Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What do I do with this Prima Donna?


Sammie has always loved going to ballet. Here she is her two-year old ballet class. Adorable:




This year, she started tap as well. Everything was great until January. All of a sudden she refuses to go to dance. She cries, fakes a tummy ache, backache, elbow-ache to try to get out of going. I usually drag her there and hand her off to her teacher. She ends up being fine and enjoying it. Sammie is a little bit of a prima donna anyway and has pulled this same stuff with preschool, etc but is now fine with everything else except dance class.
Dance is on Monday mornings. Sometimes on Sunday nights, Sammie won't go to bed until she sees me cross ballet off my calendar with a black marker.

Here's the rub. I've already paid an exorbitant amount of money for recital fees, tickets, and her pink pig costume for the recital. She has told me numerous times she does not want to do the recital, she hates the piggy dance, etc.

What do I do? I know the obvious answer is not to force her to do it. But I wonder if she needs to learn that she is fine and it will be fun (She always enjoyes herself in class once she is there.)
I grew up dancing and want her to enjoy it but more importantly, I want her to overcome whatever fear or anxiety she has over it. After the recital in June, I'm pulling her out of dance but I want to make her finish it.

I need advice on what to do. Help

20 comments:

Jessica said...

It is all about BRIBERY! That's how parenting works. If you can get an autistic child living in his own bubble to raise his hand and wait his turn before checking out a new toy, you can get Sammie to go to her recital. If you have issues with bribery, call it positive reinforcement.

jacey said...

I can't remember how old Sammie is, but could you sit down and talk it through with her? Maybe use a reward system?- like each week she goes, she earns $ towards the purchase of something, or each minute she's in class she gets that equal amount of minutes doing something special with you? Maybe this can get you through until it's over. Would the ballet company let you take a break this spring and credit your money towards another session when Sammie's ready? To be honest, I wouldn't want to be a pig either. Or can they give you a refund? Good luck!

leandparkermakes3 said...

This is a tricky one. I had the same problem with Ellie last year. I was so excited for her to start dance and she HATED it! I pulled her out. The good news is, I started again this year (at a new place) and she is really enjoying it. Maybe she just needs a little time. It is hard though when you've paid for the performace and the costumes. Maybe she could just stick it out a few more months! Good luck!

brooke said...

We have tried every bribe you can think of--she can't be bought. The lady at the ballet studio asked me if I could just explain to her that mom has already paid for the recital. I was like "she's three, she doesn't care." I would totally pull her out if she didn't look like she was having fun once she's in there. SHe totally dances and looks like she loves it. It is just the knock-down drag-out getting to dance.

Liz said...

I have no advice to offer, but she is SOOOO cute in that outfit, I can see why you want her in.

Christie said...

That picture alone would make me want to force her to do it. SO, SO CUTE.

Does she have any friends in the class? I might try to invite another girl from the class over for a playdate. If she has a buddy there, she is much more likely to look forward to going. Good luck.

sheryl said...

I think Pandy will have the real answer.

My thoughts are that a three year old doesn't have the cognitive ability to reason it out with you. Her behavior could be all because of the pig outfit or something else. Try talking about how much you love the pig outfit and how lucky she is to get to wear it. Ex: Lets go show grandma that awsome outfit I wonder if you could teach grandma your dance... read her the three little pigs and let her know how she is the smart one because she is the one who will show up and dance so good at her recital.

Some theorists say behavior is purposeful. You have to figure out what her purpose in not wanting to go is. Is is power, attention, or revenge? Simply stated and not simply done would be identify her problem, don't engage in battle but offer solutions and let her choose or come up with appropriate consequences. Mostly...DONT ENGAGE IN BATTLE. ...then remember whose child she is. I remember a very strong willed little Brooke! Almost worked for birth control for me! LOL Isn't it nice to know they can grow up so nicely. And...

Of course, we all know my parenting skills lacked somewhere! so I still say ask Pandy.

Sam said...

I am wrapped around her finger and am in favor of not forcing her.

She will come around.

Jessica said...

Ok, if bribery doesn't work but she likes it when she is there, just ignore the pre-dance theatrics. Acknowledge her when she fakes sick, but don't make a big deal about it. (Really, you back hurts, that's a bummer, I'll help you put your leotard on if you can't do it because of your back.) If you really want her to stick it out to the recital, it sounds like she'll do it once you get her there, she just wants the attention. What remains to be seen is if she can break you and get you to give in. Good Luck!

Pandy said...

You sure come up with interesting questions. This situation brought to mind an experience that I had with Lindsay. I took her to ballet for months and she danced in a Beauty and the Beast recital. It was great and she looked adorable. I learned years later from Lindsay that the teacher scratched her and yelled at her if she sneezed. Evidently, it was a horrible experience for her. I didn't have a clue.

My point? Sheryl is right. Every behavior is caused by something. Do you have any idea what prompted the change in Sammie? I know this may sound condescending, but have you asked her why she doesn't want to go? Ordinarily, I would say just bag it, but since she enjoys it once she's there, I'm not so quick to say that.

There's another side that probably should be considered. If you give in every time she doesn't want to do something you're setting yourself up for big trouble. But, she's 3 not 13 and it's always important to choose your battles. Did she want to take the class to begin with or was it your idea? If you enrolled her because you liked dance and not because she wanted to go that could be part of the problem.

Wow, I'm making this too complicated. If it's traumatic for Sammie, it's not worth it. If she's manipulating, that would require a consequence....like, if you don't go to dance, you'll need to stay home (not do something that is more fun.)

Bottom line... is the peace worth the money you'll lose? And, I'm still stuck on why the change. Any insights?

Tyler said...

I haven't read all the other advice (who has the time) so I'm not sure if this has been said. But skip dance for a couple of weeks. Why force it? If she really likes to dance, then she'll miss it and want to go. If she doesn't...sunk costs. Let it go, and go with her other interests.

On those weeks you skip though you should make sure to drive by at just the right time so she sees her friends going to dance.

sarahw said...

Those pictures are so dang cute.

I'm still trying to figure out the 3 year old mind. Good luck!

Ashley said...

Funny, Tyler sort of said what I was going to say. The money you've already paid is a sunk cost. She's 3, so I wouldn't worry too much about the life lesson for Sammie. This is also not her last chance to start dancing. (I remember taking a class when I was about 3 and then really starting with Shauna when I was about 8.) I would base my decision on how much effort and pain it takes you to get her there. If it's a big pain, fuggitaboutit. I'm lazy though. I think there is a chance that if she doesn't go for a few weeks she'll start missing it. Maybe not though. Maybe you need to get her into Junior Jazz (basketball).

Ashley said...

Just read Pandy's comment. Go with what she said.

Linde said...

What a cute picture of Sammie! I would agree that there may be something causing it...would she tell you? Based on my small expeience with her in nursery she seems fine when she is comfortable with her situation. Maybe it is the fact that she doesn't want to be a pig--is it a cute enough costume for her? :)

Bill Sackewitz said...

I suggest taking her to Liz's recital in May...maybe seeing the hoopla and all the other little dancers she'll get excited about it. But that may be too far off to remedy the current situation.
Maybe you need to switch studios...I know a good one not to far from your house :)

Jill said...

We were feeling the same way about our girls and soccer. Pull them out and put them in dance. But we're going to have them finish the season. And actually they are doing much better. But I know what you mean, you don't want to force them to do things they don't like, but I also think there are valuable lessons in finishing what you started...in a reasonable time frame. I don't want my kids to be quitters!

brooke said...

This is all such good advice.

Bill--I think that is a great idea to come to Liz's recital in May and I will be switching over if I can convince Sammie to stay with dance.

All of the anxiety started one day back in January when there was a sub there. Then I had to run out to the car and get something and Sammie thought I was leaving her. Since then--we have the drama. The costume is a pink tutu with pig ears. No big deal. Anyway, I'm going to keep trying to get her to go since she has fun once she is there.

But if the drama gets to be too much, I'm bagging the recital--it may just not be worth my time to sit through the dress rehersal and recital anyway!

thanks again for all the great help.

Bonnie said...

I've never believed in forcing but I'm maybe a little too laid back with my kids sometimes. I just think if you give them some space they will find what they are passionate about and gravitate towards it on their own.. and that's my 2 cents. Beautiful pictures.

Mandee said...

What? You know Bill Sackewitz, too? Nuts. We really are the same person.

p.s. what did you decide.

p.p.s. if I had your phone number, I would call you right now.