Ask the Experts: Getting Parents on Board

Q: I'm tired of parents making excuses for their children about tardiness, not applying corrections and lack of motivation. How do I get parents on board with me?


A: I agree with you that parents are too quick to make excuses for their children. The message these “excuse parents" are sending their children is: “I can do what I want—my parents will protect me." Their kids end up lacking confidence to make good decisions—the confidence that comes from dealing with consequences.

I encourage dancers to take personal responsibility for their behavior. When students come to my class late or fail to apply corrections, I comment on it openly, in front of the class and often with the door open, so anyone watching or listening can hear. I am never mean or condescending, but I make sure they know I'm disappointed in their performance.

I will not speak to parents of dancers older than 13 unless the dancer is present. This protects my relationship with my students, because they don't feel that we're talking behind their backs. At my competition team meeting in October, I let my parents know that all dancers will be held accountable for their actions. I know a 10-year-old doesn't drive herself to class, but she's still responsible for being on time. Get parents on board by clearly outlining what your expectations are, why you have them and how you'll handle the situation if they aren't met.

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