A kid who’s an outgoing playful goofball when they are at home... but becomes shy, nervous, or gets anxiety when in any other situation.
We have all seen children who are afraid to speak up when in a group of friends, or giving a class presentation, or even to simply raise their hand to answer a question. Whether this is your son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild, or student; I have a tip that might help, and that tip is puppetry.
Puppetry is empowering.
I see puppetry as an underused tool in education and early childhood development. Learning puppetry can help give kids a voice, especially if they are naturally shy, have trouble making friends, or seem to lack self confidence.
Puppetry can be a truly powerful confidence builder for three main reasons.
1: Eliminate Risk Using a puppet can eliminate the risk of feeling embarrassed when presenting in front of a crowd since technically they are not the one who’s presenting… the puppet is. It acts as a sort of “mask” which shields from feeling like the focus is on them. This starts to break down the barrier of public speaking. Once they are more comfortable presenting with a puppet, then they will be one step closer to doing a presentation on their own.
2: Play is Practice The “Eliminate Risk” reason above might seem like too big of a first leap, but in reality, the above example is not likely to be the first thing they do with a puppet. The first thing they will do is play. Play has always been part of development for kids, this is nothing new. But playing with puppets specifically develops the presentation and communications skills needed in building the confidence to become less shy and more social with peers. An extra benefit to puppetry as play is it can be done independently or more collaboratively. Making it easy to include friends when the opportunity arises. (During my Masters in Education I took a class called “Theory, Research and Practice of Play” and I am planning to talk more about it regards to puppetry in future posts. Stay tuned!)
3: Be an Expert There is so much one can learn about puppetry. When you dive in, you quickly find how wide and diverse the world of puppetry is. Anytime you study and practice an art or hobby, you start to gain knowledge that goes deeper than the knowledge of the general public. You start to become an expert in the eyes of the average person. Being a source of knowledge to your peers is a true confidence builder, especially to a kid.
All this is just the tip of the iceberg for what you can expect to gain from puppetry. I have seen it first hand over and over again with my students and with my family.