How to Help Your Child Overcome Public Speaking Fears
For kids, a lot of things in this world are scary, especially if they are unfamiliar. Public speaking is unfamiliar territory not only to children but also to many adults.
Even if you are afraid of public speaking, you can help your child overcome public speaking fears.
Being scared means having to decide whether to stand your ground or run away. It’s a matter of survival. The brain mechanism for fight or flight predominates all thought, preventing any other rational thought from occurring, including self-coping behaviors, until your mind is assured that you are safe.
Kids can’t learn when they’re scared, and their confidence fades fast. When children are asked to speak in public, they must associate the opportunity with positive emotions, and they have to feel safe.
You can help them build that confidence.
You can help your child build public speaking confidence by teaching a few techniques that will buoy him or her in almost any situation.
- Breathe deeply. Everyone gets nervous about talking in public. Taking a few slow and deep breaths before speaking can help to quiet the butterflies in your stomach.
- Mess it up. If your child worries about messing up when speaking in public, teach the t-repeater Have him or her say the t sound repeatedly. The action helps to expel short breaths. Because it sounds silly, your child will laugh, and laughter calms the nerves.
- Use eye contact. We tell speakers to “look at the audience.” For little kids, that’s like being asked to stare down a dragon. Instead, teach your child to look at the top of people’s heads or their noses. Direct eye contact can make a speaker forget everything, but diverted glances can strengthen their resolve.
- Practice daily in authentic situations. Kids aren’t fearful of what they already know. Encourage your child to order at a restaurant or have a short conversation at a store. These opportunities mirror authentic public speaking situations and build success.
Create a diversion
The Kennedy Center suggests turning public speaking into a game especially just before a big performance.
What if my child can’t overcome public speaking fears?
If stage fright turns into mild anxiety that prevents your child from learning or socializing, consider working with a cognitive behaviorist who can assist you in teaching coping responses, such as isolating physical sensations and identifying positive responses.
By helping your child overcome public speaking fears, you’ll help him or her develop positive self-worth and demonstrate leadership qualities.