How to help your child overcome stage fright

It's important that your child feels comfortable on the stage so that they're able to perform to the best of their ability, but unfortunately many children suffer from stage fright. It can be really scary being so small and in front of a big audience! But they're still passionate about performing and part of that is overcoming this fear so that they can shine like the star they are!

You can help children and students to move through this using a variety of different techniques including some simple strategies such as assisting with preparation, overcoming the jitters, warming up before they get on stage, affirmations and dealing with those dreaded butterflies in the belly. Let's take a look at what you can do now to start helping your child get beyond stage fright.

15 Tips for dealing with stage fright

A lot of the process of trying to move your child beyond stage fright comes down to selecting the right strategy that works for them at the time that they need it. Try out these suggestions and see which one works best for your child:

1. Make sure you are prepared. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel.

2. Shake your jitters out – literally! Shake out your arms, hands, legs and feet.

3. Warm up your voice and body so it is ready to perform.

4. Slow down your breathing – breathe in through the nose for around 4 seconds, hold for 1-2 seconds, exhale through the mouth 4 seconds.

5. Lie down, close your eyes and imagine yourself happy and confident performing on stage.

6. Stretch your arms up and take 3 deep breaths in and out.

7. Fake it till you make it – try standing in a confident pose. It will remind your brain to relax.

8. Laugh! Have a good giggle! Laughing releases stress and makes you feel good!

9. Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar or caffeine (i.e Coca Cola) before performing.

10. Look over the heads of the audience, rather than at their faces.

11. Speak slowly. When we are nervous we tend to speed up and this makes it harder; so take your time.

12. Remember that nerves don’t have to be a bad thing. Try turning your nerves into excitement!

13. Think positive thoughts or say an affirmation. An affirmation is a positive statement that gives you courage.

14. Don’t get down if you’ve flubbed a line, the Audience doesn’t know the script, so just try to get things back on track for your fellow performers!

15. Remember the Audience is there to watch you Succeed! They are on Your Team. They are cheering for YOU!

 

We have touched on affirmations above but it's well worth expanding on this because this can be one of the more powerful strategies when used appropriately.

Affirmations generally don't come naturally to people and when we're stuck in a particular mindset it can be really challenging to change this around. This is why it's important to have affirmations handy for all occasions - remember, selecting the ones that work best for your child and using that will be more powerful than trying to shift their mind to believe something they're not really connecting with.

Affirmations are words or phrases that people can use to help emotionally build us up or create a shift from a negative state or to transform bad habits that we may have felt stuck with for some time. The reason they can be so powerful is that they access the subconscious mind and change the core beliefs from what we have known, to something positive and what we do want. The subconscious mind doesn't understand the negative - so it's important to shift focus to what we do want, and what we can do, so that we start to do it. This is a great thing to teach children early on.
Therefore, affirmations can be particularly handy when we are trying something new or facing a challenge. These are some of the affirmations we use for our kids and students when they are suffering from stage fright - it helps them past this block (the fear) and focuses them instead on what they can do so that they're able to perform and complete the task at hand to the best of their ability.

 

10 Positive affirmations for children with stage fright

1. I am calm and confident.

2. Everything is going to be great!

3. It’s time to perform. It’s time to have fun!

4. I am excited and focused on stage.

5. I can do this!

6. I am a natural performer.

7. I am getting more and more confident every day.

8. Performing is fun!

9. My stage fright is melting away.

10. I am safe and supported.

 

And finally, the last thing you need to help your child beat before they step out onto that stage and stage performing is those butterflies in their belly - which really can take over and be very distracting. So how do you deal with these butterflies when there's no way to catch them? The best way is to encourage your child to manage them and work with them - prepare them as much as possible to look at these feelings in a positive way, because these butterflies can also really help them to enhance their performance! Instead of being looked at as an indication of anxiety and fear - instead look at it as a sign of excitement and anticipation for the wonderful performance they're about to give. Here are some more tips to help your child to deal with this butterflies in their belly:

 

How do you feel when you get nervous?

  • Like there are butterflies fluttering around in your belly

  • You may feel like your heart is racing

  • Your hands might feel sweaty

  • Your mouth might feel dry

  • You may shake

  • You may feel scared or worried

  • You may feel like there’s a lump in your throat

  • You may feel like crying

  • You may blush

  • You may feel embarrassed or want to hide

  •  You may get a tummy ache

 

You may feel nervous… 

  • The first day back at school

  • Trying something new

  • The night before Christmas

  • Meeting new people

  • Going to the dentist

  • Speaking in front of the class

  • Performing on stage

  • When you’re about to go on a roller-coaster

 

Sometimes we may feel nervous If something feels wrong or someone is behaving in a way that doesn’t seem right. In this case, always talk to a parent or grown up you trust.

 

BUT when we take control of our nerves, they can help us. Instead we can use your nerves in a positive way!

 

Nerves can…

  • Give you energy!

  • Help you to focus!

  • Keep you awake and alert!

  • Improve your memory!

 

For more information about helping your child to overcome stage fright, please contact the expert contributor.

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