You’ve paid for the dance lessons, bought the class uniform and shoes.
At home, before class, you’re wiping the last telltale signs of pizza sauce off, getting your young child to the bathroom and praying you remember where the dance bag is.
You feel the manic push to be on time.
Then you’re laundry diving to locate the leotard and you’re not sure if it’s in the clean or dirty pile, but either way it will work.
In super hero feat you manage to talk your budding dancer into getting into the car instead of staying at home to play.
You can relate. There are many mornings you’d like to stay and play.
Feeling stress oozing out, you stuff it in so the child doesn’t see and focus on driving in traffic and answering your child’s random questions.
But then you hear: “Can you go back home and get my Disney Princess costume? I want to wear THAT in dance class!”
As you feel your whole body stiffen with fear over the possible impending missile sequence launch that could occur any minute over a Disney Princess costume, you hope that by hoping you didn’t hear, all will be well.
You vaguely notice you’re doing less breathing than a mommy in Lamaze class.
Holding your breath, is the go-to-subconscious-protection-move as though that will ward off a blow.
If you know someone is going to hit you, you reflexively tighten up and stop breathing.
The Disney costume could be just such a hit.
Now the Disney costume could be a request that is forgotten by said child at the first sight of McDonald’s golden arches through the car window, or it could be a demand.
Child demand = the end of your world peace.
All parents fear the dreaded parent-hostage situation:
The Child Who Makes a Demand When You’re Entering a Public Building.
You arrive to the dance studio and the Disney costume retrieval is indeed a demand and the missile sequence launch by your little one has begun:
-Red face with sobs and a touch of gasping for air.
-Sudden abs core strength of an adult male body builder as they dig their heels in, lean back and you can’t move them forward. This of course is played out in front of the building you are entering.
-As people are passing you, your child is engaged in some loud lashing out words and some swatting you away.
As you try to get your child through the front doors, thinking it’d be easier to get a stroller with twins, two diaper bags and two suitcases through faster, you are in nuclear ready-to-blow mode.
Thinking that everyone is judging you, that you must be a bad parent or at least an ineffective parent, and why-oh-why does this have to happen to me when my only crime was to do something positive for my child and give them dance lessons, is banging so loudly in your body and head that all you can manage is to look down at your child and wish the tantrum would stop.
You turn on your I-want-you-to-stop parent high beams.
The child is still crying. You want desperately to cry.
Then in this tensed-up, non-oxygenated state you make a seemingly logical conclusion: let’s quit dance.
Part of you knows that staying at home and never doing dance is not the answer, but right now you feel like doing exactly that.
You just want the unpredictability of your child’s emotions to stop. Now.
As someone who has been through this, and as a coach, I have so many tips for all of this, but let me throw out a couple here to ease up the unpredictability of a tantrum that is not due to a child getting ill or a fever.
Tip #1 For the child
The night before the dancing class, organize the dance bag with your child’s participation.
Feel helpful to your child as you feel the fun of being a team in search of the class uniform, shoes, etc. and putting them in the dance bag.
Feel pride as you let your child set the bag at the door and watch them beam.
This helps your child develop responsibility and independence.
Feel confidence in your child as you ask her or him to carry their dance bag to the car the next day.
Do you see how you just reduced the franticness of the before-the-class panic?
Instead of you investing energy getting to the dance class, they just invested their energy into their education!
Tip #2 For the child
In the morning, make it a routine that when they wake-up, you feel inclusive of your child by telling them that it’s dance day and that after school, or nap, etc. you’ll be driving both of you to dance class so they can learn about dancing.
Dance feels fun for many children, but the emphasis needs to be on learning.
Framing dance class as learning instead of fun, feels helpful to your child as they separate out the need to bring toys to a play activity vs. a learning activity (that happens to be fun).
You feel great because you gave your child some definition about what is going on in their life.
By preparing your child in the morning, they can spend the day feeling included about the late afternoon activities.
You feel wonderful having a team buddy.
Tip #3 For you
Feel love when you do Tip #1 and #2 with your child.
By feeling yourself in your most loving centered state, the child LOVES this and will cooperate.
They will associate getting ready for their activity as loving. It will become a ritual that serves both of you.
How do you get in a loving state when life is so full of fears, stresses and strains?!?
There are several ways, and some will appeal more to you than others.
Here’s two quick proven ways:
1) Feel your feelings. When you feel frantic, stop…even for two seconds and acknowledge inside of you: “wow, I feel frantic”. I feel overwhelmed. I feel life is too much.
The more you feel each of these in the moment, you won’t stuff them inside until you feel like blowing up like a bomb.
It’s a way to take care of yourself, by handling your feelings as they come and this will be fantastic modeling for your child.
When we stuff our feelings and don’t pay them any attention, they are still there–all of that negative energy—and some part of us feels it.
Your body is only designed to hold so much toxin before it has to be released.
2) Fall in love with the chaos of raising a child.
Spaghetti on the floor and the dog is licking it up? Love it.
Macaroni on the dining room table and your children are wallowing in it? Love it.
Child has a meltdown in public? Love it. Every single person in that public space has endured this. They are only looking to see if you have a magic way of handling it!
At the end of the day, worn out and being hard on yourself? Love it. Love everything about you.