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Tears at dance class, twin shyness, 4yo psychology... Help me!

(14 Posts)
BabiesComeWithHats Sat 28-Nov-15 13:52:36

Ok, this might be long, bear with me!

I have boy-girl DTs, 4yo. DD is the more articulate of the two, but DS is louder and a more forceful character. He has some obsessions interests that are HIS and he'll happily play with them for hours. He will involve DD in the game, and she'll play with him, but she's not driving it. By coincidence, almost all my mum friends have boys, so any meet ups we do she's surrounded by boys. At preschool she tended to trail after her brother. This year there's been a bit of an improvement but she still doesn't seem to be friends with most of the girls.

DH and I have often said how we'd like DD to have something that is hers. DD showed an interest in ballet, so I started taking her to a little class at the beginning of summer - 3yos running around in Disney dresses, very low key. It worked out that I could leave DS in childcare and take her on my own, so it was just about her and me.

DD spent the first few weeks refusing to take part unless I was right next to her, which is fine as it was the first time she'd ever done anyting on her own. I gradually moved from holding her hand to sitting on the floor to the chairs with the other mums. Another little girl she does like from pre-school was there, and although the first few times DD folder her arms and turned away, after a few weeks she would dance with her.

DH and i were INCREDIBLY positive whenever she joined in, DD was so proud of herself, loved showing DH what she'd done in class that day. Then, just as she was starting to get confident and settled there, the class time had to move and we couldn't go to that group any more, which was super annoying.

So, this term I took her to another class with some girls from her school - just no-one in her year group. The first week we arrived a little bit late and the class had already started, so I thought we'd just watch and then she could decide if she wanted to try it next time. Actually the teacher came over, took her hand and popped her in line, called out 'First position girls!'. DD, who had never heard of first position, looked around at the others, copied what they were doing, and got straight into it, all good!

Next week, took DS along who watched on my iPad while DD danced, joined in straight away, big confident voice talking to the teacher, no problem.

The 3rd week, DD fell asleep on the way there, sat down nicely with the others at the very beginning, then burst into tears as soon as the teacher got up to put the music on. I thought she might've been coming down with something so just let her sit with me rather than push it.

Then we missed a couple of weeks with illness/half term, took DD back, she crumpled into tears again. The teacher led her into the class and she joined in for almost all of it. Looking like she was being tortured, but she did it and enjoyed practising it at home. I thanked the teacher afterwards and thought we were making progress.

Took her yesterday - bottom lip started going from the outset, complete tears. The teacher tried to take her to the front of the class, DD stood with her but wouldn't do any of the exercises. I had DS with me and couldn't encourage DD and get him settled on the iPad so he kicked off, I had to take him out of hte hall where he was crying and yelling, DD was sobbing in the hall... it was basically hell! I could hear the teacher trying to encourage her valiantly, but it wasn't working out and when we went back in she ended up back on my lap.

So, obviously I can't take her back can I? We were pretty spectacularly disrupting the whole class and I felt TERRIBLE. But I don't get it. DD says she wants to go (I gave her the choice at the beginning of the day). She sometimes says she can't do one move or something, then we practice it in the hallway at home and she always can. The really really annoying thing is she's far from out of her depth there - she's not the youngest, and although the teacher is teaching them proper ballet, instead of how to be a duck or something, she can totally follow it. Some of the others clearly can't do it all, but are just having a laugh. She's was prancing around a home the other day and went right up on tip toes and held it for ages - when I told her most people would find that really difficult she just shrugged and said 'I know'.

Any thoughts?! Usually once DD has done something once she gets more confident, whereas with this it feels like we went 2 steps forward and 9 steps back for absolutely no reason!

Ferguson Sat 28-Nov-15 16:27:19

It's a shame you can't get DS looked after elsewhere, as DD would probably be more comfortable if he wasn't there.

At four, isn't she old enough to be able to EXPLAIN a bit about what she is feeling? How is she at school?

It probably isn't the first time the dance teacher has seen similar incidents! So, if DS can go elsewhere, and DD wants to try dancing again, you could consider carrying on the class; but obviously only if she does WANT to go.

BabiesComeWithHats Sat 28-Nov-15 16:44:50

Yes usually DS goes elsewhere (often to his DGMs. Yesterday he said he wanted to come with us, so I thought it would actually be better, because then DD wouldn't think she was missing out on a fun trip to Granny's!). I dont' think DD was sparking off him particularly, it just meant it was game over once the both kicked off simultaneously.

The only reason she could tell me was because she tired. That's probably because I gave them both a rollocking for getting up at stupid o'clock three days in a row and told them they'd be tired. But that doesnt' explain the escalation in sobbing/refusal to participate!

They're still preschool (old for year), and they say she's improved in terms of not following her brother around All the time - they've also done some nice subtle tweaks of the group so she's not with him so much - but I don't think she really plays with her own friends. Certainly not the way she does at home - she and DS have these brilliant games that can have them in fits of giggles. I can see DS playing naturally with other children, I hardly see DD doing it.

MiaowTheCat Sun 29-Nov-15 12:37:18

Sounds about normal - I've got a 3 1/2 year old who does dance classes (well dance classes in the sense of twirling around occasionally in time to the music and seeing what a racket you can make in tap shoes) and you get them having wibbles here and there and needing varying degrees of chivvying along (the staff are lovely at this though) - most of us have found being out of the room helps as they tend to act up if they can see you (so we all disappear off to chat in the corridor). Even DD1 who is normally VERY confident and outgoing had a moment of not wanting to join in at all the other week which isn't like her at all.

I've not got twins but I've got a very very narrow age gap (just under 11 months) and the same sort of combination of one very forceful personality and one much more of a follower and it is hard to juggle. I've actually snuk my younger DD (the follower) into the same dance class as her sister as it benefits the less confident one just to know she's there for a bit - but that's how the dynamic tends to work with my pair. Preschool separating them a little bit helped a lot as well - just gently pulling them into different activities from time to time.

VocationalGoat Sun 29-Nov-15 12:47:45

Is there a Little Gym close to you? I can't recommend it enough! Or maybe Rainbows for your daughter (once she's 5).
My daughter is 5 1/2 and is sensitive making transitions to activities a bit tricky.

Don't over schedule. Maybe your DD is just plain old tired. Try to keep life calm and not over-scheduled. From 3-4 my DD did ballet and it was not a pleasure for her. She prefers sitting around drawing at the kitchen table than socialising. It's OK not to be a social butterfly.

That being said she has absolutely thrived doing her class at The Little Gym. Money well spent!

VocationalGoat Sun 29-Nov-15 12:52:50

PS I don't work for Little Gym. grin
I sound like I'm blatantly endorsing it, which I sort of am only because it's been great for my daughter who is a bit similar in disposition to yours. 3-4 is a tough age though I've found with my older two children. I found it the toughest phase of all. flowers

MuddhaOfSuburbia Sun 29-Nov-15 12:56:41

I've got twin dds

I've had this sort of shy/panicky thing- even now they're big, it still crops up every now and then (only with mine it's compounded with comparison issues, as they share a lot of interests)

I'd say DO GO BACK. I know it's hard. But I can think of a couple of activities which were very tricky to start with- me sitting on the floor with sobbing DD on lap, edging closer to the action every week grin-now they are things both DDs love, and that make their lives much richer

(sorry- I know that sounds a bit revolting, but it's true)

good luck you and little DD flowers

BabiesComeWithHats Sun 29-Nov-15 20:56:56

Thanks for your input so far. We don't ave a Little Gym nearby, although they do both go to a gym class most weekends, and actually they both are funny about the joining in warm-up bit, but then always love the 1-1 bits, and then the group bit at the end.

Rainbows doesn't kick in for a good while yet for us - actually I need to follow that up as I emailed to put her on a waiting list ages ago and didn't get the follow up call.

Physically DD is very able - not as strong as DS, but actually much more balanced/poised/co-ordinated, which is why I'd love it if she could get past this mental block and start concentrating on the physical skills she's meant to be learning, because I think she'd gain a huge amount from it.

Interested to hear of anyone who's DC have lost confidence in something for no apparent reason whatsoever and how to get it back?

Or anyone with twins who can shed some light on how to handle one being in the shadow of the other?

BabiesComeWithHats Sun 29-Nov-15 20:57:27

ANd I think I'd better ask the teacher if she wants us back after last the past 3 week's performance!

Pico2 Sun 29-Nov-15 21:33:04

My DD (now 5) is possibly the most confident child I've met. At nursery she formed relationships with parents I'd never met and would happily chat to adult visitors. Her confidence has been commented on by lots of people. But she hasn't always been confident at extra curricular classes and pretty much every time I have been a bit surprised. I have found that she settles after a few sessions in ones where parents aren't in the room. But I have previously given up on ones where parents stay as she would stick to me like a limpet or yoyo back to me constantly.

There have still been some struggles to get DD to settle at activities where I am not in the room. I had to bribe her with chocolate to go into one class and she had to be peeled off me wailing for a couple of weeks for the other. She happily skips into both now and really enjoys them.

So I'd say that it's fairly standard behaviour at that age and it only seems out of place in some ways because she is the new girl in the class so the others have done their 'getting used to it' before you arrived. It might be worth trying a class with you out of the room.

Witchend Mon 30-Nov-15 12:46:30

I think you may find her better without the parents watching. At watch week, some of the most confident ones are totally put off by the wall of watching parents.

BabiesComeWithHats Mon 30-Nov-15 20:22:49

Sadly all the classes here seem to be parents in the room. Tbh I'm not sure I'd even get her in the hall right now if I wasn't there.

SevenSeconds Tue 01-Dec-15 20:59:46

Sorry, I don't have twins. But actually what you're describing sounds pretty normal for a 4yo, and I think you should definitely go back to the class. If I've read your OP correctly, it sounds like it was only last week that was an absolute nightmare (which happens to us all sometimes!) and the other sessions she was more or less fine with a bit of encouragement?

Cressandra Thu 03-Dec-15 00:29:28

I've been there. We gave up. Tried again a couple of terms later and she was a completely different child. Did the same with DS and swimming, only that took nearly 2 years to get back to. Life is too short to put a 4 year old under so much stress.

I think sometimes it's better not to be too effusive if she joins in. It can be effective, but it can add to what's quite a lot of pressure for her already.

Also turning up early, so it's quieter when she arrives, might help. She might be able to take a teddy to show the teacher or something.

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