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Drama is a great way to grow your child’s confidence. Drama is unique, it’s different from any other activity, where you can take on the part of another character and lose yourself in it. It takes you ‘out of yourself’ for a short while and into a wonderful world of ‘make believe’.
Drama gives children a brilliant opportunity to release their creativity. It is about working as a team and encouraging each other. Drama provides the perfect tools for empowering children to grow in confidence.
Most toddlers love to dress up and need nothing more than a dressing up box and some imagination to discover a whole new world. Drama classes further develop the concept, giving out simple lines. Or allowing the child to improvise what their character might say. It allows children to try on another persona, they are also learning what it might be like to walk in another’s shoes. Or to deal with another persons problems. It is very subtly and subconsciously teaching empathy, understanding, and diversity.
When a child has tried on many characters, they can then begin to really see their own character. They can actually start to celebrate what makes them individual and unique.
If your child is shy or lacking in confidence, then a stage school is not going to be the right fit. However, a drama class that is ‘all inclusive’ and works together at building self-esteem, will be invaluable.
Positive praise is important, but not just blanket praise to the whole group. Pinpointing a child and praising them for something they have just done is so important. For a child with low self-esteem, it’s impossible to wriggle out of that praise and to deny that it was directed at them.
The benefits of drama are a joy to see. When a child joins a class and will not utter a word, will not join in with any actions, then slowly but surely they join in with an action or a facial expression. It’s truly wonderful to experience. Then you know the journey of self-confidence has begun. It is important to let each child develop at their own pace. Children should only say a line by themselves when they are ready. Once the child is comfortable that they are in a safe space, that their ideas are never “wrong” or ridiculed, they will quickly learn to feel safe and then can start to really enjoy themselves.
Once they have grown in confidence in class, most children will become comfortable performing in front of their peers. Taking turns to watch each other perform and give positive feedback on what they enjoyed about each other’s performance. Performing in front of a group of parents may take longer. Again, this has to be handled sensitively by the teacher. Some children may be happy to be on stage with the other children, as long as there is no attention on them alone. It may be that they just start by joining in group actions and group lines. But this is still too much for some children. In these cases, the best way is to give that child a role that is still involving them but not putting them on stage until they are ready. Keeping the child involved, without putting that pressure on them. Pushing a child to do something they don’t want to do is not going to helping on the ‘gaining confidence’ journey.
Drama improves concentration, improves verbal and non-verbal communication. It improves speech, vocal projection, articulation and expression. Helps to develop listening and observation skills. It helps improve memory by repeating lines and movements. Mostly, it’s fun, it encourages play, laughter and can reduce stress. Whilst children are having fun they are also honing some essential life skills without even realising it.
Improving self-confidence is a key tool for learning. The more children believe in themselves, the more they’ll be open to achieving whatever it is in life they want to achieve.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” ~ Dr. Seuss
Samantha Hanna ran a branch of Helen O’Grady Drama Academy for four years. She now teaches and prepares students for their London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art examinations and runs school workshops to encourage confidence through Drama.