My 1yr old son loves to dance. He faces the music source, plants his feet into the ground, clucks his arms like a chicken whilst twirling his hands and bounces up and down giggling and smiling like dancing is the best thing ever! But his older brother is into soccer and basketball and his dad is hoping he will follow in his older brothers footsteps. So how do I, the Dance Parent convince him otherwise?
Should you put your son in a ballet or dance class? Yes, dancing is beneficial for boys and girls. It is a gender-neutral artform that can build character and improve many other important skills, even those used in sports.
Many parents, like my husband, never consider dance classes for their sons because they think dance is only for girls or is of no use to them. However, that kind of reasoning is completely false. Boys can benefit from attending dance classes – some men do go on to become professional dancers, but most others use their dance experience as a springboard for success within whatever career they choose to pursue. So, if your son wants to join a dance class, step up and let him reap the benefits of dance.
Why Dance is So Beneficial for Boys.
Many boys find pleasure and happiness in attending dance classes. They enjoy expressing themselves through dance and it is a great way to get out all their pent up energy and wiggles. Dancers learn many important skills that they can carry with them throughout their entire lives.
There are many important physical, social, and emotional benefits boys get from engaging in dance like:
- Boosting confidence
- Improving physical fitness and core strength
- Increasing flexibility and muscle dexterity
- Co-ordination is improvement
- Inspiring creativity
- Classroom Skills are Enhanced through Dance Classes.
- Teaches teamwork
- Builds resilience and grit
- Develops a growth mindset
- Encourages empathy and emotional intelligence
- Increased self-compassion
- Encourages him to value and respect females
- Dispels stereotypes
What could be better for your child than to let him explore something he loves? Especially when it can be such an empowering and healthy practice.
Still not convinced? Let’s unpack those dot points!
14 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Put Your Son in Dance Class
All kids have the desire to move! If you are still hesitant about putting your son in dance class, take a closer look at the reasons why it could be the best thing for him.
1. Dance Boosts Confidence
Dancing at home is one thing, dancing in front of other people is another! Many people feel exposed or vulnerable when putting themselves out there in front of others and the nature of a dance class and preparing for a performance, whether it be a small class display for parents or a big one in an auditorium can build confidence in your son that he may not find on any other platform. From being able to confidently stand in front of his peers for show and tell in first grade to being on the debate team in 8th grade, his performance experience as a dancer will greatly benefit his ability to stand up in front of others in various situations – I know this from experience.
Also, starting any new type of activity can be a challenge. However, conquering a new activity, getting through any rough bumps can definitely boost a person’s confidence as well.
2. Dance Improves Physical Fitness Skills and Core Strength
Sounds similar to the benefits of sports right? Dancers although primarily artists are also athletes. They train to be able to perform dance routines and in long shows. I can remember myself at the age of 14 being in almost 15 items in my dance recital! To train for this we would repeat each 3-minute routine over and over again, full out, which means with all our energy and unfortunately – dance teachers are infamous for saying – just one more time, repeatedly. The fitness you gain from repeating not just routines but exercises in dance class are phenomenal and it meant for me that even without any specific running training I easily got onto the long distance running team every year at school!
Another important aspect of physical fitness for everyone is developing core strength. When dancing, the core muscles should be activated at all times to ensure correct alignment, help with balance and prevent injury. Developing core strength is what good dance teachers, teach their students. This kind of natural activation can build six-packs many avid gym-goers only dream of, but it also strengthens all those other essential muscles within the abdominal region and back that regular sit-ups by themselves just don’t reach. Core strength is important as these muscles support your whole body and learning how to activate them at an early age can ensure that when your son is older he won’t be the one who pulls his back out lifting boxes as he moves out for college.
3. Dance Increases Flexibility and Muscle Dexterity
Dance classes will teach your son to stretch, build muscles, and tone his overall body structure which will allow him to have more control and proficiency in using them also known as muscle dexterity.
Developing flexibility and learning how to stretch safely are important skills. Flexibility means that his joints will have more mobility and in turn, that means he will have better posture and balance, he will be less prone to injury, he will experience fewer aches and pains in doing everyday activities and his ability to physically perform any task will be improved.
4. Co-ordination is Improved Through Dance Lessons
Co-ordination is all about developing neural pathways and nerve connections between the brain and body that communicate efficiently! And the best way of doing this is by giving your sons body and brain a lot of practice to enable lots and lots of these neural pathways to be established. Dance challenges the brain to organize and balance the body in different shapes and controlling the body to go quickly or even slowly through different movement patterns by copying others, and listening, feeling, moving and through repetition. The earlier these neural pathways are activated and established the better chance they have of growing roots that become natural so that your son moves with ease and confidence in everything he does and tries.
5. Dance Promotes Self-Discipline
Dance classes promote self-discipline. The concentration on learning steps and choreography, as well as the rules within dance class, all add up to the development of self-control.
Even the act of attending regular classes consistently will help develop self-discipline. Learning that you still need to go to class when you are feeling sad or angry or stressed is important. Learning that by going home and practicing those new steps you learned and seeing the improvement in the next class teaches that self-driven practice and hard work can be intrinsically rewarding.
Dancing is easy to do, but not easy to master, therefore it takes a lot of self-discipline to become better at it!
6. Dance Inspires Creativity
Dancing is an art form and it will give your son a creative outlet. Even if he is not the creator of the choreography, it is a dancers artistry, how they interpret movement that gives dance expression and life. Using your body creatively can be very fulfilling.
Learning to dance allows your son to explore different ways of solving problems. How can I move my body from here to there in an interesting way, what kind of movement or mood goes best with this music, how do I get onto the floor from that leap without hurting myself? Learning to dance can develop creative thinking and solutions and teaches your son to think outside of the box which is a skill needed to get ahead in life in general.
7. Classroom Skills are Enhanced through Dance Classes.
For boys who have trouble sitting still, focusing on one specific thing for very long, or who tend to get distracted easily, dance class could be the answer. In a dance class, you need to listen carefully and follow directions. You need to have patience as the teacher works with another student or as you wait while the teacher finds the correct music, or as you wait for your turn in line to do corner and traveling movements across the room. Dance will teach your son how to respect his peers and acknowledge that everyone learns differently and has different capabilities.
8. Dance Teaches Teamwork
Working towards a performance where your son is one dancer of many in a group, will help him learn how to be part of a team. Group dances focus on dancing in unison, in patterns, and in cannon. They sometimes include partner work where you work closely with another dancer as well. You learn you need to rely upon and trust others to do their part for the team and retrospectively you have to do your best so that everyone’s hard work can be celebrated. It will teach him that his team is relying on him to show up on time to rehearsals and performances because everyone counts on each other to turn up and work hard.
9. Dance Builds Resilience and Grit
“…grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.”
― Angela Duckworth, Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success
Ask any dancer male or female what are the hardest things about being a dancer and they will tell you – the amount of practice and perseverance it takes to become good at dancing and the criticism, rejection, and disappointment that comes with being a dancer.
Not all dancers make it and turn pro, but the rejection and disappointment begins much earlier than this. From the first class when a teacher tells you, you are not pointing your foot correctly to not being chosen for the front row in your best dance styles, recital routine, disappointment comes early. It is by learning to get through these failures and setbacks that resilience and grit develop and it will make your son emotionally strong and able to pick himself back up in the future when he doesn’t get the college position he dreamed of or the job he interviewed for.
10. Dance Promotes a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck through her research developed the philosophy that we either develop a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is when we believe that we have a capped potential for talent, learning and, growth whereas a growth mindset is defined as being able to acknowledge that if work harder and try again we are always able to get better at something. Carol’s studies were based on finding out why some people are successful whilst others are constantly making excuses, quitting and not reaching their potential.
Dance will teach your son that he has unlimited potential to grow and get better. Each time he fails or doesn’t get something quite right in dance class he is taught to try and try again until he does. He is taught failure will happen and that it is not a bad thing, the worst thing would be not getting up and trying again. He will find out that he is always capable of learning more, achieving more and becoming better.
11. Dance Encourages Boys to Develop Empathy and Greater Emotional Intelligence
Dance because it is so creative can be an outlet to help your son express his emotions. The fact is many boys are taught to hide their emotions. Oftentimes, boys will keep everything bottled up inside of them. This can end in disaster with meltdowns, tantrums, and fighting between friends, or parents and siblings.
Fortunately, if your son is having trouble expressing his anger, fear, or other emotions, dance is the perfect outlet. He will learn how to show emotion through dance and creativity. He might need to be soft and graceful projecting sadness for a certain dance, even angry and aggressive using dynamic movements for another. Dance is all about storytelling and the dancer needs to be able to portray the story by feeling the emotions behind the character they are portraying not just through their movements. This could be the key to unlocking your son’s emotions. You might find your son doesn’t have the desire to lash out once you put him in dance class.
12. Dance Enhances Self-Compassion
For years there has been a lot of talk about how important it is to have good self-esteem and dancing will challenge your son to push the boundaries of both his mind and the body which will help him develop this.
But Dr. Kristen Neff the current leading researcher into self-compassion began her journey by initially researching self-esteem only to find that building self-esteem usually means you are judging yourself against the merits of others. Having too much self-esteem can lead to narcissistic behaviors and can mean we put others down to feel better about ourselves.
Self-compassion, on the other hand, does not mean you have to feel you are better than others to feel good about your self. Compassion is noticing that someone is suffering and acting with kindness towards them, Self-compassion is noticing that you are suffering and treating yourself with kindness just as you would someone else. It is learned when your son shares his experiences with his dance colleagues and listens to them and is able to empathize with them and give them compassion – Hmm I agree learning that turn routine was really hard, but we got it in end or Yeah, I know dancing on stage can be really nerve-racking, but once your out there you are awesome! – and in turn, he can respond to himself with self-compassion and instead of saying to himself I am so dumb I can’t do this, he will learn to say – That turn routine is hard, it’s ok I didn’t get it the first time neither did anyone else or Nerves are normal I am not a failure for feeling nervous.
13. Dance Will Encourage Your Son to Value and Respect Females
I think this is a really underrated and very rarely talked about aspect of dancing. So many people joke that dancing is great for boys because chances are they will be 1 or 2 among 10 or more girls with the connotation being it will be easy for them to land a girlfriend because of it. Now, this might be true because the more a boy is around girls who aren’t a relative the more comfortable he will become in his ability to confidently talk and be friends with them. But let’s reverse this and say yes dancing is an art dominated by females and boys are generally the minority and this is a good thing especially if your son is an only child or has no sisters because his perception, compassion, and understanding of the opposite sex, in general, will be greatly widened by his increased interaction with females. He will learn to respect females in ways that many men never do because the only role models they may have seen never treated women as equals.
14. Dance Dispels Stereotypes
A common stereotype is that dancing is just for girls. Unfortunately, many people believe this crazy notion. However, you and your family can help dispel this common stereotype by enrolling your son in dance classes.
Along with helping to break down this societal conditioning and setting a good example to your children, you will be encouraging your son to make his own mind up not just now but in the future about doing things he likes and is passionate about even when no one else is really doing them yet – the mark of a successful entrepreneur!
Don’t let the stereotype that only girls do ballet deter you from letting your son enroll in one or more dance classes. Consider all the benefits of putting your son into dance. It will help boost his confidence, improve his physical fitness skills, promote self-discipline, inspire his creativity, enhance his self-esteem, dispel stereotypes, and much more. Enrolling your son in a dance class can help him become a confident, well-rounded, and nurturing human being.
For even more information about boys and dance keep an eye out for several articles we are just finishing the research on and will be posting soon!