Fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is one of the most common anxiety disorders in the world. It is estimated that 75% of all people suffer from it – that is 3 out of every 4 people. About 20% of people who suffer other anxiety disorders also suffer glossophobia. According to experts, people who suffer this disorder earn about 10% less – they lose out on promotions and opportunities that would allow them to make more money. This disorder tends to develop when we are quite young.
You may be a confident public speaker but it doesn’t necessarily follow that your child will be. As a parent, it is important to be vigilant in the early years so that if you notice that your child is afraid to speak in public you can take steps to correct the problem.
There are no special symptoms that tell you that your child suffers from fear of public speaking – they will simply refuse to speak when they are in front of a crowd. You may notice it when you are with extended family, out in public, and their teacher may also tell you that they have problems presenting projects or voicing their opinion in class. There are some simple steps that you can take to get ahead of this problem early in life:
- Explain to your child that it is normal to fear to speak up in public, but they can overcome it if they try. Find out what it is they are worried about – are they scared that others will laugh at them? do they feel that they have nothing important to say? Whatever their fears are you can allay them by talking them through each and every one.
- Encourage your child to speak up for themselves. A perfect example is when you go out to eat. Do not order for them; instead, hand them the menu and let them choose what they want to eat and tell the waiter. You can do the same when you go shopping – let them choose what they want and settle the bills at the till by themselves. These may seem like small interactions but they will go a long way in helping your child become more self-confident.
- Get your child out of their comfort zone once in a while. Sure, your child enjoys having you around to do everything for them, but it would help them become more confident if every so often they spent some time away from home. You can plan for long weekends with grandma and grandpa or with relatives that you trust. If they are anxious about away talking to them about it – let them know that a weekend away from home is an adventure and they can call or come home if they don’t feel comfortable.
While these tips may work, you may find that your child has a more serious problem that requires the help of a specialist. It is time to call a speech anxiety therapist. They have the necessary experience and tools to help your child become a more confident public speaker.