Public Speaking Anxiety
Many of us have anxiety about public speaking. But what do you do when it’s your child who’s terrified of doing a presentation?
The best thing to do is to have your child, with or without you, have a private discussion with the teacher about the stress it creates. This is such a common fear, it can’t be the first time the teacher has run into it, so perhaps he or she has a plan for coaching kids through the process and helping them feel more confident.
For your part, discuss with your child all of his concerns: forgetting the words? blushing? making a mistake? sweating? Once they’re all out on the table, break them down and create plans for handling each of them. It’s unlikely that he’ll be able to go the rest of his life presenting to others without ever making a mistake, so don’t aim for perfection — teach him how to bounce back from a mistake and not let it throw the rest of his presentation, for example. It’s much more empowering to feel as though you have tools for handling problems when they arise, than to plan to not have problems at all.
Speaking to a group is a great skill for kids to learn early, even if it is a painful one. Work with the teacher, go slow, have him do his presentations to you before he’s on the spot in front of the teacher or the class, provide him with opportunities to speak in front of others in ways that he feels comfortable… He may never become a professional speaker, but gently decreasing his anxiety and increasing his confidence is a real gift that he’ll use over and over again in his life.