Helping Children Overcome Challenges

This is a story about “Marie” and her Mom “Elena”. “Marie” loved to sing but was scared to perform; “Elena” helped.

Marie enjoyed singing. From a young age her parents made sure that she was part of in school and after school singing groups. Her singing instructors were happy with her talent and participation.

Marie was also a quiet and reticent child. She liked to spend time with her family and although friendly she was generally shy and cautious in social situations. Except for singing most of her personality was fairly reserved.

As Marie got older singing classes ended with small public performances. For several years she refused to participate in recitals saying that she was sick or didn’t feel like going. By the end of grade school her parents were increasingly concerned about her reluctance to share her considerable singing skills in public. They thought that if she could overcome this particular fear it might help her feel more confident and comfortable in other social settings as well.

Elena and I talked and she decided to do whatever she could to help Marie perform at her next recital. She began by telling Marie that she should go to the performance. Elena explained that she was going to help her get there, trying to communicate as calmly and clearly as she could. She reminded her how well Marie sang, how much everyone appreciated her skill, and how she could do it.

Marie kept going to rehearsals but insisted that she could not guarantee that she would attend the performance.

As the day of the recital neared Marie became more anxious and increasingly stubborn about not going. Elena was not sure how she was going to get her daughter out of the house but was firm in her resolve. A few days before the event Elena cleared her calendar as much as could to spend time with Marie, trying to stay relaxed whenever she was with her. She mentioned the performance a few times but also did things that Marie enjoyed.

When the big day arrived Elena went into Marie’s room hours before the start time, helped her get dressed and almost carried her into the car. Marie was crying and fighting the whole way saying that she couldn’t perform, hated singing, and hated her Mom etc. Elena took a deep breath escorted her daughter to the stage almost propping her up with music in hand before sitting in the audience emotionally drained and worried that she had pushed too hard.

Marie stood in the back row with her head down singing some of the notes very quietly

The story ends well. A year or two later Marie auditioned for and attended a middle school with an excellent and demanding choral program that performed regularly. She made a small group of close friends who socialized easily and began doing fun things away from home. I haven’t seen Elena for a while now but whenever I run into her in the neighborhood she reports that all is going well. It is almost as if she has forgotten her concerns about her shy, reticent child.

Helping a child accomplish something that they love to do can make a big difference.