Many children are very talented and have great prowess in their field of performing arts but are hesitant to perform in front of an audience. They might be naturally shy or may lack the opportunity to practise performing in front of an audience. Stage fear is a very real feeling. There are ways to mitigate it. A little nervousness is normal but stage fright or performance anxiety is a condition that needs to be addressed. It is necessary to take smart steps to increase the confidence of the child.
How to read the symptoms that signify stage fear?
There are many ways in which the parents and the teachers can help the child to overcome the anxiety and perform optimally. The first step is to understand how the anxiety is manifested. Children often become cranky and stubborn; they may cry and exhibit symptoms of deep distress. They may indulge in regressive behaviour like bedwetting, nail biting, eating disorders. Physical disorders like stomach aches and nausea are also reported. Children are often unable to express their distress and anxiety. This leads to behavioural issues in children.
How to allay stage fright in children?
The first step is to ensure that the child is well prepared and knows the nuances of his performance well. When the child is confident with the preparation of his piece, he will be confident to take up the challenge of performing on stage.
- Empathy is the most important emotion that your child recognizes. It is a good idea to acknowledge that a certain degree of stage fright is normal. It is important not to wave off the fears of the child and say something like, “I know it is not easy to perform in front of so many people. It is okay to feel a little nervous. But I know that you will do very well. Do you want help to go through with it?” offer to stand in the wings or directly in front of the child while the performance is on.
- Teach your child body calming techniques or meditation that he can use just before a performance. This helps the child to calm down and face his fear instead of avoiding them. This in itself is the best way to handle stage fright.
- Practicing in front of a small group or the mirror before a big performance is a good way to mitigate pre performance jitters.
- It is also a good idea to convey to the child that you will love him unconditionally. This will remove the fear that his performance both good and bad will have any consequence on your attitude to him. It is important that the child is made to understand that while a good performance will be appreciated, a bad one will be acceptable too. A child needs to understand that only one can win, and participating in the event is equally important.
The child who is assured that his performance is appreciated always is more confident. The above measures will help your child give the best performance and help him battle stage fear.
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