Saturday, December 11, 2010

How to get the stage fright out of... mommy

When your kids go up on stage for school shows, piano recitals, for any big crowd performances --don't you ever feel that grip of terror as soon as the theater curtains open?

Well, I'm a living testament to this.  I'm a bundle of nerves.  What if Miro makes a wrong step in his group dance and everyone laughs at him?  What if during the bow, Kenji accidentally rips his costume, or worse, falls off the platform?! 

It's a given.  Moms are natural empaths when it comes to their children.  This is great.  This is support.  But, without you knowing it, you can make things worse by showing how terrified you are for your child.

Good thing I've devised a simple list of rules to abide by whenever school shows are in season.

Rule 1:  Never rehearse the kids before the big show.   Chances are, they're scared enough as it is.  If you try and get them to 'do better' by practicing, they'll think it's some kind of chore they need to perfect.  It's a kids' show, for chrissakes!  Not the Grammys.

Rule 2:  Never make a big deal about the performance.  "Oh my God!  Today's the big show!  Where are your costumes?!! Do you remember the words to your song?  How's your dancing feet?  Imagine the audience naked!"  Going into this rambling state will prove to be contagious.  Don't be a germ.

Rule 3:  When stress during rehearsals mounts and your child decides to back out, don't immediately agree.  Pre-performance jitters are normal.  But pulling him out every time he gets them won't be helping him any in the future.  Talk to his teacher, see what's up, and then tell him that he should at least try because you believe he'll do a damn good job.

Rule 4:  Make your presence felt when he's onstage.  My boys always make me promise that they should see me in the audience.  And I keep that promise.  So I come to the theater early to score a good front seat.  When the lights dim and my boys come on and start to survey the area -- I wave.  No, I make some obnoxiously huge arm signals so they're sure to see me.  You have no idea how big a pressure is lifted off their shoulders as soon as they see their parents in that throng of people.  Your presence --it's an instant self-assurance boost. 

Rule 4, subsection a:  Be obnoxious for ONLY a split second.  The objective is just to make sure your kid sees where you are.  If you keep on waving, hooting, and cheering for your kid right in the middle of the performance, that's just annoying.

Rule 5:  Be a bubbling fountain of positive reinforcement!  SMILE!  When my boys make a mistake on stage, the first thing they do is look in my direction.  Like they want to jump off and run to me.  What I do is smile my biggest, do a silent clap of utmost glee, and pretend I didn't see the mistake at all.  Remember that your kids are performing for YOU.  They'll want your approval every step of the way.  If you gasp or show equal worry to their fumble, they'll feel they've let you down. 

Stage fright happens --even to moms. But just as your child feeds on your fear, he feeds on your confidence, too.  It's your choice where you want to take it.

So far, I've mastered everything on my list.  Except for the 'being obnoxious' part.  Sometimes I glitch. :P

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