Having had the privilege of teaching hundreds of children over the last forty plus years, I know just a tiny bit about the way their minds work. Their lives and ours will be a whole lot easier if we can crawl around in their shoes, get into their heads, and learn what is developmentally appropriate for each age.

Last night, five year old darling Loueva came in for her weekly piano lesson. She is currently working in two books. One is a bit challenging. The other is really easy. While playing from the second book, she suddenly looked up with a glint and proclaimed “I’m really good at piano.” If stars could shine that much, heaven would be twice as glowing. She literally danced with her eyes.

It is such a privilege to be able to craft the confidence in a young child, just by structuring their learning experiences to their unique capabilities. What a joy it is to watch this happen!

A half hour later, her nine year old sister, Clara, had her guitar lesson. What a privilege to learn the F chord, which is a difficult task. Again, a skill was learned; a child grew a few inches in esteem; and the art of discipline needed to pursue learning became embedded in her brain. Both girls are prize students, as is their father, who also studies guitar.

I’ve seen this happen time and again in my studio.

This begs the question: What if parents and teachers were to form children’s pursuits around their talents? What if the smiles that come from the ensuing work enahanced their well being? What if 90% of their lives could be founded on endeavors that would bring them accomplishment and joy?

I believe children who are grounded in achieving based on fun learning experiences that foster a strong work ethic, and promote a love of learning, may be far less likely to get into drugs and other destructive behaviors.

I used to have a great deal of frustration in my teaching until I found that magic formula of having them work constantly at pieces they can accomplish easily. Somehow, this ease becomes hard work. It seems paradoxical, but it really isn’t.

Are your children driving you crazy? Help them find their gifts and encourage experiences that fall in line with them.

Your life and theirs will be much easier. They will seek highs in healthy ways. This may enable them to avoid the pitfalls of depression and anxiety.