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4 Ways to Calm Stage Fright

Glinda the Good Witch was singing "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" but one Munchkin refused to budge. While her classmates giggled and swirled onstage, Cassidy McDilda froze. "She had this look on her face like 'I'm being tortured by Dorothy,'" recalls her mom, Diane, of Gainesville, FL. Call it stage fright, opening-night jitters, or plain old butterflies in the tummy: Anxiety is normal, even for seasoned performers. Here's how to help your dancer, pianist, or actor enjoy her moment in the spotlight:

  • Make Sure She Wants to Perform: Some kids just like to take the lessons, and that's fine - there's no rule that says a child has to take part in a recital, concert, or play if she doesn't want to.
  • Practice, but Don't Push: Rehearsing will help your child get comfortable with her role. Prepare for the real thing, but in a stress-free setting, such as in front of an audience of stuffed animals.
  • Applaud Plenty: Leave the more serious critiques to your child's teacher. Cheering her in-home rehearsals will help build up her confidence.
  • Take Her Seriously: If your child says she's afraid she'll mess up, don't dismiss her concerns with "You'll be fine."Instead, say something like "I'm sure the other kids will be worried, too! But you've practiced a lot, and I'll be proud of you no matter what."