Dance can raise self esteem in teens and young children and help them grow in many positive ways. The physical exercise is an obvious benefit of dance. But the benefits extend well beyond that.
Teenagers, in particular, are at a point in their life where they start trying to figure life out and sometimes struggle to do it. Movement can help teens to develop through this difficult period in so many ways.
Builds confidence and self-esteem – peer pressure, bullying and many other things can put a dent in a kids confidence, no matter what age they are. Dance can provide a big dose of self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence. When performing in front of people, they have to take a few risks by putting themselves out there and their confidence and belief in themselves increases.
Builds social skills – Sometimes the teenage years can be challenging socially, to say the least. It can be hard for them to open up and meet people who then really identify with. Dance is a great way to connect with a diverse group who all come together for a shared interest. They become confident in themselves and who they are as a person. This confidence will help them be more comfortable with socialising.
Nutrition – Dancers need healthy in order to take care of their bodies, so they can have the ability to perform the moves that they want. A good teacher will teach their pupils about healthy nutrition. This will help teenagers benefit in their health and growth.
Discipline – Teens want be independent by doing what they want when they want. The discipline taught in dance classes learning routines, rehearsing the same routine over and over for shows and exams, practicing and continuing to improve their skills and abilities encourages self discipline and can help teenagers learn to be independent in a healthy way. Learning to be independent and have self-discipline isn’t a bad thing. It’s a skill for life – without discipline, it is not very easy at all to get to the next level…in dance or in life.
Improve memory – Since dancing means constantly learning new dances it activates the part of the brain that works with memory and muscle memory. As a result kids who dance become used to memorising information quickly and that can translate to other areas of their life, such as school. This can help them get better grades at school, study for exams and build long-term memory.
Learn to work for what they want – Dancers have to work hard and practice to have their dance moves perfected and achieve the goals that they want, whether that’s in class, in their exams or in their show performances. They learn quickly the rewards of self-discipline and hard work. This is a great way for children to learn to work for what they want in their daily life.
The ability to perform without fear – Kids who learn to perform in front of audiences without fear or stage fright gain confidence in their abilities. They are taking a few risks by putting themselves out there in front of an audience, and their self-confidence grows and their sense of joy in life can increase. They also gain showmanship and performance abilities which also teach them to have a strong work ethic when they are old enough to have a job.
So dance teaches them not only the skills of dancing but also how to follow directions, get along with others, the values of teamwork and self-respect, how to communicate well with each other, how to deal with setbacks, how to overcome their fears and creating a culture of body positivity.
When someone has low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes. These can involve school work, making friends, and trying new activities, which are all important parts of a healthy teenage life.
If the low self-esteem is not identified and treated, then it can lead to problems such as:
- relationship troubles or difficulty making friends
- -negative moods such as feeling sad, anxious, ashamed or angry
- low motivation
- poor body image
- earlier sexual activity
- drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs to feel better
A child with low self-esteem will more than likely be having negative thoughts about their worth and value as a person. Some general signs that your child has low self-esteem include:
- avoiding new things and not taking up opportunities
- feeling unloved and unwanted
- blaming others for their own mistakes
- -not being able to deal with normal levels of frustration
- -negative self-talk and comparisons to others
- fear of failure or embarrassment
- difficulty making friends
- low levels of motivation and interest
- can’t take compliments and shows mixed feelings of anxiety or stress.
With this knowledge, Motion Control Dance discussed how our teen dancers were feeling to see whether dance could help them change their mood. From the results, quite a large number of them said they felt depressed, didnt feel like they were good enough, even a small proportion have self harmed and had suicidal thoughts. This was a great concern for us as dance tutors. We had to revisit our teaching methods, to see if this helped them feel better about themselves. As community dance practitioners we were focused upon the following areas:
- Empathy – to show the young dancers that they feel recognised and valued members
- Developing their Potential – focusing upon individual competencies
- Setting Realistic Standards of Achievement – nurturing and rewarding each step towards their goals
- Valuing All Participants – creating a safe and respectful environment to support and encourage their learning experience. Praising participants where appropriate and to make them feel they can do it.
- Democratic Leadership – by valuing everyone’s voice and involving each dancer in our decision making processes.
- Observations Skills – to assess group and individual processes by being open and objective and to intervene where needed.
We are hoping that we can make a difference to their lives through dance which will help with raise more of a positive mental outlook upon themselves.
There are things you can do to support your child to have positive self-esteem, but it’s also important to remember that teenage self-esteem develops and changes quite frequently overtime. According to the charity MIND there are a number of ways we can improve our self-esteem, especially now whilst we are all in lockdown:
- Avoiding negative talk
- Connecting with people who love you
- Learn to be assertive
- Set yourself a challenge
- Focus on your positives
- Take care of yourself
- Get support if things get too much
For more information on self-esteem, visit the Mind website.
For more information on dance classes for teens in the Vale of Glamorgan please email firstname.lastname@example.org