Jul 24, 2018
Nerves are fact of life. By helping your child become more comfortable in front of others, you can help them overcome any performance anxiety.
Whether it’s standing on a stage or in front of class, children can find the experience unnerving. After all, public speaking is a common fear regardless of age.
It’s normal to feel anxious when speaking in front of others, but when performance anxiety impacts our ability to function, it can become overwhelming. Factors include a child’s temperament, personality, genetics, and learned behavior.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage and overcome performance anxiety. By helping your child to overcome their anxiety, you can unlock their public speaking potential and strengthen important communication and social skills.
1. Provide Space to Practice
Practice really does make perfect – or at least makes uncomfortable situations familiar. Ensure your child has adequate space to practice speaking – by themselves or in front of you. They should speak slowly and aloud to develop their ability to pronounce and project words effectively.
2. Encourage interactions
Before our time in the spotlight, it’s best to have more personal interactions under our public speaking belt. Children should take every opportunity to interact socially – ordering meals at restaurants, sharing stories with family and friends, calling relatives (every grandparent’s dream). The more they practice speaking at length, children can learn how to act, sound, and react in a public speaking engagement.
3. Use Stage Techniques
Stage actors are no strangers to stomach butterflies before the curtains open. To compensate, they enter a “neutral” state of mind – calm, detached, focused on the narrative they’re going to enliven onstage. What’s more, they know to look beyond an audience, not at them. These same techniques can help your child overcome the fear of being watched.
4. Practice Self-Reflection
Children perform better generally when they’re self-aware. Self-reflection, either by writing out their emotions or learning how to talk to themselves about those feelings, is an important tool that carries over into academics and future careers. It’s also a great stress-busting technique come exam time. Encourage your child to reflect openly on their anxiety by opening yourself up with empathy and compassion.
5. Model Right Behavior
Parents are in a prime place to lead by example. Give your child an extra morale boost by taking on the role of public speaker yourself. Practice a prompt aloud in front of them, paying close attention to how you articulate words and use gestures to emphasize points or carry an audience. It’s an opportunity for you to strengthen your own skills, too!
Overcoming performance anxiety isn’t an overnight job. But parents can take an active role by encouraging consistent practice and providing an affirming environment where children can play with material and techniques openly and without judgment. In time, you may find yourself raising a future virtuoso of the public limelight.