Your kid is devastated that he flubbed his lines at the school concert. Here’s how to get him back on his feet.
Just when you thought everything was going well, your five-year-old’s self-confidence has taken a severe dip. He had practised so hard for the year-end school concert. Week after week, he rehearsed his part at home and in school.
But on the big day… he forgot his lines and the audience howled with laughter! Despite your efforts, he still hasn’t got over that brief moment of failure and you have a hard job ahead trying to rebuild his confidence. Consider the following five-stage recovery plan.
STAGE 1: LISTEN
Take him seriously. As far as you are concerned, that moment of forgetfulness in the school play was minor, and you know that everyone will soon forget about it. But it will stay with your kid for a long time. At best, he was upset and embarrassed and, at worse, he was ashamed of himself. So listen sensitively to what he says about his performance, be sympathetic, and then offer lots of reassurance that everybody makes mistakes sometimes, that his friends will soon stop talking about it, and that you are delighted that he got a speaking part in the first place.
STAGE 2: EMPHASISE EFFORT
Emphasise that effort matters, whatever the end result. Point out that he tried hard to gain a speaking role, whereas there were many of his classmates who were too afraid to try. Remind him that he gave it his best shot by rehearsing his lines so often with you in the weeks before, and explain that you realise how much courage he needed to stand up in front of such a large audience. This way, he can see how proud you are that he put in all that effort and that you will always be pleased as long as he tries his best, no matter what happens.
STAGE 3: HIGHLIGHT POSITIVES
True, he didn’t do well on this particular occasion – perhaps he was distracted at the last moment by one of his peers, or he was simply overwhelmed by the size of the audience. But remind him of the many previous times when he did succeed at challenges. And add that his friends in school like him because of his wonderful personality, his kindness, his sense of humour and his many other talents and abilities. None of that has been changed by this incident.
STAGE 4: RETHINK STRATEGIES
Help your child to learn from this experience so that he can improve the next time. Discuss how he prepared for the school play and try to identify what he did right and what he might do better in future. For instance, maybe he did rehearse lots before the play but, perhaps in the future, he could practise beforehand with a range of different people, in front of a small audience of friends or relatives. And maybe he could ask to stand on the school stage before the play so that he has a sense of what it will feel like on the actual day itself.
STAGE 5: TRY AGAIN
Make sure he doesn’t give up. The fact that he has failed on one occasion doesn’t mean he should stop trying. Persuade him to go for a part in the next school concert or show. Of course, he might be reluctant to run the risk of another failure in front of such a large audience – and you shouldn’t force him into it if he is totally against it – but reassure him that if he tries again, you’ll provide him with even more help and support, and that he’ll use a different practice approach which will make success more likely.
By Dr. Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, November 2014