How to Overcome Stage Fright or Performance Anxiety in Children
As long as not to extreme levels, jitters in children before a dance recital, school concert or class presentation, is common. How you (as a parent) deal with it, however, plays a major role in letting your child learn how to cope and overcome it.
Naturally, parents hate to see their children suffer from any sort of discomfort - many would move mountains to ease their child’s worries and fears by allowing them to avoid or run away from a situation triggering the anxiety. While this flight strategy works in the short-term, it doesn’t necessarily allow them to build the resilience they need to learn to cope with these normal levels of anxiety which are inevitable even in the later stages of their life.
Here are some ways you can help your child overcome stage fright or performance anxiety.
Rather than respond to your child’s nervousness with phrases like “Don’t worry,” or, “Don’t be silly.”, explain to them that the jitters they are experiencing are normal. Empathise with them and comfort them by offering to help figure out ways to cope.
Prepare Them for Failure
Don't take this literally - we don't mean intentionally set them up for public humiliation. Rather, this preparation is in the sense of reminding them that at the end of the day we are all human beings, that they won’t be punished for not doing well and that it’s not the end of the world should they make a mistake in their final performance.
Reassure them that you’re proud of their hard work, will love them, and be immensely proud of them no matter what the outcome is. Doing this alone can do wonders in taking some weight off their shoulders, and easing their anxiety.
Help Them Rehearse
The more confident your child feels doing their routine or presentation, the more confident (and excited) they will feel doing it up on stage and in front of a crowd. As a parent, you can help them prepare for a recital or presentation by getting involved in the process leading up to the final performance. Allow them to rehearse in front of you, then praise them and give them some constructive feedback. As they improve, praise them again to boost their confidence and reassure them.
Not only will getting involved help to prevent or reduce instances of performance anxiety in children of any age, but it’s also a great way for you to bond with your child.
Let Them Perform on the Same Stage Prior to the Final Performance
If at all possible, try to find an opportunity for your child to rehearse on the actual stage that the final performance will be done on. By doing this, the child can familiarise themselves with the venue, and this can hopefully make the experience of the final performance overall easier and less nerve-racking.
Teach Them Relaxation Strategies
Performances should be a fun and exciting experience for your children. The more relaxed your child is for his/her recital, the more of a pleasant experience it will be. If your child struggles to relax before a performance, teaching your child relaxation strategies can be of great help.
Knowing how and when to use relaxation strategies are useful in many anxiety-provoking scenarios, not just for children, but for people of all ages. Whether it’s through breathing techniques, positive visualisation or meditation, anything that can help your child take their mind off their nervousness of going up on stage can aid greatly performance anxiety.
Praise, Praise, Praise!
Sometimes, a little bit of praise from mum and dad is all a child is looking for. Make a conscious effort to express to your child just how proud of them you are, both in the lead-up to the final performance and after it. Your enthusiasm and encouragement can go a long way in helping your child feel good about themselves rather than nervous for their upcoming performance.
Core Collective is building centres of excellence where the top fitness and wellness professionals collaborate to deliver the best services and results for our customers, all under one roof.
Click here to view the enriching activities and programmes available for children at Core Collective.