relates to solving problems and so where he says choice insert the word problem or issue to help it make sense for your context).
- write from the other persons point of view to develop empathy or understanding about the issue.
Once you have finished writing re-read what you have written and question if everything is true? Could their be another side or story to the issue? Are you being over dramatic? Is this really a concern? If you have never heard of Byron Katies ‘The Work’ which involves asking yourself four questions about the things in your life causing suffering or pain, which is what problems basically do, follow this link to be inspired to a new way of effectively solving not just problems with your dance teacher but problems in your life in general.
Talk about the problem with a trusted listening partner or friend
Do you have one of those friends who is a constant energy drain always calling you and asking for your advice and basically wanting you to solve all their problems and dragging you into their drama? Well I am not suggesting you be that friend here! What I am suggesting is finding a person who will just listen and empathise with you so that you can work out what you need to do on your own.
If you don’t think you have this kind of person in your life you could start off by saying the following to your closest friend:
“Hi, I am stressed over this problem at the moment and I just need someone to listen to me for five minutes. If you feel the need to give me advice that is great, but right now I just need you to listen so I can sort out my thoughts.”
So that might be a little scripted but you get the gist of it…
Be grateful and appreciative.
Tony Robbins is one of the top US life and business strategists. During a Super Soul Sunday special with Oprah he told her that when we are in a place of gratitude we cannot simultaneously be in a place of fear. Kate Northrup in her book ‘Do Less’ likes to focus more on appreciation rather than gratitude because appreciation is being grateful for what is in front of us, rather than what could be or is in the past.
Which ever you choose, take the time to think about what you appreciate and are thankful for in your child’s dance school and/or teacher. You might like to write a list or meditate on the theme. This way when all the worries come up about the issue or problem you are having you can call on that gratitude and appreciation bank account you have started building to keep you in a positive place, where you are looking for the best outcome for both your child and their place within their dance school.
Try a short 5 or 20 minute self compassion meditation
When we are stressed and worried about a problem we can sometimes take the low road and play the blame game. We might create stories about our problems that make us angry at our dance teacher, other parents and ourselves. A short (5 mins) guided Self Compassion Meditation Break by Dr. Kristen Neff allows you to take a moment to re-frame your anger so you can direct your energy into taking positive action to solve your problems. If you have more time I recommend her 20 minute guided Self Compassion or Kindness Meditation which guides you in developing kindness and compassion not only for yourself but others. A self compassion or kindness meditation will usually have you focus on gently repeating phrases such as these ones:
MANTRA FOR YOURSELF
May I be safe
May I be peaceful
May I be kind
May I be healthy
MANTRA FOR OTHERS
May you be safe
May you be peaceful
May you be healthy
May you live with ease and well being
Believe that the Universe has your back
For some this point will resonate greatly and for others it won’t. You have a choice to stop reading if you think sending out prayers or vibrations is a bit woo woo for you and go straight onto the next helpful hint – we are not making you read anything you are not comfortable about. That being said it could be helpful to you?
We have to remember that we can’t control and solve everything and at times we need to ask for help. Some people do this by asking God for help and others might put it out to the universe to do it’s thing to help them. Which ever way you sway, praying and believing that something greater than ourselves is at play in our lives can help to relieve the stress, anger or fear you might feel about a problem because when we let go, we make the space for miracles or karma to occur.
Ho’oponono: A Hawaiian Forgiveness Prayer
If you haven’t had time to prepare or think about how you are going to approach your conversation with your child’s dance teacher at the very least you could stop, take a breath and say this following short prayer or mantra:
Please forgive me.
I am so sorry.
I love you.
This Hawaiian prayer is not just about forgiveness. It will set your focus and energy in place for a conversation which is about wanting to make things right again.
Why will “sugar” or in our case kindness help me to effectively solve problems with my dance teacher?
It’s important to remember when effectively sorting out problems with your dance teacher that they will usually not be aware that there is a problem. You have created a story about the issue being a problem in your mind – where as to others it might not even seem like one. If you are in attack mode demanding answers, a change or action to be taken, chances are your dance teacher will respond in defence.
If you approach your problem from a loving view point, your teacher will feel as though you are on their side, you are a team trying to work out what is best for your child and their school, because being a dance teacher can be isolating. Dance teacher’s do not have a support system like school teachers do, it is usually just them, the dance teacher. When a passionate parent approaches the situation through the lens of fear and scarcity, believing it is their right to tell their dance teacher everything they are doing wrong, a dance teacher will feel threatened or under attack and will choose flight, fright or freeze to protect themselves and their business- none of which is helpful to fixing your situation.
Putting it all Together!
Using all of the above tips will put you in the best position to resolve any problems with your dance teacher and we have given you a few examples of what putting these steps into action might look like in the real world.
You receive an email from your dance teacher advising you your term payment is late and they have imposed a late fee. You are adamant you never received any invoice and feel the late fee is insulting.
You take a break and distract yourself in anyway necessary, use the self compassion break if you need it. Once over your initial reaction spend a moment thinking about all the things you appreciate about your dance school and teacher and what it has done and is doing for your kid. You can then craft your email stating your position in a firm but kind way. Upon sending the email you could say the Hawaiian Ho’opnono prayer. After this your teacher might waive the fee or they may not… but you can always go back to the above suggestions to help you decide whether the issue is worth more drama or whether you need to be recite the serenity prayer, pay the fee and get over it.
You are chalk and cheese with another mother or your kid with another student at the school. You generally don’t have a problem with them, but they continually seem to make uncalled for comments about you or your child. You put this down to jealousy but it is beginning to get on your nerves and really wish your child’s dance teacher had a no tolerance policy to deal with issues such as these.
Sometimes not all problems need to be dealt with by your dance teacher.
Journaling and empathizing from the other parents or students point of view might give you some insight to the situation – perhaps you never say hello to them because you feel tension between you, how do you think this might make them feel? Talking to a listening partner might also help you see how you are co-creating this relationship whether it be you continuing to play the victim or if you are in fact an antagonizer too. The practice of a kindness meditation would help in softening any ill feelings you had towards the other parties. The meditation might allow you to shift and change your energy whilst in their presence allowing for tension to lessen. A prayer asking for guidance, or to allow love to enter you in regards to this person might also help soften your view of them and the situation.
If after trying all of these suggestions, it is clear the other parent or child just simply has a problem with you they can not get over, it would be important to schedule a time outside of classes to discuss the issue with your teacher to help you decide on the best course of action. By this stage you should be prepared to talk with them with clarity about the situation, but if not, you could practice first with your listening partner or write down what you want to say in your journal if you still feel too emotional about the whole situation.
You chose your dance school based on the previous years concert which you felt portrayed the school as employing appropriate costuming, dance moves and song choices for each age group of children. But you are seeing alot of booty shaking in your child’s recital routine which you think is totally inappropriate for your child and really just unnecessary.
If you are at the studio watching a lesson make sure you take a break as suggested above before speaking with your child’s dance teacher. If you are unable to talk with them after the lesson make sure you speak with them well before the next lesson as giving them this information just before they go to teach your child will not allow them the time to think about your concerns. Journal your issues or speak with a friend to gain clarity on exactly what you want to get across to your child’s dance teacher and before speaking with them go in with a heap of gratitude and appreciative thoughts that you have mustered. If they see your point and agree with you then fantastic and if they don’t, refer to the serenity prayer. It is at this point that you will need to make the decision as to whether you allow your child to participate or pull your child out of the recital routine, or the school. Byron Katies ‘the work’ could help you deal with your thoughts and issues in regards to this one!
This seems like alot of work for some small dilemas!
Our suggested solutions are just that, suggestions you might use only one or all of our tips in your interactions. The thing is that for some, a dancing school becomes their second home or family and positively resolving problems is vital in sustaining that relationship. But it doesn’t come naturally to all of us because we may never have had positive role models behaving like this in front of us when we were growing up. Our children are sponges, absorbing and watching our every word and action – resolving problems effectively with kindness and compassion can take practice and a little bit of work, but aren’t our children worth that?
Last but not least…
Like always we don’t have comments available on this article but we would love you to head over to our Instagram or Facebook page and comment on the post about this article with any of your tips on how to deal with dance teacher problems or to tell us if you used any of these suggestions and how they worked out for you!