8 Ways In Which Children Can Overcome Stage Fear

Does your child get sweaty palms, butterflies in their stomach, quivering voices, and breathlessness before facing an audience? All these are signs of performance anxiety. Neuroscientists have explained these conditions through the fight or flight phenomenon. The amygdala in such situations transmits the stress response in the body, followed by adrenaline release, which causes physical symptoms at different levels.

The fear of speaking or performing in front of an audience takes a huge toll on children’s minds, self-esteem, and confidence, as many kids have a social phobia called social anxiety disorder. The fear of rejection, humiliation, judgment, and failure causes kids to experience feelings of panic and dread.

Some children love attention, but that is not the case with all children. The childhood experiences of performance anxiety build up over time and lead to people missing great opportunities to avoid uncomfortable situations. From avoiding plays and presentations in school to passing a job or promotion, the suffering in silence continues. But it is important to mention that social anxiety occurs to people avoiding public speaking situations, activities in the sports field, art room, workplace, or any other situation in question.

Research done in the US by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) shows that almost 79% of the total population is impacted by Social Anxiety Disorder which makes it the most common fear faced, topping death, financial issues, and sickness due to underestimating one’s capabilities, overestimating the idea of rejection, and an unrealistic estimation of peoples’ expectations.

The common physiological symptoms linked to public speaking include headache, stomachache, tears, chills, sweating, etc. Stage fright also causes behavioral symptoms, including stuttering, long silences, and the constant urge to run away from situations.

During the pandemic, online classes for kids caused an increase in the number of students who face this disorder due to the lack of opportunity to be around people.

Overcoming stage fright does not have a 1 step solution, nor does it happen overnight. Rather it requires time, a conscious effort, and lots of practice. People can become confident and comfortable in social situations by implementing the correct coping skills and mindset to improve their response to stressful situations. And to do so, kids from an early stage should be taught about these 8 tips for tackling social anxiety and stage fright.

Practice!

As much as exercises to reduce stress help, the most important tip for building confidence is practice. Practicing the play, speech, game, or whatever event makes a child anxious would calm their nerves. Rehearsing would give them the confidence that they are well prepared and will nail it. Parents should make their kids perform in front of loved ones and even in front of the mirror and give them positive feedback on improving.

Give yourself a pep talk.

Words of motivation from other people or you help when faced with stressful situations. Children must tell themselves a motivating and positive mantra to calm their nerves and steady their palms which would help them perform better. Examples of such mantras could include:

  • I have done this before, and I can do it again.
  • Even if I feel nervous, I can act confident.
  • No one is perfect!
Stage Fear

Deep Breathing

Teaching children to engage in deep breathing in such situations can be extremely helpful. When a person breathes deeply, their mind signals to the body to relax. These signals will help neutralize the effects of adrenaline that would have been sent by the brain when the body would have sensed danger.

intake of good food and drinks

The food and drinks we consume impact how we feel during the day. Eating unclean foods would increase your child’s anxiety. Parents should make sure kids are given good food to fuel during physical or online classes for kids. People assume that a cup of coffee would increase their efficiency and enhance their performance but reducing the intake of caffeine and other mood-affecting drinks would help control nerves and anxiety.

Reevaluating performance

Making this a habit that children reassess their presentation and take time to evaluate what went right and wrong would help them perform better in the future. Children should be non-judgmental, and without being too harsh on themselves, they should give constructive feedback to themselves. Parents should make sure they give their feedback to children too by talking about what their child accomplished and how could it be improved.

Expose your child to frequent public-interactions

To master the art of not feeling social anxiety, children must be exposed to such situations frequently. They should be given opportunities to speak up during classes, even if they are online. Providing kids with the chance to lead meetings, presentations, sports activities, etc., builds the confidence that they can do it. Regular exposure would desensitize the nerves and make kids accustomed to such situations.

Transforming anxiety into excitement

According to a study done in 2013 by Alison Wood, kids that confuse anxiety with excitement perform better in all tasks. Since both the emotions have similar reactions like fast heartbeat, it would be easier to convince children to recognize their feelings of fear and nervousness as fun and excitement. This change will help them overcome their fears and give them the confidence to perform well.

Public speaking classes for kids

While other ways of overcoming stage fright are important, schools and colleges should also have compulsory public speaking classes for kids. These classes would help kids improve their communication, presentation, listening, and critical thinking skills while also giving them the confidence to present ideas with conviction and clarity to help them overcome stage fright. In this day and age, online classes for kids have gained a lot of momentum. Parents can also get their children registered for online public speaking classes, which would allow them to stand tall and face a large audience fearlessly.

These tips would help parents prepare their children for a better future by overcoming their stage fear, building the ability to voice opinions, boosting confidence, and enhancing their leadership skills.

© Ruchie Verma.

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Ruchi Verma

Certified parenting teen practitioner, multiple Award winner, mother of two active kids believes in sharing the right source of information to readers which could help them in every possible way!!

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26 Comments

  1. Most children these days come with a whole lot of confidence but peer pressure makes them nervous on the stage. You have listed out the right points for overcoming stage fear. I used to teach personality development to school kids and the first thing I used to ask them was. What is fear and list out what is fear? I used to tell them that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. And I used to strike out all their fears. Then the points you have mentioned.

    1. I really loved the full form of FEAR… Thanks for sharing this

  2. Great tips Ruchi. public speaking is an art and many kids feel anxious when it comes to perform on stage. I remember of doing mirror practice during childhood before any event of public speaking and it has helped me a lot to gain confidence and reduce the performence anxiety.

    1. Thanks Surbhi!! Yes Mirror practice even I used to do a lot!!

  3. *performance ( sorry for typo)

  4. Public interactions and participations are the most beneficial and organic ways to help our children overcome the stage fear. I personally have always loved to calm and prepare myself with self pep talks.

  5. You are right the fear does not disappear overnight, we need to work with child and positive affirmations and practise helps a lot in such cases.

  6. One thing that I follow is to allow my kids to speak a lot. We have talks nd Q&A discussions so their view points widens and also they start having an opinion. Practise and boost is one thing which cam help a lot in beating stage fear.

    1. That’s really a great way to let kids speak their minds. Great to know this Hansa!!

  7. Public speaking is something that most kids ace and some shy away from. These tips would definitely help them to get away from stage fear

    1. Thanks Sindhu for hopping and liking these tips!!

  8. As someone who has been a public speaker for many years, one piece of advice I can add is to simply not overthink it. Just get on to the stage and keep a blank mind, you will be amazed at how easily whatever you have practices comes to you.

    1. So true Noor, we need to stop overthinking and go with the flow!!

  9. Beautiful topic selected by you i have seen one of my class mate ..during our graduation first year when she was asked to speak before whole class ..she could speak few words and i observed she was shivering and came runningly to her place and started crying .so from that day only i decided i will make my kids to have public interactions more than me.

    1. I agree we must have seen someone close with this or even it could be any one of us itself, it’s important today to give kids an open platform to come out of this fear.

  10. Stage fear is something which is natural and can be easily overcome by practice. These are some really nice and practical ways that are sure o groom kids to face an audience and overcome stage fear.

  11. Shreemayee Chattopadhyay

    Nice tips Ruchi. Stage fright is very normal in kids. My elder son would get nervous as he was a bit shy. I always would talk to him gently, prepare him slowly and he felt much relaxed.

  12. I agree Ruchi, converting your negative emotions to positive does create an impact. Making anxiety looks like excitement, fear as adventure, jealousy as inspiration can help them gain confidence and stay positive. Great pointers.

  13. I used to suffer from this during childhood. Thankfully my daughter is quite comfortable on stage. It is necessary to get rid of this fear from the very beginning

  14. Ruchi, you’ve chosen an excellent topic. We can empower our children to speak with confidence and ease by assembling this toolbox of public speaking strategies. I am confident that if we use a few of these tools and work as a team, we will see our child’s confidence grow and his or her fear decrease.

  15. Stage fear is real and I still face it after being on the stage for many times. These are very good tips for overcoming the stage fear. For me deep breathing has surely helped to a certain extent. Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Every kid goes through stage fear at some point in life. Sometimes, we fail to understand how to take care of it or help them, thanks for sharing this informative article.

  17. A pep talk before any performance, be it from self or someone you trust can make a world of difference. I never had stage-fear even as I performed on stage as a kid. Just be confident and slay it!

  18. I’m planning to enrol my two children in a public speaking course this summer. I hope this will help both of them to overcome their stage fear. When I was a kid I always wanted to be on the stage and I used to practice a lot before any performance.

  19. These are very helpful tips you have mentioned. My son used to be really shy when he was youngest but over time he has overcome that stage fright. Exposure to more events and practice does wonders for their confidence.

  20. I am so glad I stumbled upon your article. My daughter had a tummy ache today while participating in a debate. I think now I know why because there was no other variable.

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