The Teacher is Talking: Let’s Talk About Talent

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By Leslie Lindsay

When I used to work as a R.N. at the Child-Adolescent Treatment Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota I often facilitated educational groups.  Aside from the fact that I really enjoyed these groups, we often would pose questions to the kids (patients) that could be a little tough to answer.  Here are some examples that come to mind:

1)  If you could have another name other than your own, what would you choose and why? 

2)  Name one thing you are good at.

Okay…the one I am focusing on today is this last one.  One. Thing. You.  Are.  Good.  At.  This particular question gets to the heart of the matter quickly: Self-esteem.  I find this question i smuch  easier for younger kids to answer than older ones. 

For example, this past week I volunteered to be a Room Mother at my 6yo’s kindergarten Valentine’s party.  I read a book to the kiddos about happiness and loving oneself.  Then I went around the room and ask for students to share what they are good at.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.  Arms shot up left and right.  “I am good at being a friend.” … “I am good at reading.”  …. “I am good at helping my mom.”  …. “I am good at taking care of my dog.”   Product Details(image source: Amazon.com.  One of the titles I read at the Valentine’s Day Party). 

When I was at Mayo working with a room full of adolescents, I would often get blank stares and mumbles, “I’m not good at anything.”  Or, screwed up faces, you know the kind when someone bites their lip and looks down, trying to wipe off a smile because they know they are good at XYZ but are afraid to admit it. 

Somewhere along the line, kids decide it is not ‘cool’ to admit to something they do well.  I want them to get that back. 

If you have a younger child, then consider  yourself lucky.  You still have time to remind them of their talents and build their sense of self-esteem.  If your kiddos are a little older, keep doing it.  “I like the way you  ____.”  “You know, you really are good at _____.”  “You worked really hard and ____.” 

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be diving into one of my favorite subjects:  self-esteem and children–and later, specifically focusing on girl’s self-esteem.  For now, I leave you with this “book” written and illustrated by my daughter, 6yo .  Note the “about the author photo.” Kelly. 

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In case you have a hard time reading her inventive spelling, I will translate:

  • “Dad’s talent is gardening.” 
  • “Kate’s [big sister] talent is art.”
  • “Mom’s talent is writing.”
  • “Kelly’s talent is soccer.”
  • “Talents are fun for everybody.”
  • “Everybody has fun talents.”
  • “Have fun with your talents.”

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