Q: Once the awards have been handed out at competitions, my kids’ reactions are all over the place if we don’t have a clean or even sweep of awards. Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with resulting jealousy issues and self-confidence problems that pop up?

A: Jealousy and low self-confidence are definitely two negative things that can come out of competition. It is important to educate your dancers and parents on why you do competitions.

We use competitions as a learning tool so that our students grow as dancers—to teach them sportsmanship and competition etiquette, such as remembering to wish their competitors “good luck” or telling them “good job” when they come off the stage. Competitions can be used as an incentive to work hard in class and to learn to appreciate the talents of others while simultaneously building self-esteem.

Teach your students to understand that it is about their personal performance, not the size of the trophy. My dancers know that if they danced well and lost I would be more proud of them than if they danced poorly and still managed to win. Dancers should never judge themselves through the eyes of others; they must be their own judges.

Understanding this should help keep everyone in a better place when receiving awards. As a parent and a teacher, I like to make a big deal out of a great performance rather than a big award. This keeps my dancers humble and always motivated to work hard and do their best in class and onstage. Dancers should compete only with their own best performances and never with anyone else’s.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning studio Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Ontario, Canada.

Photo courtesy of Dance Teacher Summit

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