Is My Child Talented?

How do I help my child develop in activities?

Q: How do I know whether a program/business is good quality? As parents, we know that getting a “good ” program can make the difference between a year of triumph and a year filled with struggle for a child (and ourselves). The correct program can have the potential to play a pivotal role in our children’s physical and emotional development, and with that should come a feeling of great responsibility.

A: Typically ask these 3 questions when looking into any program or business:

1. Decide on whether you are looking for a recreational type program or professional level program. Now go in that direction looking for a good company/program that will offer high level instruction.

2. Ask about the academic growth of previous students, teacher’s experience, or company’s expertise. Who are the qualified professional teachers/coaches? What is their level of mastery?

3. Ask if you can sample the program for a day. You will want to personally assess if they have effective instructional strategies and get to know if your child is comfortable with the teachers/coaches.

Q: What if I have a daughter that has an amazing voice but loves soccer and karate. How do I push her into the music direction, or do I?

The first ten to twelve years should be the experimental phase when children are allowed to take several types of lessons to see what they enjoy and where their talents lie. Kids should be able to try soccer for a season or two, then karate for a session, then try private singing lessons or choir. Your daughter will know which she enjoys the most after sampling a few…then have her continue in the direction she enjoys and flourishes in!

Q: I always wanted to be a model/actress but never had support. How do I know if I am pushing my son for him or for me?

Usually you can tell right away by noticing if you are asking or they are! If you are the one setting up the appointment with the agent, that is fine but allow your child to know all the details and learn about the dedication/requirements needed; then, let them make the final decision if that is the direction they want to head in. I recently had a woman come in with her 9 year old son. She orginally signed him up for our 8 week acting program then moved him to our yearly long program because she noticed so many changes in his behavior. He become much more confident! When he first started learning “on camera skills” he would present himself very shy, extremely “mouse” quiet, and was unable to hold his head up. By him taking acting lessons, he had to learn what his body languages communicates about himself or the character in the script. He had to learn who to communicate confidence with his voice, posture, smile, and create that enthusatic energy. Later I found out his mom always wanted to be a model and actress but never had the support, so that is why she signed him up, to offer him the experience she never got to have. During the course, she helped her son develop social skills and abilities that will last him a lifetime. Now she has joined him in the program but is in the adult class next door. This has ended up to be a special bonding experience for the both of them. You may have seen them struting their stuff walking down the runway for the Mother’s Day Fashion show together. Recently, they are both auditioning for major motion pictures, RC Willey Commercial, and he can be seen in his first Industrial film.

Q: I have a four year old that is very talented. How do I teach him confidence rather than arrogance?

Confidence is trust that a person is capable. Arrogance is referring to excessive pride in oneself. Overconfidence is having unmerited confidence- believing someone is capable when they are not. We want to have confidence and believe in oneselves without bragging, boasting, and egotistical behavior. A healthy confidence shows that you are assertive and know your capabilities. We want our kids to be aware of their capabilities, learn what they are good at, speak up for what they believe, trust their judgments, appreciate them making good decisions, and applaud them for staying humble and striving to develop their weaker areas. Parents need to be careful how they compliment their kids. Compliment their worth, efforts, their teamwork, consideration, and hard work but be careful to boast about the “shallow things” that teach them to value their appearance, wealth, or ego. That is where arrogance can be inflamed and encourage children to get a big head, overestimating their capabilities. We don’t want our kids to believe they are good at everything. Their judgments are not always right. In the family unit, we can have family discussions on relevant topics that encourage everyone to express opinions, be listened to, and valued as a contributor to the discussion. Help promote the understanding that we all have areas that we are good at and others that will need working on and refinement. Encourage them to be respectful of each other’s opinions, even when they differ from theirs. Teach them to laugh off their mistakes, so they will not be scared to admit when they have got something wrong. Congratulate your child when they do well, reminding them of the work they put into it and the result that came because of their efforts.

Q: I have a daughter in cheer, dance, and acting. How do I know how much is too much for an 8 year old?

We live in an area where most parents would rather cut back on indulgences for themselves than stop paying for their children’s activities. Singing lessons, dance, cheer, soccer, acting lessons, tutoring, sports teams — the list goes on and on. Often, so do the costs.

The experiences we thought kids had to have before high school has moved down to junior high and now elementary. To come clean, my children through the years have taken hockey & ice skating, tennis, soccer, private swimming lessons in our pool, and yes, years of dance instruction. Some lessons lasted a few months, some for years.

And what is wrong with that? Maybe we know that some parents go overboard on extracurricular activities, but aren’t these important for their children’s future success?

Somehow, not giving our children every possible opportunity makes us feel like bad parents. But in an effort to give their children everything, some parents end up not just depleting financial resources, but also their own emotional energy.

The reality is that failing to give your child dance lessons and acting lessons at age 6, probably hasn’t deprived her of a Hollywood career as a famous actor or prima ballerina.

Have we forgotten what childhood can and should be like?

Good parents want to help their kids learn skills, gain confidence, find interests and try new things; however, first, parents need to teach their kids to balance human doing with human being! Kids need to know they’re not defined by what they do! They are defined by who they are. We need time to play, experiment, rest, and allow them to figure out who they are. We still want them to have time to develop kindness, goodness, virtue, tenderness, gentleness, charity, health, vigor, and intellect.

Consider having your child be involved in two activities at a time, as your maximum. For example, have your daughter select her favorite two from cheer, dance, and acting.

Q: I have a son that is 15 years old and I don’t know if it’s too late for him to start acting right now? He wants to do it, but he’s never done it, what do you think?

They say it’s never too late to start your dreams. I often hear from people 30+ “If I had only started sooner…” “I wish I could go back and do that thing…” “If I were younger, I could…”

It’s a strange phenomenon of human psychology: People actually believe that once they’ve hit a certain age, certain opportunities are closed to them. I hear it all the time, when potential clients say, “It’s far too late for me to be an actor. Maybe if I were 10 years younger.” Currently as a talent agent, I have grown men who look like Santa Claus come in to start their career. It is never too late to start acting or do many activities! Just as they say “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but “Age is also in the eye of the beholder” too! It’s all about your beliefs, your perspective on reality. To use a cliché, “Life is what you make of it!” Aspiring actors break into the industry all ages to to express themselves, because it’s really good money, to become famous…. the list goes on. But there’s really only one reason you should EVER become an actor—and that’s because you’re passionate about it. If he is 15 and passionate about it, that is a wonderful age. When I helped in casting for High School Musical that was the age we are looking for! Even now, we are casting currently for many lead role in films, commercials, ads looking for that very age.

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