How do I handle disruptive teenagers?

Q: One teenager in my class has made it clear to me that she is only taking dance classes because of her mother and that she does not want to be there. I have no idea how to handle her, but her blatant disregard for my authority and disruptions in class are having an effect on other students. What should I do?


A: Sometimes I find that if I give teenage students something extra to do or a little more responsibility, they make it through that little hump, because they feel like they’re a part of the team. If they feel that the studio is a place where they are valued, they’ll make the effort to get there.


If I suspect a student’s mother has said, “You’re 14 years old, and you’ve been sitting on the couch playing video games for too many years. I’m enrolling you in something,” that’s when I call the parents. I totally understand the concept of a mom keeping her kid busy, but if that student is not happy and not having fun, I suggest that she should be doing something else.


Hedy Perna is the owner of Perna Dance Center in Hazlet, NJ.

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