Your child has been practicing for weeks for the dance performance on stage, but is now in tears and does not want to perform in front of a large audience.
Class presentations and public performances can make your child anxious. He might experience sweaty palms, trembling, dry mouth, nervousness, stomach pain and even diarrhoea. These are classical signs of a child experiencing a fear due to performance, known as stage fright.
While this is a common problem, faced by adults as well as children, there are some ways to help your child overcome it.
Practice makes a child perfect.
Encourage your child to practice well, whether it is a recital, speech, act or a dance. This will help in boosting your child’s confidence. You can also try making him/her practice in front of some friends and family before they face the audience.
Watch one’s own performance.
Try recording your child’s rehearsal and encourage him/her to watch it later with you. This will help him/her in understanding the areas that need improvement and work on it. Also, motivate your child to perform in front of a mirror to focus on hand gestures, speech and expressions.
Talk to your child and understand feelings.
Understanding your child’s fears will help you to work together in the right direction. Your child might be worried about making a mistake on stage and getting negative feedback. Feeling that he/she is not equal and conscious about appearance are also common reasons for stage fright. Be empathetic towards his/her feelings and make relevant suggestions to get over it.
Encourage your child to participate regularly.
Participating in events and performances regularly will help them build confidence and focus on performance rather than the audience.
Feel confident about your child and tell him/her before the performance that he/she is the best and that you love him/her. Do not compare your child to his/her peers, as you might accidentally foster negative competition or feeling of inferiority in your child.
Teach your child to feel relaxed.
Help your child to cope with his anxiety by teaching him/her skills like closing eyes and taking deep breaths before performance. Your child can easily understand when you are anxious and that will cascade in his/her performance. So try relaxing techniques yourself too. Some kids tend to rush through their lines and performance, just to get over with it. Teach them to take it easy, breath while performing and deliver slowly. This will make them clearly audible and give him/her time to recollect next lines or steps.
Taking critiques and feedback positively is a great way to learn. While it is easier said than done, teach him/her how feedback is good and how it should not be taken personally.
While these techniques might prove helpful, we need to remember that no two kids are the same. Pushing your child to perform will only take your child two steps back rather than towards stage confidence.