Many parents ask us how they can help their child improve their performance ability. Even before your child gets to rehearsals or the stage, they might be dealing with things holding back their performance ability.
They may be struggling with anxiety when presenting or reading aloud, they might feel shy when trying to talk to other kids, and they could be finding it difficult to concentrate on a given task. All of these things can affect your child in their everyday life AND in their performance during theatre training.
Here’s what we tell the parents of these already-talented young people who just need a little support.
The biggest thing you can do to help is to take action to create good behaviours before further challenges arise.
When you choose to sign your child up for something like performing arts, you know it will become part of their day-to-day lives. Our rehearsals take place in weekly sessions, whatever their age group, so it will be a regular, predictable event.
The dedication that performing arts takes needs more than just the time spent in workshops, classes and rehearsals. It takes time at home too.
Parents and caregivers can support this aspect by creating good habits even outside of the Theatretrain company walls.
But keep it fun. There will be times of stress, and helping your child manage those will give them better tools for the future. It’s easy to feel their anxiety deeply in the moment with them, but you can also imprint on them an accepting and determined way of thinking.
You can help your child get a wider understanding of theatre and performance by giving them lots of experiences too. Seeing live shows, street performers, listening to radio plays – the more they see and understand about it, the more inspiration they can draw from it. When it comes to the performing arts, seeing is believing.
Performing is emotional. From portraying characters and stories on stage through dance, acting and singing, to the feelings a young performer has about the performance itself – there’s a lot to process.
Don’t minimise things like stage fright or anxiety – some well-meaning parents try to downplay those feelings with phrases like ‘don’t worry about it’ and ‘you’ll be fine’. While understandable – you want your child to feel like they take on anything without trouble – it undermines their true feelings.
Your child’s anxiety is very real to them, and words like that can sound dismissive.
Anxiety and stage fright don’t mean your child can’t perform, but these worries can hinder some performance experiences. It can be challenging for budding performers to learn new things if they’re caught up in their heads, worrying about being vulnerable in front of people. But often these fears drop away once performance begins, and the experience helps your child to build courage and resilience, both useful life skills.
Acknowledging the feeling and validating it will make your child feel less alone. Empathy is a brilliant way to comfort someone. When your child expresses their nerves, you could say something like, “Oh gosh, I’d be nervous too. I had to stand up to talk to people at work, and I had butterflies in my tummy. But before I spoke, I took some deep breaths and started with a big smile on my face”.
You’re showing them that it’s normal to have these feelings, and it’s a perfect opportunity to give them some coping strategies at the same time. It also gives you a shared experience, which brings you together and plants you firmly as a source of sympathetic support.
In all honesty, there will always be nerves – every performer gets them, no matter how seasoned! Your child’s instructors will teach them that. It’s about helping your child find a way to recognise the nerves for what they really are – a sign that you care about what you’re doing – and not letting them become an overwhelming force, instead turning that feeling into excitement that can be added to the performance.
Join A Theatre Company
There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so if your child wants to learn to perform, finding a place where they can get lots of opportunities to be in performances is invaluable.
Theatre classes not only give your child skills learned from professionals, but it also gives them a chance to use and develop those skills on a stage. While a ‘drama school’ setting may bring some sense of order in a familiar educational environment, joining a theatre company like Theatretrain can give them a practical understanding of what it means to belong to a community.
That isn’t all your child gets from joining a company. A theatre company has a performance focus, with a theme and proven way of working led by skilled and talented professionals. They’ll benefit significantly from the training and tuition delivered by true performers.
Joining a theatre company creates a strong foundation and supportive network in which your child or young person will flourish. They’ll learn important communication skills alongside peers and naturally meet challenges together.
Theatre helps young people to express themselves both verbally and non-verbally. It’s normal for young people to fear the opinion of others, but in this setting, they’re given a chance to receive trusted guidance and see others around finding their way, too.
Your Child Can Do Anything With The Right Support
If your child has a passion for performing, you can help them become a better performer by being positive, giving them lots of experiences and finding a place to connect with others who share their passion.
One of the best places for your young person to build their confidence, learn to meet challenges and develop a positive mindset? In a group of like-minded young performers who feel exactly the same! You can find your local Theatretrain sessions using our online search here, and your child can experience the real-life performance opportunities a theatre company brings.