5 Ways To Help Your Child Overcome Stage Fear

10 October 2022
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As adults, we feel fear, stress, and nervousness. Some might say- stage fright before an important presentation, or a function. Stage fright is a natural phenomenon, and the fear of public speaking is quite predictable in young children in particular. If stage fright is not addressed early on, it may turn into fear and anxiety related to the fear of public speaking. As parents, one has a responsibility to alleviate such fears at an early stage and foster your child’s love for art. There are several reasons for stage fright- the most common being high expectations. Every child wishes for a great round of applause and validation after their performance, which might not be the case at all times. Children become preoccupied with the audience's reaction rather than enjoying the performance. Future performances are then marred with thinking and worrying way too much about the audience that further increases the level of anxiety. Low self-confidence is also a major reason for stage fright. Some children can be naturally shy or unassertive in their personalities. They are unaware of their own capabilities which leads them to think that they will never yield validation from their peers and the audience.

Practice, don't overtly criticise, partake in the activity with them, get them used to crowds by starting with small groups & more: here's what we suggest you do.

Practice is Key - Before a scheduled performance in school or a public event, make sure that you and your child are practising the piece rigorously. This includes practising intonation, inflexions and certain non-verbal cues to enhance the performance. For example, if your child is due for a recitation performance, make sure you practice the pronunciations and tonality of the poem, with them, as well as make sure that they know the words.

Constructive Criticism - Children are perceptive beings and can be quite sensitive to criticism. During the practice sessions, make sure you correctly identify where your child needs some work and make sure you communicate that to them in a constructive manner. Every child has a different threshold for criticism, some may take it willingly and work on it, while some children internalise criticism. Make sure to deliver constructive criticism in a manner that works BEST for your child and not anyone else.

Exposure - Frankly, it is human nature to be intimidated by the unknown. Now place a young child in front of an audience for the first time, and you can expect them to feel the strong jitters. To make sure that your child does not feel intimidated or fearful of the stage on D-Day, make sure to expose them to an audience in steps. It can start with family, close friends and even graduate to your neighbours. This can condition them to perform freely in front of an audience, and make it less foreign.

Be Their Co-Performer - While practising, children can get quite critical of themselves,. They take criticism very seriously and see it as a reflection of themselves. To help with this, start practising alongside your child. Humanise the concept of ‘performing’, and communicate to your child the fact that it is completely fine to make mistakes along the way, and that learning from one’s mistakes is key to becoming a sincere performer.

Be Present - A 9-5 job, and the 24x7 job of being a parent can be overwhelming, but being present for your child is the best present that you can give them! Be your child’s most vocal cheerleader on the day of the event. Make sure your child has a familiar and kind face in the audience in the sea of strangers to comfort them.

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