Empowering Teens at Your Studio

When I’m on coaching calls with studio owners, one of the topics we often discuss is the “drama” associated with teen girls (and sometimes their parents).  

Gossip, rumors, high emotions, eye-rolling, attitudes: if you serve students over the age of eleven, you know what I’m talking about.  This is the age where students are figuring themselves out, trying to understand how they fit in with their friend groups, testing boundaries, and still developing their personal sense of worth.

This is usually a subject that comes up when studio owners ask me for ways to build camaraderie within their performing teams.  Other times it’s because a dancer or parent has brought a concern to the owner’s attention, and they need advice.

Whatever the reason, my response is usually the same:

Stop trying to fix it!

You might be surprised to hear me say that, but in my experience, trying to FIX these situations is simply impossible.  Rather than think “fixing” we need to think “guiding” “teaching” and “offering tools”.

Teens and parents need to know that they are capable of successfully navigating through drama and conflict.  They need to know they have options for how to react.  They need to know that their studio owner and teachers will help guide them—but we can’t wave a magic wand and make the drama and conflict go away. Learning how to deal with conflict and function as part of a team is a life skill.

Our teens and parents need to feel empowered.

And our responsibility is to help them discover that power in their self-confidence, their ability to make good choices, and the possibility to be resilient when things DON’T work out.  I believe we can do that in three ways:

  • Show them examples of how to manage their emotions, address conflict, and ask questions.  
  • Encourage them to communicate more clearly, express themselves through dance, and be a positive influence.  
  • Expect them to be accountable to the standards set at the studio.  Having standards means nothing if we don’t enforce them to be held.

Whether it’s through team bonding sessions or having regular conversations about what success looks like, we can say, “How would you handle this situation?” or “Is there another way to solve this?”  

We can model for them what grit and grace look like on a day-to-day basis.  Apologize when we make a mistake. We can encourage them to talk (not text) with a friend who hurt their feelings.  Tell them, kindly, when they fall short of our expectations—and how to move forward.

One of the ways I personally chose to empower teens beyond my own studio is through our upcoming event, the 360° Dance Festival.

Because the event is dedicated to the whole dancer (and is YPAD-certified!) our faculty are invested in the growth of each dancer’s skill and self-worth.  Enrichment classes that touch on topics like positive body image and academic success will be offered alongside dance classes like hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, and jazz.  

My goal with the 360° Dance Festival and my studio, is to ensure that our dancers know their worth.  That they feel whole and validated and inspired!

As studio owners, we are in an awesome position to positively impact so many young lives.  I encourage you to stop trying to fix things when it comes to your studio’s teen drama. Instead, keep creating opportunities for guidance and influence.  

And one last piece of advice: Don’t let your teens’ drama overshadow their greatness.  You know how much amazing potential they have.  Now show them what’s possible with it!

Love, Misty