Archived Q&A and Reviews

Stage/performance fears for 1st grader

Dec 2005

I have a 1st grade daughter that has serious anxiety about participating with her class when they are on stage at her elementary school. We had the same issue last year in Kindergarten. She does fine practicing the song/dance with the class leading up to the performance, but when it comes time to perform in front of the familes/ school, she'll start crying and will not go on the stage. We have not insisted that she join the class on stage (she wouldn't anyway, even if we tried to force her). We encourage her to participate but do not make a big deal out of it when she doesn't.

I should mention that our daughter was adopted at almost 4yrs old. She was with her Mom in a very unstable/neglectful environment until 3yr old and then in one foster home for almost a year before we adopted her. She sees a child therapist weekly and the therapist thought that her fear of performing in front of us could have to do with a fear of failing and thus being rejected/abandoned again. I am not sure if that is the case of if she just has a serious case of ''stage fright''.

My partner and I worry that this is leading to a bigger issue down the road with class participation. She can get away with skipping these events in Kinder/1st perhaps, but at some point in the later grades, teachers are going to expect her to participate. I also want to help her have more confidence and less fear, but am not sure what to do next? We have tried talking with her about the performance in advance and even practicing for us at home which is fine for her, but she still panics at the school. Any advice? Robert

Some kids get intense stage fright. In first grade, I wouldn't force anyone to perform. Even some adults can't perform because they get so panicked. My son as always refused any school performance stuff. We never force him (you're right, you can't). What's the big deal? If she doesn't care if she's not in the school play or whatever, no one else should care either. As she gets older she may be more comfortable and be able to perform in groups......but it's really not a big deal at such a young age. I'd let it be and let her know it's OK. BTW, I was an extremeley shy child, as a young adult I'd have to play in piano recitals...I'd be so nervous my hands would shake so much that I couldn't play, or I''d forget the music. Now, at 52, I sing solos in various venues and LOVE it.Who knew!! Good luck and don't worry. mom of non performing son