How to Help Your Child Feel Included in Dance Class

March 8th, 2016 by Roy Patterson

Photo credit: King Shots Photography

Photo credit: King Shots Photography

Being part of a dance family is fantastic! Your children get to learn so much more than just the steps they are dancing. They get to learn how to get along with others, resolve conflicts, and compromise. In short, you and your child learn about being part of a team.

All humans have a desire to be included and to be part of the group. The hardest part of being part of a big dance family is when your child doesn’t quite feel like she or he belongs.

Here are my top five strategies for what to do when your dancing star feels like they are in their own constellation:

  1. Sympathize and then move on. Focusing on feeling like an outsider does not make it any better, but it makes it worse. Give your dancer the space to vent and share their feelings. Validate those feelings: “Yes, I hear how frustrated you are.” or “Wow, that does sound hard.” Move on after she or he has expressed how they are feeling. Change the conversation or find something that needs to happen right then. I especially recommend physical moving to shake out that energy.
  2. Don’t add fuel to the fire. The more you can stay neutral, the better. Will verbally pulling apart another child actually help the situation? Pointing out how right your child is might make him feel better in the moment but it won’t help him or her be part of the group.
  3. Work on individual relationships. Rather than working with your child to be connected to the entire dance class, find just one possible friend. Having one friend can build his or her confidence and enjoyment in their dance class.
  4. Perception is not reality. Sometimes your dancer may feel like an outsider, but others in the class feel like they are part of the group. Do not negate your child’s feeling but gently work on clarifying the actual dynamics. Talk about what is actually happening, what others are saying, and what she or he is saying. Offer ways to help bring them into the group, like saying “hi” to friends when they get to class. Small things can go really far in being part of the group.
  5. Fake it till you make it. The best way to become an insider is to act as if you are an insider. If you act as if you are part of the group, after a while you become part of the group. Encourage your dancer to join in without waiting to be included. Sometimes it might be as simple as acting as if she or he already is in the mix. By default, if they are in the same dance class or on the same dance team, they are included. Now it is just up to your dancer to believe it!


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Dr. Marcie is a behavioral specialist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands offamilies over 15 years and has condensed her observations into her practice and programs.