Welcome back to Best Case Parenting. Recently, we have been tackling some pretty serious (and heavy) issues for parents of young children. Today, we are looking at something a bit more light hearted. After being around quite a few parenting forums, I found out that it is not only “embarrassing Dads” that have trouble dancing. Some parents are also worried about their own children not being good at this. So, is there anything a parent can do about this?
In short, not really (and you shouldn’t really worry!) Dancing is a somewhat natural process and unless your child has natural talent they may not be the best at dancing! However, all is not lost. By playing music to them from an early age, you can help them get a feeling for beat and rhythm. You could also find dance clubs or classes for your child if you are really serious about improving this!
Why do we expect our children to dance well?
I would imagine that this is the result of the ever more competitive school play or school show situation. Many parents love to compare their children to others (something educators repeatedly warn against :)), and a school performance is a great chance to do this.
However, when your child appears to not do this too well, some parents may worry that their child is different in some way.
Other than this, I think it is only if the parent has a strong interest and background in dancing or performing arts. Maybe you are a high level disco dancer and expect your child to follow the family tradition!
Maybe you simply dream about your child (as a teenager) being the star of their school disco or prom!
What components go into making a great dancer?
There is quite a debate within the expert dance communities about what exactly goes into making a top level dancer!
Someone that becomes good at dancing has to have an ability to time and coordinate their movements with the beat and rhythm of the music. Can someone learn this well or do they have to have natural ability.
This is the age old debate that revolves around the idea of nature vs nurture. Can people with natural talent be the only ones able to become great dancers? Or is it possible to nurture this with practise and coaching?
On the whole, most people seem to agree that a person with natural talent should find it easier to become a top level dancer. Someone with little or no natural talent can still achieve a great standard with practise and commitment. But the road will often be a rockier and longer one for those lacking in natural talent.
For most parents, this won’t really matter, as all they will be looking for is for their child to fit in better when dancing (and not stand out like a sore thumb!!)
What can we do to improve our children’s dancing?
Expose your child to music
If you want to raise “America’s next top dancer” ha ha, then it helps to get your child accustomed to listening to music. Preferably music with an obvious rhythm and beat.
You will find that children often make spontaneous movements or dances when they hear music over a prolonged period of time.
You can just use this as background music whilst they are playing.
If you have a toddler or young child that doesn’t dance to music, this could be your starting point.
Play dancing games
This could literally just be putting music on at home with your child and dancing together in a fun way.
It could also be a classic game such as the freeze game, where you put music on and your child has to freeze when the music stops.
With technology these days, there are also some more hi-tech ways you can get your child interested in and practising dancing!
There was quite a strong trend in recent years for dance based games. These have fun dance routines that your child could follow. Although the trend has died down somewhat, you can still find these games.
The main one is Just Dance for Kids. If you don’t have any consoles in your home already, you could probably find a cheap Nintendo Wii on the second hand market. This particular console had quite a few of these dance games on it, as this was right when the trend was at its strongest.
I find that most young children really enjoy these “Just Dance” style games, and it is the perfect way to make dancing a fun activity.
Use the magic of films and movies!
As well as traditional and video games, there are other ways your child can enjoy dancing in an interactive way.
There are a whole myriad of movies available, both old and new. This has been helped by the fact that musicals have recently come back into fashion. So the selection is even greater now if you are looking for musicals for your child to dance along to.
Of course, we can’t avoid talking about Disney in this situation. They have made so many excellent movies that are not really musicals, but incorporate high quality and fun musical acts into their movies.
If your child gets interested in these type of movies, they will probably start to get a natural desire to sing and dance!
Make your child a star!
Children really find it funny and interesting to watch themselves on the “big screen”. If you make videos of your child and family dancing, they will really enjoy watching these videos back.
In this age of amazing smart phones, it is super easy to do and will help cultivate an interest of dancing within your child.
Find a club or class in your local area
I would only do this if your child has already shown some interest in dancing and/or music! Trying to force your child into this probably will not end well.
Ideally, you could find formal dance lessons in your area. Often, these are ballet classes, but these days you can find a much more varied range and selection (depending on where you live).
You might also find some child focused dance clubs in your area, where people just get together to enjoy dancing.
Find a cool dancing Youtube video
Maybe a club or dancing class seems a little too much for you! Or there’s always the possibility you simply can’t find any in your local area.
An alternative would be to find a fun Youtube channel which has a focus on dancing. It would be great if this was child focused, but at the very least it needs to be child friendly.
It literally took me under a minute to find this example of a video below! I am sure you can do much better!!
Keep your child active!
Dancing is not only about the act of moving well to music! If you think about it, dancing is about moving your body with a good level of control and coordination too.
Therefore, keeping your child active will help them greatly with this. Dancing to a good level requires some pretty fine body movements (by fine, I mean small!). You can’t expect a child to be able to do this if they don’t often use their body actively.
A young child first starts with bigger movements. When these movements have started to build up their muscle control, they can then think about mastering those smaller and finer movements.
Get your child in the park, playing football, playing active games at home. Whatever it takes to get them practising using their bodies in an active way.
Lead by example
If you want your child to show an interest in dancing, the best way is to lead by example. Be a great role model for your child in this situation. Show them your interest in dancing, and often your child’s interest will follow. It doesn’t always happen, but it will definitely help.
Remember, you are your child’s number one and most important role model! If you have a negative attitude or disposition to dancing, they will probably have too!!
That’s all folks!
Thank you for reading our article. If you are a parent that has suddenly found out your child can’t dance well, at least you know there are things you can do if you want them to improve.
I understand that a lot of parents at least want their children to “fit in” as best as possible. If you feel dancing is a part of that (for whatever reason), then they don’t need to be the world’s best dancer. If they just at least look less awkward in these situations, I would call that an achievement!
I had fun tackling a somewhat different topic to those on this site recently. It’s nice to take a break from those super serious and deep parenting topics sometimes! Maybe some will mock me for going into so much detail for such an apparently simple issue. I just wanted this to be the ultimate resource for any parents who want their children to get better at dancing.
I am by no means the world’s biggest authority on children’s dancing, as you might imagine! So, we would love to hear from you if you are! Or maybe you have some experiences you would like to share about your child’s dancing! We would love to hear about all of this in the comments section below!