Against talent shows for children

In recent years, “Talent Shows for children” have multiplied, especially at Christmas. These are televised competitions similar to adult programs such as Masterchef, Operation Triumph or La Voz, in which boys and girls compete in various disciplines.

The objective is supposed to be to forge upstream the promises of the future of each discipline; music, cooking, sport … And besides, they say, to promote values ​​such as effort, excellence or even cooperation between equals.

But the reality can be very different, and the consequences of participating in these programs unpredictable and difficult to assess a priori. Therefore, one should not be fooled by its sumptuousness and stop thinking about the psychological consequences of such early and brutal media exposure.

    Why Kids Talent Shows are not a good idea

    The age of those who aspire to “minixefs”, singers and others, generally varies from 7 to 12 years. However, it can be observed that despite their young age, their participants acquire a series of gestures, reactions and emotional expressions, more typical of adults under the pressure of intense work stress than the reckless play of childhood or early adolescence.

    It must be said that the main part of the responsibility that at such a short age a great effort is produced, is never of its protagonists. It is always a question of families which, perhaps without realizing it, put their desire to see their offspring triumphant, the possible consequences that this has on their school development or on the configuration of their personality.

      Devil’s coaches

      After a great competitive effort, girls and boys are subjected to the scrutiny of their “coaches”, who are generally artists or figures of recognized renown and with successful careers, but who they lack educational or psychological training. However, they do not only give advice and warnings in the discipline in which they are referenced; they also dare to give general guidelines on how to deal with other aspects of life.

      Become idealized subjects for the adult audience, it is not difficult to imagine what it can mean for children, to see themselves under the tutelage of famous and idolized artists or figures. These, through bloody corrections, histrionic gestures and grandiose lyrics, comment on the exercise of boys and girls.

      They are often just as relentless and harsh with those who are least fit competitively, as they are flattering and tender with those who show more talent, effort and skill. But what is more serious is that corrections or elections are made under the watchful eyes of a vast audience of millions of people, who carefully observe their mistakes and their successes.

      In minors, both public adulation and humiliation can be internalized in sometimes very negative ways.. This is a stage where social recognition is fundamental for the configuration of a “healthy” personality. That is why at the same time that the good results must be reinforced, the reproaches, the quarrels and the corrections must always be given in private.

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        Win or lose: a matter of effort or talent

        Although everything is imbued with an atmosphere of fun and a message is conveyed in which “the important thing is to participate and have fun”, the operation of these “shows” is based on a competitive dynamic of a world, the adult, where there are only two options: win or lose.

        But in this case, the pressure comes at an age unprepared for a challenge as intense as it is fleeting. It is the logic of “failure or triumph”.

        In case of “victory” (which is unlikely, because you can only win one)

        These are the ages when one rarely has the capacity to assimilate social and family praise and admiration.. They will be the center of attention but for a short time. After the success, life continues as before, with the same difficulties and the same dreams. Returning to real life can push through some big psychological bills.

        The historical imagination is full of broken toys which, after a childhood of glory, money and recognition, have seen their lives strewn with scandals, addictions, suicide attempts and all kinds of problems, the result of the bad assimilation of early success. Celebrities like Macaulay Culkin, Joselito or Drew Barrymore are examples of this dynamic.

          In the event of a triumphant non-exit (which is the most frequent)

          The explicit or implicit message that is usually sent to them is that, either they didn’t put in enough effort or they don’t have a lot of talent.

          All at an age that is not yet prepared to face failure, in which it is easy to internalize the feeling of ridicule, because they do not have the personal tools to understand the pressure they are under. submitted.

          The consequences can be devastating: school failure, childhood depression, frustration intolerance, etc.

            You learn by playing

            The vital moment, from childhood to pre-adolescence, is a stage where interaction and enjoyment between peers is essential for personality development and sociability. A phase of life where cooking should be an experiment, playing sports a game and where we like to sing, dance or make music.

            All of this is left behind when what is conveyed is that the most important thing is to win and to stay above others.

            There is a lot of talk about the importance of competitive spaces from an early age, in order to prepare children for a very demanding adult life. This argument leaves a lot to be desired, since if there is a general consensus in most theoretical currents, in pedagogy and in psychology, it is that in the first years of life one learns by playing. And that means that the end result is not as important as the game process itself.

            It is through play and its repetition that we learn and prepare for adult life. Schools, conservatories and sports tournaments will succeed in internalizing competitiveness. I’m not saying you don’t need to nurture young talent, or that well-understood competition is inherently bad.

            I think it is necessary encourage effort and talent, but from cooperative play, pure fun and mutual support among equals.

            Therefore, my opinion is that underage viewing of such programs is strongly discouraged, let alone participating in them. The model it reproduces is neither the most educational nor the most suitable for psychological development, with unforeseeable consequences for the future.

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