I was in Wal-Mart the other day and observed an encounter between a mother and an older gentleman in one of the aisles. She had a toddler with her, and he had commented on how cute her daughter was. As she thanked him, she began coaxing her child to "tell him what a cow says!" "What does a cat say?" I chuckled at this all to familiar scene. I guess I found it amusing because I have done it with my own children a million times. But why? Why do we feel compelled to make our children "perform" for people?
A toddler will develop a natural sense of pride in his accomplishments. This sense of pride is an important part of emotional development and helps him develop a healthy self-esteem as he gains independence. I loved watching my children grow and learn things, and I loved sharing that with other people. Children really do say and do the funniest things. However, I do think we have to be careful that our celebration of their accomplishments is not perceived as pressure for perfection. This will only lead to unhealthy self-esteem and feelings of perfectionism.
That's one of the things I love about my Kindermusik classroom. There's no pressure to perform the task a certain way. Children are free to explore at their own pace and celebrate the rich diversity in ability and creativity.

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