Severe low self esteem

Sara said: Dec 5, 2010
191 posts

Help! I have a student, 12 yr old boy, has taken violin lessons for one year now, plays in the school orchestra, is concert master, does very well! He is also in academic honors classes, is fluent in two languages and is studying a 3rd. He is on an advanced soccer team that plays year round (this is the families first priority over anything btw).

BUT the boy sees nothing good about himself. His mom has told me he constantly tears himself apart and doesn’t believe anybody when they tell him positive things. He doesn’t think any of his accomplishments are worth anything.
He walks with his head down. When he does come to group lessons, he sits in the corner and refuses to participate (he does this at school in group settings also, his mother has told me). I didn’t think he would be coming to the recital that we had because most often he doesn’t come, but yesterday he surprised me and came—but stood up there with the group with his head hung down and crying during pieces I know he knows and can play very well. I quickly and discreetly brought him off stage.

I feel there is a deeper problem than stage fright. What can you do to help a 12 year old boy that doesn’t believe anything good about himself?

Thank you so much for any thoughts or comments! I want desperately to help him feel good about who he is and what he does.

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 5, 2010
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Try checking out Carol Dweck’s book called “Mindset”. The article “how not to talk to your kids” was my first introduction to her ideas, and this might be what you’re looking for.

Or, it may be some other completely different problem—obviously it is hard to diagnose anything from an online forum.

Diane said: Dec 6, 2010
Diane AllenViolin
245 posts

I’ve had students who clearly came to lessons because everytime I paid them a compliment I could see them physically respond in a positive way. Some girls in particular were quite responsive and soaked in the compliments like dry sponges.

I would shower this kid with compliments but in a meaningful way.

That’s just the way to articulate that passage!
You kept your posture during that snarly passage!
Good thing you nailed that high note.

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Carolina said: Nov 16, 2011
Carolina Borja Marroquin
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Bogotá, Colombia
5 posts

I definetely think this is not common stage fright and I hope your student is doing better.But if the problem persists what I would do is talk to the parents(even to his friends) to find out what is that the child is not sharing and is affecting that bad his self esteem. Of course, everything to the path of love.

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