Take a Bow

by Dana Smith Bader
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I have mixed feelings about school performances.  When my eldest daughter was in nursery, she reluctantly performed in concerts for the parents.  On one occasion, she actually paused singing and dancing in the middle of a performance and asked, “Mama, when we finish, can I sleep?”  She had had a good night’s sleep the night before, but the stress of the moment got to her, and sleep seemed to be the only solution she could think of at the time.  Of course, she continued the performance, and, later in life, she came to love the spotlight and the stage and won many talent contests as a young singer.

My second daughter had even greater difficulty in preschool performances. I cannot actually remember a single performance when she did not cry through the entire concert.  I would sit anxiously in the audience on the edge of my seat trying to decide if I should just continue to smile and encourage her or grab her up, make a quick exit, and never look back.  Of course, I continued to sit and encourage her, and, after her nursery years, she gradually built her confidence and was able to perform without stage fright in several school productions.

My youngest daughter took the longest to enjoy the spotlight.  She would even cry at birthday parties when she was the center of attention, and all of the guests sang Happy Birthday to her.  Needless to say, school performances were somewhat of a nightmare.  However, today she seeks opportunities to perform.  From family occasions, to musical medleys at school, she can be found center stage.

When I think back to those days, I still wonder how each of my children managed to go from tearful toddlers to enthusiastic superstars. My constant and unwavering encouragement may have helped, but I think the performances themselves had more to do with their transformation.  Each time my children performed, they grew in confidence, and their confidence fuelled greater confidence and eventually eagerness to perform.  Essentially, my children learned to perform with ease by performing.  It’s as simple as that.  Moreover, these performances yielded many other benefits:

Performing helped to build their confidence and their self-esteem. – My children learned to explore outside their comfort zone, appraise new situations, think outside the box, express their ideas in a safe environment, solve problems, cope with performance fears, and build trust and self-reliance.

Drama and performances helped them improve communication skills, concentration, and memory. – More specifically, they improved their language, presentation skills, vocal projection, tone of speech, and articulation.  They also refined their listening skills by taking stage directions and collaborating with peers.  From learning new lines, to remembering their acting cues and timing, and rehearsing scenes time and again, my children improved their focus, memory, concentration, and quick-learning skills.

They also enhanced their social-emotional development. – By working as part of a team, they improved their social skills and made a lot of new friends.  With the support of their friends, they learned to minimize errors and bounce back, solve problems, and improvise, giving them the confidence to manage and perform in new situations that come up every day.

Most importantly, my children had a lot of fun as they explored and improved their unique talents.  Whether your children enjoy acting, singing, dancing, or even behind-the-scenes roles, they will enjoy developing new talents and working creatively with a team.  Even if your child is hesitant now, don’t give up.  One day your child might surprise you.  However, you’ll never learn your child’s hidden talents if you worry too much during the process.  My best advice: Bow out so your children can take a bow.

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