Thursday, February 11, 2010

Somebody Please Hold Me Back...

The Not-So-Little One has been the recipient of some hurtful behavior as of late. The worst of it is that the perpetrator is an adult. An educator. Someone that my daughter admires and desperately wants to please.

So far she has had little to no success.

Apparently this instructor does not subscribe to the scientifically proven notion that positive reinforcement is an effective method of shaping behavior. Rather,this intructor seems to believe that the way to get a kid to improve is to belittle her. As a performer, I certainly have experienced this approach to teaching. But as a mother and a trained therapist, I am struggling with this.

The situation came to a head on Saturday after the Not-So-Little One delivered the best public dance performance of her 9-year career. She mentioned on the way home that prior to going on stage aforementioned instructor told her (in front of her peers) that she did not know the routine and had no business dancing with the rest of the company.

There is plenty wrong with this picture, not the least of which is that it is counterproductive to dress down a young dancer moments before a performance. She could have easily paralyzed my daughter with fear, setting her up for failure. I'm an adult, for God's sake, and I'm pretty sure that would not have boosted my confidence.

The most disturbing thing is that I have discussed my daughter's neurosocial disorder with this woman again and again. Every time it is as if we've never talked about it. Individuals with neurosocial disorders have difficulty connecting with others. Hence the "-social" part of the diagnosis. If her peers in the dance company buy into the belief that she is the reason they are not successful, how will she ever be able to bond with them?

(Ironically, the instructor complains that the girls in the company do not seem to be bonding. Hmmm... )

I've learned something valuable through this ordeal. My daughter is resilient. Just as I am about to turn the car around to hunt this instructor down and give her a piece of my mind, the Not-So-Little One says, "I think I did a good job. I did what you and (The Little One) suggested. I proved her wrong." We agreed that my intervention might make matters worse for her.

She went on to say that she does not want to enroll in another dance studio. She says that "she's just one person" and that "the rest are like family to me." I will do my best to let my daughter cope with this situation with the grace she has already shown. I have been humbled into inaction.

I want her to get a quality dance education. I want her to be successful. Mostly I want her to be happy. I'm immeasurably relieved that she has the skills to deal with this difficult person. She's handling it better than I.

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