Rituals Empowering Nurture: An Example From Elementary School Theatre

We often hear people say things about “kids these days” and how “everyone gets a trophy” and that we should encourage our kids to truly compete and only reward them for actually achieving, not just playing.

I don’t necessarily disagree that we should be training our kids for life in the real world by allowing them to experience what it’s like to win and lose. But what I do think is important for all of us to remember sometimes, is that trying something scary or hard or new and committing yourself to a discipline of practice can require some loving nudges and support.  Because, as I read in a book recently, “you can be outstanding or you can be comfortable, but you can’t be both”.  And stepping outside one’s comfort zone is not always easy.

My wife teaches children and teenagers who to sing and play piano (among other life lessons that tend to come with the territory) so we spend a healthy amount of time attending high school, middle school and elementary school musicals among other types of recitals and performances.

Whenever you attend a school event like that there is always some positive reinforcement and encouragement built in to boost the self-esteem of the kids performing and reward a job well done: things like “fan-o-grams” you can post on a bulletin board to your favorite star or starlet.

But my favorite rituals are the ones they have at the elementary school shows I have been to. This weekend’s performance of Oklahoma (the lead, Curly, is one of my wife’s youngest students) was no different. Before the lights go down and the curtains go up on the cast of pre-tween performers, the teacher / director plays a few games with the audience that go something like this:

Recognizing relatives: everyone in the audience who is a family member of someone in the performance is asked to stand up and be recognized with applause. Then those for whom this performance is not the only one they have attended (usually there are 4 or so shows in the “run”) are asked to remain standing, followed by another round of applause for supporting their kids, nieces and nephews. After all – you can spend a lot of weekend time in school auditoriums of you are the parent of a theatre kid.  The idea is we should encourage the committment to your kid’s growth by showing them you are proud to be there.

Travel challenge: those who traveled more than 5 miles to see the performance are asked to stand. The mileage continues to go up and up as rounds of applause and “oohs” and “aahs” resound when ultimately the proud grandparents who have traveled from across the country to see thier namesakes sing their heart out on a tiny stage are recognized for their commitment to family by the room.  Sometimes all you have is family.  It’s important to be there for someone else sometimes and family is one of the few opportunities we have to challenge ourselves in that regard.

Finally, we are reminded by the director about the importance of audience engagement: “the more you respond to them the better they will perform and respond to you”. A round of applause or some clapping along does a lot to remind those kids that they have the power to do something that moves people. Helping them out lets them know it’s working – even if they are not yet the best they can be. But that kind of empowerment will at least encourage them to continue to try.

Even as we grow into adulthood and (in theory) mature into our sense of self and find our niches, we still continue to encounter new challenges. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to let others go out of their way to help us build our confidence or vice versa. The more we put ourselves out there and make ourselves vulnerable from time to time, the more we open ourselves up to real growth.  A curtain call every now and again reminds us the importance of others in making our lives meaningful.

Categories: Anthropology, Art, Art and culture, parents, Rituals, sociology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at


femdom/adult writings

Punk Rock Anthropology

All things punk rock: music, news, and fashion.

ish ism

Love. Explore. Advocate. Rejoice. Note.

Adventures in Living Abroad


Abigail S. Holbrook, MSW, LCSW, LLC

Counseling and Consulting in Athens, Georgia


The only authority for all things beer...

Millennials at Work

Coming of Age for the Millennial Workforce


Personal, design, inspiration, interests.


Just another site




Being a popular kid isn't easy,you have to be cautious about every move of yours because you know that all eyes are on you.Not just the eyes that look up to you but also the eyes that love to see you in pain.You might have your own list of followers but with this list there exists the "popularity starved crowd" who wants to replace you.But when reality bites these morons and they're back to square one,hurt and angry with themselves they try to make you the victim of their moment of high adrenaline,just to make you suffer because you're better.They try to clean their head by ruining your perfect life.What's more is right then you realize that none of your "friends" are what they appear to be.You're broken,depressed .You feel the need to talk to someone of your own kind,someone who won't judge you and that's when you can find me at thepopularitébug,I promise to do anything and everything to help you out of your problem!Amen.

Working Self

Creating Meaningful Work with Rebecca Fraser-Thill


Often described as a blog, an online magazine, a journal. When examined further the description changes and it becomes a project, an objective, a mission. American Male is one simple thing. It is a collection of different thoughts and experiences so come share yours and be part of the narrative.

nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst

signals, signals everywhere / and not a thought to think


World travel and photography

entitled millennial

"any man can handle adversity; if you want to test his character, give him power"

%d bloggers like this: