If your child is going to be in a preschool play, talent show, dance recital, music concert, or any activity that puts her in the spotlight (spring is the prime season!), I hope you'll impart this one simple piece of advice: If she messes up, she should keep going. In the last two weeks, I've witnessed two tearful exits from the stage. And as I wrote in this story for Parents, there's not much you can say to help your child feel better in the moment.
When you talk to your mini performers about how the show must go on, be sure to emphasize that the audience isn't even going to know that she made a mistake. It's not like the crowd is sitting there with the lyrics or the script. In both cases, I had no idea anything went wrong until the child bolted. You may even want to demonstrate this at home. Your child can test you on the lyrics, dance moves, or lines and see if you know what come next. You won't even have to fail on purpose. Chances are you legitimately won't know. I hardly ever do.
It's also worth mentioning what to do if something goes wrong that's out of her control. For instance, at a recent concert, my daughter's microphone wasn't turned on until she was a few lines into the song. I was hoping that she would just keep singing...and she did although I did notice the relief on her face once it was working! Microphone mishaps, missing props, and costume issues are part of the live arts. We saw Aladdin on Broadway last week and the show was stopped for 10 minutes due to technical difficulties. If Disney experiences technical problems every once in a while, your child's school is bound too as well.
Once kids realize that a mistake isn't the end of the world, they'll be able to focus on the whole point of performing anyway—having fun! Hope all your little ones enjoy their shows.
Karen Cicero is a Contributing Editor at Parents. Her 12-year-old daughter is currently performing in a local production of Narnia The Musical. She welcomes moms (especially fellow theatre moms!) to follow her on on Twitter @karencicero.