Does your child express anxiety before school concerts or soccer games? While butterflies can be normal for children to experience, if you suspect your child is having anxiety before having to perform, this can be concerning. At such a young age you don’t want your children to experience severe stress, so this article will discuss the signs and symptoms of Performance Anxiety and some ways you can help your children to calm down and approach things differently. If you can get your child to take control of their anxiety at a young age, it can put them on a healthy path for their later years when managing stress becomes crucial.
When does it go from Nerves to Performance Anxiety?
It can be difficult to differentiate between what most people consider “nerves” and the more severe form of stage fright, performance anxiety. For children especially, they themselves find it tricky to articulate their feelings, as they don’t really know what they mean. As a parent, it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of performance anxiety:
- Sweating before going on stage
- Tummy aches
- Racing Heart
- Fear, Frustration and or Anger
Steps to Help your Child Fight Stage Fright
It’s extremely unhealthy to ignore your child’s symptoms, if they are experiencing any. Sometimes the most helpful thing for them is support and often a support system can make all the difference in assisting them to calm down.
Talk about it
If your child displays any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important to begin by opening into a calm, honest and empathetic conversation with them about it. Ask your child how they feel about performing (whether it’s soccer, ballet, public speaking etc) and whether they feel any unpleasant feelings when having to perform. Listen to them and be gentle and kind. The most important message to send to your child is that what they are experiencing is normal and that many others feel the exact same way.
Encourage them to Face it
While the immediate response may be to stop doing whatever it is that is making them anxious, this is not going to help them at all as there are a multitude of things they might come across in life that give them anxiety – some of which they have to face. It’s crucial from a young age to encourage them to keep at it and assist them in building confidence. However, there are exceptions. If it is an activity that they really don’t enjoy and it’s causing a lot of distress it may be best to stop.
Calming Down in the Moment
If your child loves the activity but just has trouble when it comes to the pointy end of things, practice calming your child down, by doing things that lower the heartbeat; speaking softly, going for a walk, meditating, telling them a story (distraction is always good) etc.
For some families, stage fright can be expressed in a normal way but for other families it can cause sleepless nights, crying and agony experienced by the whole family. The latter is not healthy and requires immediate attention, the above-mentioned ways of dealing with it can help to minimise stress levels and assist the whole family towards peace.