How Does Drama Build Self-Confidence in Kids?

Boosting Your Child’s Confidence Through Theatre and Drama

Parenting styles may vary from culture to culture and from family to family, but one thing all parents can agree on is that they want their children to have confidence and to be happy. Theatre education gives children confidence in a plethora of ways.

“The self-esteem movement” of the 1990’s and early 2000’s failed miserably. This is because “the self-esteem movement” focused on meaningless praise and making your child feel good. Praise is nice, but it’s temporary. To give a child meaningful, long-lasting confidence, you must first teach that child to master a skill. Once the child has experienced mastery, the confidence will happen organically, on its own, and it will real, meaningful and long-lasting.

Theatre education is an excellent avenue for this. Performing or working on stage or backstage in a play or musical production can be a life-changing and affirming event. In theatre, students improve their public speaking skills, expand their creativity, learn to problem-solve, and engage in creative risk-taking. They learn empathy through the embodiment of different characters and they form trust through the creative collaborative process. Their imaginations are exercised to the fullest and their memories are made stronger. In acting classes, children learn to communicate more effectively. Performing in a children’s theatre production promotes flexibility, engenders the negotiation of compromise, and increases self-awareness. Most importantly, the students learn to work together; there is no such thing as a “one man show”! (Even plays with one character have a ton of other people working backstage). Therefore, through performing in a musical or play, children experience the joy of creating something big and beautiful together that no one person could have ever achieved on his or her own. Perhaps best of all, participating in a children’s theatre program provides endless opportunities to challenge and expand your child’s skill set, because no two plays or musicals are ever the same!

When a child first embarks upon the process of performing in a play or musical production, they may be nervous. Concerns may vary from worrying about being able to memorize all those lines, to fear of making a mistake, or not being able to execute the dance moves perfectly. But through time and consistent practice, each child gets better and stronger with every passing rehearsal. And when they feel the light shining on their faces as they take that final bow, all of their worries and concerns suddenly seem like a distant memory.

This process will make any child’s confidence flourish, and in a long-lasting, meaningful way that lives within them. Theatre education is essential education, and the children who are lucky enough to participate in large-scale musical productions build skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. Confidence fostered through the mastery of a skill is the most real, substantive form of confidence. And no activity offers more opportunities to foster that mastery and confidence than theatre, drama, and acting.