Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Second Chances

It's easy to get mad when you are a mom and you feel like your child is being treated unfairly, or that your parenting is being questioned. I'll be the first to admit that I let my emotions get a little out of hand sometimes. Looking back on how I reacted after Addie's ballet class, I wish I would have had the ability to put my own insecurities as a parent aside so that I could really understand what the teacher was trying to do for Addie. I saw it as her being impatient and unkind and I realize now that my judgement wasn't totally accurate.

I spoke to Addie's teacher this afternoon and we had a very nice conversation about what happened in class this week and how we want to proceed. I was honest with her and told her that I felt like she was a bit impatient and that I didn't think kicking Addie out of class was the solution. She took my criticism like a professional, apologized, and then explained why she did what she did.

In her experience, children with separation anxiety either improve gradually with parent involvement, or they regress and need to be cut off cold turkey. In Addison's case, she noticed that me coming into the room whenever she cried was actually making things worse for her. Over the past few weeks, Addison has gone from whining for me, to full on tantrums until I come in. I suppose I didn't realize that she was actually in tantrum mode when she cried for me. All I could here from outside the room was crying. Again, this is the hard part about not being able to observe a class. You have to make assumptions about what's going on in the room.

The teacher said that after Addie had her third tantrum on Monday, she thought the next step was to cut her off cold turkey. Her tantrums were disrupting the other kids and she knew that having me come to the room was not going to fix the problem. So that is why she tried the new approach of having Addie leave class without a sticker or sucker so that she could see that throwing tantrums means that you don't get your reward. When she explained this to me....I felt a little sheepish.

Yes...the teacher should have discussed this plan with me first so that I was prepared...but at the same time I feel like I shouldn't have accused her of being insensitive or impatient with my daughter. The teacher was just doing what she thought was best in that situation. And the funny thing is, I handle things like this at home the SAME WAY! If Addie doesn't eat her lunch, she doesn't get a treat. If she asks me for something by whining or crying, I don't give it to her. If she throws a tantrum for not getting her way, I don't run up to her and hug her. She gets time out. So I see now why the teacher went with that be consistent with my parenting.

I am a pretty firm believer in second chances because I find that it takes more energy to be mad at someone, then just to forgive and move on. So that is what I want to do...I want to forgive and move on. I apologized to the teacher for jumping to conclusions and she apologized for not communicating her policies to me. She offered to let me observe Addie through an observation window for as many sessions as it takes for her to get comfortable, but if Addie does throw a tantrum, we have to take her home without her rewards so that she understands that connection. She believes it will only take a few weeks for Addie to get the hang of things, as long as we are consistent. So I'm willing to give it a second chance.

I can't guarantee that Addie will respond the way we want her to. I can't guarantee that Addie won't throw a tantrum the minute that door closes behind her next week. And I also can't guarantee that I am strong enough to watch her cry for weeks on end without progress. But what I can guarantee is that we will give it another chance and if it still doesn't work...Addie and I will switch to a Mommy and Me dance class in November. All I want is a happy ballerina...

And I am willing to do what it takes to get there...even if it means giving second chances.

Thank you all for the thoughtful advice you gave me on my previous post. I appreciate it more than you know :-)


  1. Now a Mommy and Me class sounds like a HOOT! Do they do Auntie and Me classes??? That would be such fun!

  2. Diana, I am looking into Auntie & Me classes... HA! I totally need to take the kiddos to some sort of activity!!!

    Jen, Glad you're giving the teacher another chance. She's probably right... At their age it seems that explaining issues, routines, etc is a bit complex. The simple reaction to her actions will probably teach her quicker. And, if not? Mommy & Me will be fun! :)

  3. I loved this post Jen. I, like you, often let my emotions take over. I first thought from your previous posts that the teacher was being unfair but now that she explained why she did what she did, it makes sense.

    I too believe in second chances and that it does take more energy to be mad at someone than to just forgive and move on. I'm glad you said that statement, it was like an 'AH HA!' moment for me! hahaha!

    Praying for better classes ahead for Miss Addie!


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