Performance anxiety

How to help your tween combat anxiety over tests and performances

Q: My nine-year-old daughter takes dancing and music lessons, and says she enjoys them. But in the week leading up to a performance or exam, she becomes anxious and withdrawn, sometimes bursting into tears when we least expect it. How can we help her deal with the stress? I’ve considered taking her out of lessons, but she says she loves it.

A: I suggest talking to her instructors to find out how they prepare their students for performances and tests; they may inadvertently be the cause of the problem. Let them know how anxious your daughter is; maybe they can help by being more positive. If the problem continues and you believe the instructor is at the root, find another class.

In the meantime, try teaching your daughter how to calm herself with deep breathing. Ensure she’s getting other good exercise, such as playing outside. While dance is exercise, it’s not free play and she may need that to reduce her stress.

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