Dancing in a national or regional dance competition is a big deal for many young dancers. When the results come out and they are not what your dancer hoped for, there are a number of reactions to expect. For some parents and dance coaches alike, you know there’s a possibility of an epic meltdown.

At Star Systems dance competitions, we try to create a fun environment that encourages all dancers to do their best. But, of course, at the end of the day students come to compete and we do announce winners and runner-ups in respective categories. We want every dancer to enjoy their time at the competition and to leave with a sense of pride for what they’ve accomplished, so today, we’re offering a little bit of advice on how to help your dancer deal with defeat.

Practice Makes Perfect

We don’t mean, “Practice your dance routine until you’re perfect so you’ll win.” We mean practice losing. When you play board games at home, do you let your kiddo win to avoid a meltdown? Games at home are a perfect safe space for kids to practice losing gracefully. Before playing a board game, just as before registering for a dance competition, explain to your young children how it all works. For example, if they land on a chute in Chutes & Ladders, they should know the rule is that they have to slide down it. This helps to avoid any “unfairness” later in the game. In the same way, dancers should understand that the judges have certain rules by which they determine the winners of dance competitions.

If your child bursts into tears or throws game pieces after losing a game, walk him or her through losing gracefully. When you lose, model this behavior. Talk about how fun it was to play the game, congratulate the winner, and suggest playing again sometime because you had so much fun – even though you lost.

Along those lines, help them understand why they lost. Sometimes we lose because our skills are not as strong as others’, in which case we can focus on what we need to improve for the next time. Other times, we lose because we were distracted and didn’t try our hardest, or we had bad luck or a bad call was made. While children often go directly to something being “unfair,” putting a rational reason behind losing can help children understand what to expect next time.

Share Your Own Losses

Perhaps you were a dancer growing up and had a particularly upsetting dance competition. Or maybe you didn’t win a spelling bee that you had practiced for or struck out on the final play in a baseball game. Share this with your children, let them know you can empathize with them. Avoid saying things like, “It doesn’t matter, it’s just a dance competition.” To your child, a dance competition might be the thing they have been looking forward to all year, and to them, it does matter. Let them know how you moved on from a big loss. Did you practice even harder? Did you identify what went wrong and focus on improving that? Did you eventually accept that you tried your best and that’s all that mattered?

Praise Good Winning And Good Losing Behavior

Just as losing gracefully is important, so it winning gracefully. Teach your child not to gloat, and to always give credit to other dancers where credit is due. Similarly, praise them when they exhibit healthy behaviors after a loss. Say something like, “I’m proud of you for giving it your all, and I’m especially proud that you’re keeping your head up.”

Experience The Fun Of A Dance Competition

A Star Systems dance competition is definitely not one to be missed. Every competition your dancer enters is an opportunity to expand both their dance skills and their social and emotional skills. Check out our list of dance competitions in 2018 and register today!