Your young performer has auditioned for a show. They have learned the audition material. They practically sing the audition song in their sleep. In fact, you’ve probably heard it so much you feel ready to audition for the part. But when the cast list comes out and they aren’t cast as the character they had hoped you find yourself dealing with a multitude of emotions while trying to help navigate your child through theirs.
Unfortunately, rejection is a necessary evil of the acting world. Dealing with disappointment and rejection is a lifelong process whether it’s an audition in grade school, not getting an internship, or not getting into your first pick postgraduate school.
Do’s and Don’ts
Some parents may compare their child’s progress or class placement to another child’s. Watch for this behavior in your children as well and encourage them to focus instead on their own accomplishments.
Allow your child to feel upset and disappointed. Encourage them to express their feelings.
Focus on the positive! Remind your child how much they have improved since beginning or how well they felt after the audition.
Process the disappointment with your child. Let them talk about their experience in the audition and listen. You might hear them say things like, “I was awful!” or “The other kids were more experienced/better than me.” or “The director didn’t like me.” In these instances, we recommend a re-direct; talk about the things your child can control. For example, did you feel confident? What would have helped you feel more confident? Did you follow directions? Did you find it difficult to follow the instructions? Do you feel like you tried your best?*
After you’ve established the things your child can control in the audition, create a plan to help improve for the next audition (you really want to encourage your child to try again, rejection is a life long challenge and giving up isn’t a good solution). Your plan might include some special training, an audition prep workshop, seeing more shows and discussing the performance values, etc. You want to show your child that you take their disappointment seriously and want to help them succeed in the future.*
Encourage them to get excited about all that there is to still learn! Remind them that the reason they joined the class in the first place was to be a part of a show. They are all part of the experience and are necessary to having a successful show!
MTI recommends letting your child brainstorm ideas for characteristics for his or her role. Is she peppy or indifferent? Is he confidant or awkward?
MTI also recommends that you should encourage your child to create a “back story” for his or her character. Where is the character from? Why is the character in the show? Half the fun is that the audience never has to know the characters’ back story, but this exploration by your child will round out the character even more. Have fun, but create a story that works realistically within the director’s vision for the show.
Remind your child that no two students will progress at the same rate, even if they experience the exact same training. It’s important to encourage children to focus on themselves, give their all, and be satisfied with their own accomplishments.
*Recommendations from Treasure Valley Children’s Theater:
We recommend you avoid:
Discussing the merits of other people with your child, including other actors or the directing team. You can’t control others so don’t waste energy questioning their motives.
Over indulging your child in treats or superficial praise. Listen and validate feelings but don’t inflate skills and abilities to try and make your child feel better. Treats are great on occasion, but avoid using them to make a child feel better, this behavior can great dangerous eating patterns.
Dismissing your child’s natural feelings. Phrases like “get over it” “don’t be so sensitive” “you’ll live” shut down an opportunity to teach your child healthy emotional processing. Validate the right to feel sad and then create a plan to move past it.