Ep. 120 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 120 Transcript

[Motivational Intro Music]

Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! You're listening to the Passion for Dance podcast where we talk about mindset, motivation, and resilience in dance. Today, I am back with Dr. Megan Babkes-Stellino to answer some of your questions about dance parents.

If you missed part one, you could pause and go back to episode 115 if you’d like, but we had some great feedback and questions come in. So Dr. Megan graciously agreed to come back and share some more insights and advice on dealing with dance parents.

We talk about getting our dancers to give full effort and that we have to help dancers and parents understand that effort and ability are not the same thing. Then we heard from two dance teachers who have different assessments of a dancer’s ability than their parent does, and how do you deal with that conflict. And finally, Dr. Megan shares the three M’s of sport parenting, which you can then share with your dance parents to help create a better working relationship.

Because I’m always here to help make things a little simpler for you, I took a lot of the great advice that Dr. Megan shared and put it in a simple download you can grab right now. It’s at www.chelseapierotti.com/parents or in the show notes of this episode. The link will be right there as well. It’s called How to be a Mindful and Supportive Dance Parent, which you can share with the dance parents in your life, and I’m sure it will be helpful.

Okay, let’s get to your questions about dance parents with Dr. Megan!


[Motivational Intro Music]

Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!

[Motivational Intro Music]


Chelsea: Hi, Dr. Megan! Welcome back!

Megan: Hi! It’s great to be back!

Chelsea: I’m excited to have you! I had such great feedback after our first episode, so thank you again for being willing to come back and take a deeper dive into some of these questions.

So I want to share a couple questions that some of the audience sent into me and then after we answer those, I want to be sure — I’m gonna say it at the outset so that I remember to go back to the three M’s because we said we were gonna do that and then ran out of time. So I want to make sure you get to share that as well because I think it’ll be super helpful.

Megan: Perfect! Looking forward to it!

Question From Maria: Disconnect of Effort – 2:24

Chelsea: All right! So the first one I want to share is from Maria, and this is kind of what she had to say after our last conversion:

Maria Recording: Hi, Chelsea! This is Maria from the Peace Up Dance Team! Hey, I'm listening to episode 115 on your podcast, the one about dance parents, and, you guys, I had to pause the episode and do a voice memo, like, immediately because you guys were talking about the assumption of effort in children athletes and dancers, and this is something that I am so hugely interested in. And if you have any readings or information or studies on this that I could look into or follow up on, that would be amazing. It’s just not even with Peace Up Dance Team, but at my studio this is something that I’ve been seeing and have been a part of where the teachers are trying to get the kids to try harder, give it your all, exactly what you were saying in the podcast. And I do think that these kids are putting forth the effort, and I just don't know how to articulate this. I would just absolutely adore having any more information on this that you could provide. If you can shoot me an email or something, that’d be amazing. But loving the podcast! I’m gonna go finish it now, and hopefully I will get to talk to you soon! Thank you so much, Chelsea! Bye, bye.

Chelsea: Thanks, Maria! She’s so right. This disconnect of effort and understanding what we think it is, what they think it is, what parents think it is. What’re your thoughts listening to her?

Megan: Yeah, it’s such a huge topic, and there are really some core elements for us all to understand about effort, right? [Laughs] I think some of the issue comes from the fact that while effort is technically in a person’s control, right, so it’s not like luck or skill or natural talent. It’s something that we can give or take, and then it gets really messy when we’re looking at somebody else’s effort, and particularly, when it’s adults looking at children’s effort.

So I think the first response I have to that, without being too academic, is to realize that we don't often spell out what effort should look like. In other words, I’ll give a personal example. I’m often accused of not trying hard because I’ve learned to tamp down that effort, right? I don't want it to look like it’s hard, so maybe people think things come easily to me.

So shifting back to how it looks in kids, we could stand to do a couple of things. At the outset, as adults, as parents, as teachers, as coaches, we can kind of hit that and create a teachable moment there where we spell out, demonstrate all the various permutations of what effort or lack thereof might really look like. We also should set expectations, right? So what is indicative of effort? What is indicative of a lack of effort? You know, kind of give maybe the extremes to help identify where the middle ground is.

So I think when youth have an understanding of what’s expected of effort, then it can parlay into them asking questions, right? So if we never spell it out, and we just say to them, “Try harder, work harder,” or, “It doesn't look like you're trying,” what we’re doing is we’re kind of attacking them, and that puts them on the defensive and really puts them in this space where they don't know how to work with this “controllable aspect” of their endeavor. Does that make sense?

Chelsea: Absolutely. The controllable piece is huge I think, and maybe that’s because I go there so often I’m like, “Control the controllables. Action, concentration, effort.” Those are the things you can work on. I think what you were saying at the beginning of that, that effort, because we know it’s controllable, we just assume you can turn it up. We assume you can just dig in and there’s more in there.

Megan: Exactly. Exactly. But that brings me, actually, to the second part of what I would add to this. In order for teachers and parents and coaches to understand and really harness that effort that we want kids and students to be able to exemplify is that we have to tell them what it looks like so that they can make a decision, right? So within that control piece is this very loaded autonomy, right? So we want dancers to have autonomy and choice and for them to feel an internal locus of control over this effort issue, right? So if they don't know what it looks like, we’re ultimately taking their control away, right? We’re telling them to get somewhere that they don't know where they're supposed to be.

So their self-regulation is kind of — they can't grasp it. It’s not there for them to harness. If we tell them what effort looks like, if we tell them what effort doesn't look like, then what we do is we ultimately are satisfying some part of their basic psychological needs, right? We’re giving them this choice with this entity (effort) that is presumably controllable. And then if they're not given it or if they are, we’re now in a much better place to actually bring them to that space where they're satisfied, adults are satisfied, and they're really understanding and learning and developing something that’s really essential in terms of achievement and pursuing extracurricular activities.

Chelsea: Right. So I think, again, we assume that maybe there’s just this mental switch that you can just turn on, and if I’m watching a dancer and it looks like they're being lazy, right, then I feel like they should just work harder. They should just be able to find it, but I’m basing that on actions that I’m seeing. I don't actually know what’s going on in their head, right? But then the actions, to me, look like not a lot of effort, but maybe that’s not what it looks like to them or what it feels like to them.

So I think that defining piece is so interesting, like what it is and what it isn't so that you can point to the behaviors of, “I don't know what you're thinking about or what’s going on, but this is what I see,” and being able to talk about if that’s matching or not. 

Megan: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And I think sometimes effort ends up being a substitute for something else that we want as adults, right? And so, I think what I’ll also pepper in is that it’s developmental, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So we know there’s a lot of research that points to effort and ability are really one in the same early on in development, and then the older we get, the more cognitively mature, the more experience a person has, the more they differentiate effort and ability, and as a result of that, what we know is that if you’re more able, it means you had to put in less effort.

And then think about what a conundrum, right? Where does that put the adolescent dancer, right? Like, “I’m good, and that means I should be putting in less effort, and then coach is telling me put in more effort. Wait, so am I not good?” And then where I think this all really, in its very complicated way, what it pulls back to is sometimes what we want as coaches and parents is to see a different technique or a different skill, and effort is just our default, right? So it’s not, “Try harder.” It’s, “Do some part of what you're doing differently,” and then we can back off of how complicated that developmental piece of effort and ability is that’s ultimately being differentiated.

Chelsea: Yeah, oh, that makes so much sense. Okay, I have to boil that down in my own head, that especially when you're younger, that effort and ability are the same thing. So for a young child, that certainly makes sense, right? You're like, “Oh, well, if I’m just good at dance when I’m six, then that’s just fun. That’s who I am. I’m good at it. It’s not about how hard I work at it.”

Megan: Right.

Chelsea: But then as we get older and we realize, “No, those are very different things.” Your technical abilities and your talent and how much effort you put forward are different, but if we’ve been taught effort and ability are the same, and then coach is saying, “You're not giving me enough effort,” the message is you're not good enough.

Megan: Precisely.

Chelsea: Wow.

Megan: Yeah, so it’s very complicated. I end up with this image of younger individuals, when effort and ability are one in the same, when they go and they do, they are good and they are trying, and they're one in the same, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Like, “I’m gonna do this leap, and I did it!” Again, there is no developmental differentiation between doing and maximum effort because by doing, they are efforting.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: But as we develop, we start learning very, very profoundly that those who are better are so without having to try as hard. And so, then when we coach and we parent and we teach and we’re like, “Where’s your effort,” it’s like something’s lost in the humanity of the experience because I shouldn't have to try hard if I’m good, and that’s where I’m trying to pull in maybe an alternate mechanism of maybe it’s shifting a technique, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So, “Do this. Put your arm in a different way. Bend your leg a little bit more. Focus on the thoughts that are running through your head,” instead of just all-out effort.

Chelsea: Right. Oh, I think that’s huge, and I was talking to some other dance teachers, and we resonated with how much we just say, “Full out! I need full out!” But yeah, what about it is supposed to be full out? What are we not seeing and being more explicit about that. Because I do see that connection, that brings up all the fixed-mindset stuff, right? The dancers that are like, “It’s always come easy, so now if I have to work hard, that must mean I’m not good enough.” 

Megan: Right. Right.

Chelsea: But if all we're doing is yelling for more effort, that doesn't work.

Megan: Exactly! Yeah, and more effort can actually be a hot mess, right?

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: That full out may actually just be a disaster in terms of executing a skill or coordinating the behavior that’s supposed to emerge in success, right?

Chelsea: Yeah. Right.

Megan: Full-out effort, you know, I just think it’s that, “Argh,” kind of thing, and that’s not always what we really actually want, which just leads to a lot of confusion for the dancer, the performer, the athlete, right?

Chelsea: Yes.

Megan: Like, “Okay, now I have to dial that back.” So I think some precision around development, control, knowing what effort looks like and what it doesn't and giving that autonomy back to the athlete with that clear picture could certainly shift this whole effort conversation.

Chelsea: Okay, thank you. I love that. Okay, I’m so glad Maria asked. Thank you, Maria, for sending that!

Disconnect Between What Coach and Parent View as Child’s Ability – 15:27

Okay, so the second one — there’s an audio one, and then I’m gonna read a little bit from a second person who also submitted. They're both talking about when there’s a disconnect between what the coach and what the parent view as their child’s ability. They're not on the same page.

So here’s what the first one had to say:

Anonymous Speaker Recording: Hi, I have a parent that drives me nuts. Hmm, sounds probably like a familiar story. Her daughter has potential, not as a ballet dancer, but musical theatre. She has the passion, but the mother keeps pulling her out and saying, “She needs to have balance. She needs to not be here on this day and this day,” and then, of all things, she wanted her to be at a certain level because it was cheaper. This girl is 16 years old, and that’s part of her mental maturity. She should not be a lower-level dancer because mom wants it to be cheaper for her.

Any suggestions about how to handle a mother who just keeps pushing for her daughter to have balance who feels she has balance herself and wants to continue taking classes while the mother keeps pushing to diminish the hours that she’s in the studio as well? Thank you!

Chelsea: I have to say that when I first heard this one, I was like, “Wow!” [Laughs] Some of it is developmental, and I know you would be the first to advocate for multiple sports and balance and all that for when you're really young. She’s saying she’s 16, and the parent actually wants her to do less and hold back and not to be at a higher level. I think the financial piece is kind of a whole other aspect of that, but just wanting to hold her back is interesting.

Megan: Yeah. Right. Yeah, it’s really complex, right?

Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not usually that way. It’s usually the other way where the parent thinks the child is better than the teacher does.

And so, I had another — this was a studio teacher who wrote in with kind of that more typical issue, and she said:

“I’m reaching out to see if you have any advice on how to address parents and kids that are upset about not being moved up in ballet. We have a couple kids whose best friend is in the more advanced class, and they're the ones who are really eager to move up because it’s about the friends. So mom has emailed asking why her daughter hasn’t moved up, and the truth is, she doesn't apply herself or work very hard. Any tips on dealing with that parent?”

So it’s the opposite, but I think maybe a similar approach to both issues where the coach and the parent don't view the child’s ability as the same or what level is appropriate. They see it differently.

Megan: Yeah, similar but different, which is really complex.

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: So a couple of things. I think for coaches and parents I can’t help but bring up the need for allyship —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: — and really clear communication about just a few things, and in that short list, one of them is going to be criteria for whatever level of ballet. What are the criteria, what is expected in a more general sense, so it doesn't feel specific, because here’s the angle on the complexity is that parents are focused on their own kid. Coaches have to focus, arguably, on everybody’s kids. [Laughs]

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: And that's the apex of the challenge is —

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: — when I’m suggesting clear, clear criteria about this level of ballet, here are the prerequisites, when these are met, then the next level can be considered or if these criteria are not met, then a different level or different maybe class or style, right? So what are some alternates, and that’s where the work comes in. It’s certainly unenviable because we don't always have — there’s a lot of gray area, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So it’s easy for me to say set clear criteria, but arguably that will help with these issues of a lack of congruence between, “Well, my kid is amazing,” and the coaches and the teachers, right? You all are seeing a lot of variety, and there’s also effort to not put dancers and athletes in these defined boxes because they're so unique. But it’s what we have to deal with. So I think that’s that allyship. We’re all working towards the same goal. We want them to advance.

And so, that goes to the audio one around balance, right? If we’re not actually on the same page about working towards higher levels, more challenge, then perhaps this is not the right context. Maybe there’s a recreational version or there’s a different type of studio experience. But as that child is tracking, if the parent can't — they want something that they can't get out of the situation, yeah, as coaches we know you can't demand that, right?

Chelsea: Right. Yeah, and I always tell coaches it’s hard because a lot of these conversations, when the parents come to you like the one I was reading, it’s really about somebody else’s kid. The question is like, “Why is that kid in that class?” And I always say you have to stop it like, “I don't discuss anyone else’s child with another parent, just like I wouldn’t talk about your child with somebody else’s parent. This is about your child, and let’s stick there.”

But then, actually, what you were saying makes me think about one of your tips about being a really good mindful supportive dance parent — which reminds me we have a download for that. Everybody stick around, and I will make sure you get that. But the first one you were talking about having a conversation with parents and dancers about the why, like what’s the purpose of a child’s dance experience and the goals and why are we here and why are we participating. Because I think some of this, when the parent and the coach don't see the same level, I think there may actually be a disconnect between the parent and the child in what dance is about or what they're trying to do.

Megan: Yeah. Right? So there’s the parent agenda, and then there’s the child agenda, and we know, developmentally, that that really has its wonkiness, if you will, also, right? Where lots of parents — and I think this is really important for coaches — coaches, you know this because you see kids of different ages. You maybe work with the same kids over time, and you recognize it, and you don't necessarily have to have that overt conversation. But I think some recognition and appreciation for the fact that parents don't necessarily see those changes as they're happening for their children.

And so, a huge tip is that initiating, what I refer to sort of as a family mission, like, “What’s the mission? What’s the purpose? What’s the intention?” and get some clarity around that. Really focus the lens, and then revisit and revise at some regular interval. Maybe that’s per season, per year, and I think that the connection that coaches can have with parents around this is to actually initiate it, right? Like, “It might be time to reconnect with your kid on their why.”

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Like, do they want the same things out of dance as they did last year? Do they want the same? Do they want to be doing the same style? Do they want to be engaged at the same level? Whose expectations are we running off of?

Chelsea: Right. Yeah.

Megan: Because I think a lot of parents, these days especially, they’re gonna take one little nugget that their kid gives them like, “I want to be at the highest possible level,” and they say it in sort of a fleeting fashion without sometimes knowing how much work it’s gonna take, and the parent is like, “Yes! We –,” right?

Chelsea: Right.

Megan: Now it’s we. It’s not the child. “We’re gonna get there!” And then that’s where the coaches kind of end up in this situation of not knowing how to navigate the conversation with the parents.

Chelsea: Oh, I think that’s such good advice, and I was just talking with some studio owners recently, and they were talking about these parent meetings that tend to happen in the summer when we're re-evaluating what level are you in, how many competition routines are you in, and those conversations are happening. And the first making sure if a parent does request a meeting, that the child is there. I think the child should be a part of this conversation. Right? You're nodding at me.

Megan: Absolutely. Yeah.

Chelsea: [Laughs]

Megan: Right, so again, developmentally. But some of this is gonna go back to a lot of the parent issues are we don’t necessarily, as parents, recognize the changes that are happening in our child, and we’re headed towards that brass ring of accomplishment and achievement, and we inadvertently do a lot of the talking for our own child, which is really a disservice to everybody who’s involved because the extracurricular activity pursuits are a learning and developmental context where, of course, they should be there at any age, I would advocate.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And any parent — that is the coach’s — that’s an easy one to get out in front of, that any conversation about the athlete or the dancer, they need to be present because whether they have the skills to talk for themselves yet, that’s something that adults can bring to the context, which is beautiful and necessary.

Chelsea: Yeah, well, and like you were saying before, it’s about giving them autonomy, and if they're not even in the room, then clearly there’s no autonomy and no choice about what's happening. But I think the revisiting piece is interesting because we do, if a dancer at ten years old said, “I want to be a Rockette,” okay, great. Then this is where we’re going. This is all we’re gonna do. And then all of a sudden the child is 14 and they're like, “You know what? I don't really like tap. Maybe I really want to do hip-hop or maybe I like something else in school, and dance is just for fun now,” and that shift was never discussed at home, and so, we see the lack of effort in the studio, and the parents are like, “What’s going on? Why isn't my kid better? Why aren't you teaching my kid enough?” and it comes back on the coach. So you have to have that revisit of what’s the intention and what’s the purpose.

Megan: Yes, and normalizing that process is a benefit to everybody involved, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: Because it is absolutely 100% normal. It’s not changing their mind. It’s growing and developing, and with exposure and experience, again, normalizing that there might be a shift in the purpose, the intention, and then honing in on that with clarity can become a great foundation for the topic of effort, the, “Where should my kid be,” “This is where I think the student should be,” and having that conversation.

Aspects of Motivation – 28:11

I wanted to bring up one other piece that seems to be emerging from that last audio and especially the email that you read: aspects of motivation, right?

Chelsea: Mm-hmm.

Megan: So the social reasons are absolutely paramount, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: It’s part of being human. We strive for that connection, that relatedness, the longing, and we also know that not only is being with friends (like was mentioned in the email by that studio teacher) is salient. It satisfies our need for relatedness, but I also want to point out that it’s not just a primary motive, but it increases in its significance at adolescence and really does tend to override what teachers think, what parents think. It doesn't mean those adults go away, but the significance of, “I just want to be with my friends,” really becomes everything for these dancers or for these athletes. And so, it’s difficult period, right? When they can't be with their friends, we know from the research what happens. They can't be with their friends? They might quit.

And so, recognizing that, oh, that’s a huge challenge for coaches and teachers. How do you set it up when friends are not advancing at the same rate — going up or not hanging in there. But I think recognizing that we know, unequivocally, the importance of being with friends as it relates to the pursuit of accomplishments and achievements, maybe that helps for coaches to be able to say to parents, “Hey, I get it. I know that your child being with their friends is so important. Here are the challenges that we’re having because their group is ahead of them, or their group is lagging behind.” And so, maybe then brainstorming how can we find some spaces where kids in different levels can actually train together and satisfy that need for connection and relatedness.

Chelsea: Yeah, that’s such a good point, and I think it goes back to that ally conversation, but just saying, “I understand that this is a huge challenge, and I’m not ignoring that, so let’s work together to see how can we make that fit within the constraints of what we truly have here,” and making it work.

Now, I’m putting my parent hat on, and I was like, “I need to have this purpose conversation with my husband and my son about lacrosse.” We were just having this conversion about what to do for the fall, and  even if we “know” what’s right, I know what I should do, and then yet I’m listening to you talk, and I’m like, “So tonight’s dinner conversation is gonna be what is the purpose of lacrosse in our family right now, and how has that changed?” Because I think the how has it changed part is huge.

For dance, many of them start so young, that by the time you're talking about high school, you’ve got ten years and who knows how much money involved in this sport so that it’s really hard to be honest about what’s changed.

Megan: Yeah.

Chelsea: But that’s a huge part of the conversation.

Megan: Yeah, the investment piece is — yeah.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: It goes without saying. You know, and it’s on the tips for being a mindful and supportive dance parent as well is asking. That’s a vulnerability of parents. And then being able to have that allyship with coaches and teachers and being able to share. But it’s the asking the children what they want. Second, and more importantly, is listening, right?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So it feels like a little bit of a turning of the tables where, as adults, we’re like, “Hey kiddos, listen!” We want them to listen to us, and that is a sign of being coachable, right?

Chelsea: Mm-hmm.

Megan: But I think we have some responsibility in the coaching and parenting side of things to actually be asking and listening and then forging ahead with, again, that purpose, intention, and clarity and, like we already said, asking. You don't just ask once. [Laughs] Because it’s dynamic, and I think what we love about dance, what we love about sport is its dynamic nature. It’s not stagnant. So we have to create communication and connection patterns that mirror that nature.

Chelsea: Yes, thank you. I love that.

Three M’s of Sport Parenting – 33:10

Okay, I want to make sure we get to these three M’s of sport parenting. So will you share a little bit about what are the three M’s and how can that help coaches and teachers?

Megan: Yeah, so the three M’s, it’s just like a fun way to remember sort of the core roles that parents occupy. So it boils a lot (like in big shouty capital letters a lot) down to something very simple. In its complexity, parents’ roles encompass being providers of experience, being role models, and being interpreters of experience. That’s kind of wordy, and it’s not very utilitarian. So the three M’s is just easier to remember and easier to really reflect on throughout the journey of parenting and extracurricular activities.

So, switching to the M’s, the three M’s are: Manager, Model, and Meaning-Maker.

Chelsea: Okay.

Megan: And so, very simply, Manager is the provider of experience. So it’s all the management, right? It’s this studio, that style, this class, that location, right? It’s opportunities. It’s transportation. It’s logistics. It’s a lot to harness. But it’s a critical, critical role that youth don’t get these experiences unless parents harness that first M of Manager.

The second M is model, and so, we hear this a lot, like role model. The origins of being a model as a key role is in also doing the activity so that children can see their parents actually doing what they're going to do. This has evolved and transformed in a lot of ways, so there are so many ways that parents can be a model. How do parents advocate for themselves with others? How do they respond to challenge? How do they respond to success? How do they take care of their own wellbeing? What is their character, their integrity? What are their routines? So that list goes on.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So the second one is Model. And then the third M is Meaning-Maker. It really is the interpreter of experiences and making meaning of those opportunities that are provided through that first M of Management. What does it mean to move up? What does it mean to fail? How can feedback be incorporated? So that ties nicely back to that asking and listening and sharing and really coming to understanding about experiences.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So the three M’s!

Chelsea: Yes, thank you! The Meaning-Maker stands out to me so much because I think when a coach, like you said, maybe they make a coaching choice of this child is on JV or this child is not in this routine or they are in this routine or they're going to move up, and then the child takes that information home and is gonna hear from the parent one way or the other, like is this challenge an opportunity for growth or is this something we’re gonna go fight and complain and say is not okay? What is it? Because is JV or is not moving up, does that mean you're not good enough, or is the parent gonna have, hopefully, a more helpful, meaningful interpretation of that?

But yeah, for a parent to notice, “No, you can't control a coach’s choice necessarily, but you can be a big part of what’s the meaning of that, in our context, and how do we interpret that.”

Megan: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s process oriented, right? So Manage is in the background, right? They're doing, and their child may not be actually witnessing that, but it’s what makes everything happen, right? So that’s a key role. The modeling is what their child bears witness to, right? So it’s actions that they're taking and beliefs that they're sharing, and it’s how they're experiencing.

And then yeah, I can't agree more that the Meaning-Maker is so profound because we know that lots of experiences can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, and so, that Meaning-Maker role on the part of parents is really profound. For the coaches out there listening to this, that’s really, again, a connecting point. Sometimes parents don't know how to make meaning of something that has been kind of handed to the family, if you will.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: And so, that meaning making and a space for coaches to connect with parents is, “If you have questions about what this means, you and your child can come to me.”

Chelsea: Yeah. Right.

Megan: Because it’s so profound, and I think the parent default is when they don't know that their role is to know.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Megan: So just a space that I don't even have words for, right? You just lock up as a parent because you're like, “I should make meaning of this,” and, “Oh, it’s a lesson learned,” but at the same time they're like, “No, that actually stinks, and I’m pissed.” And so, where do they go with that?

Chelsea: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Megan: So the making meaning, sometimes it does really stink, right? And we can make meaning of that. So again, it’s, oh, that interpretation of experiences is really fluid in process and such, such an important role that I think a lot of parents are not quite brave enough. It takes some courage to make those interpretations, and I think that as coaches we can empower them to interpret the experiences.

Chelsea: Yeah. I think that’s a good take-home thought for coaches is to say sometimes if something happened, maybe you didn't place as high as you thought or, especially in the subjectivity of the dance world, the judges are making choices and comments, and they're coming back, and you know that it could potentially be a problem, right? Then the parents are, like you just said, gonna be stuck. Their kid is gonna be upset, and the parent wants to help, so they're gonna make up a meaning unless the coach is able to maybe help provide that. If the parent, especially parents, I was gonna say, who don't know about dance. But some of the ones who do are actually just as bad, right? But yeah, providing them that meaning of, “This is how I'm interpreting these events and what I’m telling our dancers and how I see this. Can you be an ally and support me in making this message happen at home?”

Megan: Precisely. Yeah.

Chelsea: So I think so many good ideas, and we mentioned a couple times these tips, so I just wanted to share, for those of you listening, if you want something concrete, we wanted to give you kind of the handout, something you can give to the parents to help start this conversation and help bring them on board.

So it’s a simple download: How to be a Mindful and Supportive Dance Parent. You’ll find the link in the show notes, and it’s also at www.chelseapierotti.com/120. This is episode 120, which is crazy, but that tip sheet is there for you and hopefully something that you can give to parents and start this kind of conversation about how they can be a supportive dance parent.

So thank you for providing that, Dr. Megan, and for talking with me today. Such good advice. Thank you so much!

Megan: You are so welcome. Yeah, just an honor to be able to have this conversation with you and provide some tips and just really open the discussion because, as I already mentioned, it’s dynamic. It’s such a rich opportunity for growth and development.

Chelsea: Yeah, I so agree.

Megan: So keep leaning in!

Chelsea: Yes, leaning in. Thank you so much!

Megan: You're welcome. Bye!

Chelsea: Bye!

[Motivational Outro Music]

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