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How To Respond

Tips on thoughtfully reacting to a child's performance

It can be hard to engage, and meaningfully engage, with your child’s art—especially when it might be something you are not completely familiar with. They come home from class or maybe step foot off the stage after a performance and you’re suddenly confronted with: “What do I say that isn’t just, ‘Great job out there,’” which is, I will add, still completely worthwhile and kind.

But, if you’re looking for a few more ways to start a longer conversation, one that opens your child up for deep thought about what they’re doing and involves you showing your support in a thoughtful way, look no further.

Firstly, it is important to go beyond surface-level comments and questions. Specific details are key—instead of saying, “Great job, kiddo,” maybe mention a moment of their performance that you really loved, or mention an area that they’ve improved upon.

“I saw you struggling with that particular movement last week, but you really seemed to have nailed it!” comes off in a supportive and interested manner. Take it a step further by asking, “What did you do differently?” or, “Tell me how you felt about dance today,” to ensure that you’re giving them the space to talk about their own performance.

Similarly, asking questions about recently learned concepts, moves, or techniques allows your child to show off what they know. And, when you ask these questions, you will be able to reinforce their learning process, helping it to stick. It’s a win-win—you might even be learning something, new right alongside your child.

Whatever you do, avoid the simple, “That was really great,” even if it was really great. It is, of course, a kind remark but it does not dip below the surface of the performance. Your active engagement with their work sparks an entirely different feeling—one that makes them proud to discuss what they’ve done, what they’re learning in the process and how they’re feeling about it all.

It doesn’t take a lot—just a few simple swaps and thoughtful word choices that make for a meaningful conversation about your child’s art. This type of conversation around what they’re doing fosters growth and passion within your child and supports them in their interests.

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