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Play / 18 Dec 2015 / by James

An Introduction to Confidence: Performance for Kids

The sweaty palms, the frightened faces, the butterflies; performing in front of a crowd is a daunting task at the best of times, and many of us would do our best to avoid such situations. From wedding speeches to work presentations, the thought of speaking in front of any sized crowd is enough to send most grown men into an anxiety induced sweat. Children, on the most part, tend not to demonstrate the same reservations as their parental counterparts when it comes to the art of performance. Perhaps it’s a complete lack of inhibition attributable to age or a genuine flair for all things theatrical, but there’s no hiding the positive attitude with which many children tackle the task of public speaking or performance.

So, encouraging your children to participate in such artistic pursuits should be a piece of cake then, right? As usual, things aren’t that simple. Most parents find that with age, children show less and less interest in donning period costume and taking to the stage. A mixture of peer pressure and nerves can get to the best of us, and this is even more evident at schooling age, when such factors tend to have more of an impact.

Most children will take part in some kind of performance based activity growing up, and apart from fostering a love of theatre, encouraging artistic pursuits greatly increases self esteem, develops social skills and provides fundamental life lessons. Some kids will be naturally drawn to these activities, whilst others will see performance as more of an obstacle they must overcome. This is ok, and encouraging any kind of participation is the best way to help kids conquer a fear of public speaking.

You may find that children who despise class talks or presentations thrive in their dance class, or those with a talent for singing come out of their shells when performing as part of a choir rather than individually. Whether it’s dancing, acting, singing or debating, any form of public performance is a great way for your kids to interact with others and express themselves in a safe environment. Regardless of whether or not they end up on stage, all of these classes are beneficial for your kid’s development.  

If you’re finding it difficult to get your kids participating in activities involving an audience, here are some activities that might help

Theatre lovers - Taking your kids to a good old fashioned play or pantomime or even to their favourite singer in concert could help with bringing them out of their shell a little. They can experience the joy of performance as a spectator and realise the influence this has over an audience. It will also demonstrate that audience members are nothing to be afraid of, they are just like them!

They’re not alone – Fear of performance usually stems from children feeling alone on stage. If kids know that they’re not the only one they’ll be more likely to participate. Getting on stage with a number of other kids is the best way to combat this, they’ll feel like they are a part of something and they’ll be aware they aren’t on stage by themselves.

Start small – Getting your kids to first perform within a small group at school, drama club, dance class or even at home is the best way to start them off. They’ll feel more comfortable and they don’t have to ever perform in front of a crowd if don’t want to, just having a small group will be enough for them to develop so many skills!