There’s this common misconception that the entertainment industry is all about image. How your child looks, what they wear, how they speak — that sort of thing. But the truth is that children of all shapes and sizes, and from all kinds of backgrounds are needed in this industry. Anyone with the right attitude, talent, and a little bit of luck has the potential to make it to the big time.
Unfortunately though, no matter how often we reinforce this point, we still see that many kids have a little problem with their self image and, as a result, their confidence.
Now, before we get onto the subject of self confidence, there’s one thing we have to discuss first and that’s nerves. Yep, those butterflies in the tummy that can see a child freeze up in an audition or flat out refuse to even go in the first place!
Feeling nervous about something, particularly something you have never done before, is the most natural thing in the world. Everyone from the most famous actor to a teacher starting their first day of school will get nervous at the idea of speaking up in front of people. Even mums and dads will get nervous too if they’re starting a new job or just meeting a new group of people.
Like we said, it’s the most natural feeling in the world.
Yeah, but it doesn’t feel natural when you’re waiting to walk into an audition room, right?
And it’s not just auditions. Believe it or not, experienced actors will suffer from nerves before going onstage or on set. This is because being the centre of attention can be quite stressful and make anyone feel more than a little self-conscious.
This is often referred to as stage fright and it can affect a young actor or model in many ways either physically or emotionally. This is why it’s super important for parents to know the signs of stage fright so they can discuss it with their kids or teens. This helps to normalise the symptoms so that when they happen, they’re not quite as big a deal.
Most of those will sound quite familiar to parents of kids who have started a new school or joined a sports team or something similar. In fact, we’d be extremely surprised if you haven’t dealt with some or all of these symptoms on multiple occasions!
Some kids may react differently and at different times. For example, one child might get nervous as soon as they hear that they have an audition or that they got the part while another might only start showing the symptoms of stage fright as the big day draws near.
However your child reacts, it’s important that you watch out for these symptoms so you can make sure that they don’t overwhelm your child.
Now that you have an idea of what kind of symptoms to look out for, let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can help your child or teen deal with those jitters and banish the butterflies in the tummy.
Some of these tips are best suited to calming and relaxing your child just before they go into the audition room or head out on set. We’ll let you decide which ones are best suited to your child’s situation and their level of stage fright.
First and foremost is to bring up the subject straight away. Sometimes kids might not understand that what they are feeling is simply nerves. For example, they might worry that they are sick if they’re tummy is upset. Speaking to them about it and letting them know that what they are feeling is normal will take a weight off their shoulders and help them to relax. You can even let them know that you too feel a little nervous but that you know they’ve got this!
Depending on your child’s age, you also might want to introduce the idea of self-talking. This is something that a lot of successful actors do before going on set. They simply speak to themselves out loud and reassure themselves that they can do this. ‘I know I can do this’ or ‘This is just another audition and I can ace it’ are good examples, but each child will come up with their own mantras.
While some kids might feel a little silly doing this at first, it’s an incredibly simple way to deal with nerves through the power of positive suggestion.
Every time we feel a little nervous about something, our breathing changes. Without even knowing it, we start to take shorter, shallower breaths. But this quickened breathing usually ends up making us feel more panicked or uncomfortable.
Try some simple breathing exercises where you and your child breathe slowly and methodically. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This works like magic! It somehow reduces stress and eases tension so your child will be able to think clearly and get themselves out of panic mode.
The human body will tense up as soon as it feels anxious. Our jaws will clench, or shoulders will hunch, and we sometimes hug ourselves or dig our nails into the palms of our hands. Even our tummies seem to rebel!
To counter this, it’s important that child actors and models learn how to relax their bodies and relieve tension from their bodies. It’s good to have a little routine that helps with this. It could be something like flapping your arms or stretching a little. It could even be doing a couple of star jumps or taking a little walk.
This may seem a little counterintuitive considering that the goal is what is making your child nervous, but this is surprisingly effective. Talk about what your child hopes to achieve through the audition or what they must do if it’s a paid job. The simple act of talking about what they are about to do will often calm a young actor or model as they realise that it’s not such a big deal and that it’s well within their capabilities.
And that leads us to our next section as we talk about your child’s self confidence and their belief in their own abilities.
Your child’s self-confidence is so important not only for their career as an actor or model but most importantly, for their own happiness and wellbeing.
Before any parents of super-confident kids skip over this section, it’s worth noting that sometimes an over-the-top display of confidence can actually be a way for some kids to hide their nervousness.
So even if your child has the confidence of an Oscar-winning Hollywood star, it’s worth having a quick look at this. After all, everyone’s confidence can take a little hit from time to time especially after another unsuccessful audition.
Now let’s take a look at some simple strategies to improve that self-confidence.
Kids will always compare themselves to other kids — why can she swim faster than me? I can’t draw dragons as well as him! You know exactly what we’re talking about. They just can’t help it.
At times this can be quite good as it inspires a child to do better and improve their skills or to simply try harder. But that’s not always the case.
A young child actor or model cannot keep comparing themselves to others in the industry. This will destroy their confidence and leave them wondering what they need to do to succeed. Sure, they can be inspired by them, but they must remember that no two children in the entertainment industry follow quite the same path. A super successful young actor may have had a lucky break when a casting director was looking for a particular look in a child. Meanwhile, another child might have spent a couple of years auditioning before landing any role.
So teach your child or teen not to fall into the comparison trap. Think about their own career and keep trying to improve their skills.
And just a reminder that this is just as important for parents too. It can be hard to see another kid doing well when you feel that yours could do a great job too. But like we said, each child follows a slightly different path to success so don’t fall into that trap!
Self-criticism can be healthy and this is particularly true when it comes to kids. They can be so insightful and brutally honest when it comes to analysing their own performances. But while a little can be good, too much can create all kinds of negative vibes.
Kids need to understand that we all have our flaws and that everyone is capable of making mistakes (even mum and dad!) However, this doesn’t mean that they should hyper focus on a perceived flaw that they may have. This will only lead to more doubts about their ability and once that seed is sown, it’s incredibly difficult to stop it from growing.
Again, this is just as important for parents to remember too. While we absolutely should point out any areas where children can improve. It’s critical that we don’t sound too judgemental.
This is another option that could help your child shore up their confidence. Not only will they pick up some more skills but they will see that there are other kids who are on the same level as them. Sometimes we assume that the grass is always greener on the other side, so it’s good for your child to see that other kids also need to learn and pick up skills too.
And classes don’t need to be in-person traditional classes. You can now learn just as much by attending online classes like those that we provide at Bubblegum Academy. Shameless plug we know, but we’re super proud of what we have created so feel free to check it out as there are lots of programs to suit kids of all ages and skill levels in the entertainment industry.
Having the right mindset really matters. Thinking along the right lines and in a positive way can be hugely beneficial for a child actor or model. This is especially true if they suffer from a lack of confidence.
While the tips listed above will certainly help any child boost their confidence, sometimes it’s more a matter of the right mindset instead of a lack of confidence. That’s what we’ve put together a few simple strategies that you can try out with your child or teen to see if it helps get them in the right frame of mind.
Grit, and we mean True Grit 🙂 , is the ability to keep going no matter what kind of obstacles are thrown in your way. This could be a series of rejections or casting directors not picking your child for auditions at all. Every time your child overcomes one of these obstacles, they develop more grit for the industry.
Fostering that grit mindset will help your child push on through knowing that eventually their time will come.
Remember, this industry is all about patience and perseverance.
Visualising is something that many actors and models use to inspire themselves to greater success. They visualise themselves in the role they wish for and work tirelessly to achieve that goal. But it also helps to be realistic in their visualisation.
If they want to be a major Hollywood star, then perhaps it might be better to start out with a smaller goal of making it onto Australian TV. Once they achieve this goal (hey, anything is possible), they can then visualise themselves on the red carpet!
Kids love a challenge perhaps even more so than adults. So it’s a great idea to encourage your child to challenge themselves in their acting or modelling from time to time. This could be by going for a job that they would normally feel reluctant to try out for or it could be by taking some classes.
Whatever it is, encouraging your child to take on challenges in their fledgling career develops a great mindset that will help them to become more confident in their abilities.
Every child has an infinite well of potential inside them. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help them tap into that well and unlock their hidden talents. This process will differ for every child as some may react to certain steps while others don’t. But it’s important to persevere as it’s crucial for your child’s confidence that they understand what they are capable of if they put their mind to it.
Here are a few approaches you might want to give a try.
Ask your child to listen to that little voice inside their head that tells them what they love doing. The chances are, these are the things they do best which is no great surprise. Now, if your child doesn’t quite grasp this concept, help them to discover their inner voice by making suggestions of things they enjoy about acting or modelling. This can lead you down many a rabbit hole, but regardless of the direction you take, it’s just important that your child understands that they are good at things. Once their inner voice tells them this, their self-confidence will rocket as a result.
Talk to your child about how they would like to improve their skills or what kind of path they would like to take in their career. You’ll be surprised at how detailed kids can be when this question is thrown their way so be prepared for a good long discussion.
Then, you’ll need to ask them about what kind of efforts they would need to make to improve those skills or achieve their goals. This will help them to make clear goals that they won’t push back on. After all, they did come up with them by themselves. But it’s not just about that. When they set these goals and make conscious efforts in this way, they are subconsciously admitting that they have the potential to do it.
Being nervous is normal for everyone, especially when it comes to public speaking or performing. But one thing you can do to help your child banich the worst of those fears is to make sure that they are prepared for their job in the best possible way.
If this means lots of practice and knowing their lines back to front, then so be it. Once a child is well prepared for a role, their anxiety levels shouldn’t be too bad on the day of shooting.
There are many methods that we covered in our guide to acting techniques that are super useful for rehearsing. Try out some aspects of these techniques that fit with your child’s rehearsal routine. These techniques are tried and tested and yes, many of the Bubblegum kids make use of them. The reason we recommend this is because some methods suggested within these techniques are great ways to turn acting and rehearsing into fun exercises.
And as you probably know only too well, a child who is having fun often feels quite confident in their abilities.
It might seem a little strange to tell a child actor to be themselves, but sometimes kids get so caught up in the portrayal of a role that they forget to enjoy themselves and be a kid. Acting is a serious job, but it’s also fun and directors know this. A child actor who is clearly enjoying themselves as they act on set or in an audition will be remembered and is much more likely to put in an authentic performance.
As with all of our guides, if there’s anything that you’re not sure about or would like to speak with us about, then feel free to drop us a line through our contact form. We’ll be only too happy to answer your questions especially if it helps your child build up their self-confidence.