Nurture and support your child's talent
Talent is a wonderful thing when it is nurtured, but what role should a parent play to ensure success without putting too much pressure on the child?
Child psychologist Jenny da Silva says that pressuring a child is not always a bad thing.
"When we as parents encourage and motivate our children to try better and push harder, we can instil the message in them that they have what it takes, also encouraging them to push their boundaries to achieve their full potential," she says.
However, on the other hand, when a parent's success is determined by their child's achievements this causes the risk of demotivating the child and leaving him or her with a poor self-image.
Da Silva also says many parents fill their children's schedules from morning to night with activities such as sports, culture, dance and art classes.
At the end of the day children are exhausted and don't enjoy their childhood.
She also says that as much as a child needs to excel, it is also important for the child to be able to interact with other children and form healthy interpersonal relationships.
"Ensure that you are encouraging and not overburdening the child," says Da Silva.
Mahlogonolo Nkadimeng, 9, from Sekhukhune in Limpopo, is already a master of her trade with numerous beauty pageant achievements under her crown.
Mahlogonolo was crowned queen for Little Miss Valentine, Little Miss Polokwane and the provincial Miss Summer Heat in Limpopo as well as first runner-up and best talent in the Little Miss Nations in Brazil.
She started taking part in pageants when she was six and her mother, Tlakale, says she noticed her daughter's interest when she was only four.
"She started modelling around the house and in front of the mirror, so I decided to take her to a modelling agency to polish her skills," says the mother of five.
The Grade 4 pupil's older sister Matshibisho, 16, was also a beauty queen but stopped participating when she went to high school.
"I helped her enter the pageants and she has been winning without a modelling agency. I do not coach her at all, I know nothing about modelling," her mother says.
The little talent is also an aspiring singer and performs well in school. But after competitions, she remains a little girl.
"She is a child. After she gets off stage, she forgets and gets back to being a child. She does not take these things seriously, it is just a hobby for her."
Tlakale insists Mahlogonolo enjoys her childhood.
"At school she is playful, like any child her age. Sometimes we fight when she comes home with dirty socks because she had been playing without her shoes on."
Tlakale says she does not force her daughter to enter competitions.
"Parents should not pressure children into such things. If they are forced, they will not perform to their best."
Beauty pageants, she says, has helped boost Mahlogonolo's confidence and public speaking.
For Thato Sibondana, 17, of the Born to Move Dancing School in Pimville, Soweto, talent is genetic.
"Thato is from a dance-oriented family. His brother, cousins, uncle and aunt are dancers. Their coach is his uncle, who has danced his entire life," says his proud mother Matsietsi.
The matriculant is a ballroom and Latin dancer who began at age six.
He has taken part numerous times in the South African Championship Competition, where he represented Gauteng and qualified to participate in the world championships as well as the Junior Blackpool Dance Festival in England.
These were followed by provincial and national accolades, which lead to him participating in SABC2's Strictly Come Dancing.
Thato's schedule is made up of practice sessions that take place every weekend, and additional lessons for big competitions.
Matsietsi says: "Juggling time between school and dance is a challenge for him, especially with international competitions because he has to take time off school. Fortunately, the school is very supportive and they give him all the lessons he has missed."
With nurturing her child's talent, Matsietsi, like any parent, wants to see her son succeed. "It is every parent's dream to see their child succeed in life. I am one of the fortunate parents to have been awarded the opportunity to see my children prosper under the peer pressures that are surrounding children. With negative distractions such as drugs, foul beliefs and other pressures, it is important for a parent to know, love and support their child, but most importantly never choosing a career for them."
Da Silva says: "Nurture and encourage the child in that area (that they are talented in), but also remember that other talents can and need to be developed. Understand that all children have areas of strength and weaknesses. Focus on the effort that they put in and not accuracy."