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Cultivating Talent, Building Self-Esteem


I love musical theatreIt’s my interest and passionHowever, when my 7-year-old daughter turned to me during a live performance of The Wizard of Oz and said she wanted to be on stage performing, I thought she was being silly 

My daughter had always been a very shy, awkward and quiet childI couldn’t imagine her wanting to perform in front of an audience, much less audition. Yet, eight years later, she has performed in more than 20 musical productions and is thriving in her craftShe is no longer that shy little girl. Instead, she commands the stage. 


Human motivator 

What accounts for children gravitating to one sport, hobby or interest? This past summer, as the world watched the Olympics, we heard inspirational stories of successes, challenges and sometimes-failures that led these athletes to become successful in their sport. It was clear that many of these athletes were born with drive, perseverancededication and, most of all, self-esteem. 

Self-esteem reflects a person’s evaluation of his or her own worth. It’s how people judge themselves and form the attitudes they have about themselvesRenowned psychologist Abraham Maslow said the need for self-esteem is one of the basic human motivatorsIn order to grow and achieve, he suggested people need esteem from others, as well as respect of self. Both of these needs must be fulfilled in order for an individual to grow as a person and be confident 

Research suggestgenetic factors that help shape overall personality can play a role in the development of our self-esteemSome kids are born with low self-esteem, which may not have any reflection of their home environmentWith these children, it’s important for parents and caregivers to be sensitive, be gentle with constructive criticism, and praise more than criticizeAs parents, we need to work extra hard at encouraging and helping support their interests and hobbiesAlso, it’s critical that parents and caregivers model positive self-esteem, even if they may not feel it all the time 


Confidence builder 

Behind every scholar, athlete, dancer, artist, musician or talented person, there has been someone or many people supporting and encouraging themIt’s extremely important that children excel or find pleasure in somethingIt’s also important that as parents and caregivers, we support our childrenWe need to encourage their passions and interests, which will build their confidence and self-esteem. 

Children want to feel valued ̶ not only by their families, but by the greater community. My son is involved in community service as a class projectI’ve noticed this not only makes him feel good abouhelping others, but also about himselfHelping children have an identity and a role in the community is a great way to feel valued.  

It’s a fine balance between pushing children to explore new things and respecting their fears and apprehensionsIf your child struggles with confidence, I suggest pairing him up with a friend when trying something new so he doesn’t feel alone. Remember, the first thing they try might not be a successThe important thing is that they keep trying 

Most importantly, teach children to believe in themselves, be compassionate with themselves and praise themselvesBefore each performance, my daughter repeats a mantra that helps her with performance anxiety: “I am strong, I am courageous, I can do this!” It’s important that kids learn to support themselves as their family is alongside, encouraging them. 

By // Dena Cabrera, PsyDCEDS 

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