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I’m frequently asked the questions what is a good age to start children in pageantry and what are the benefits to kids so young.
When kept in perspective, pageantry can benefit children of any age by developing confidence in speaking and getting up in front of an audience. It’s been cited time and time again that the number one fear of people is public speaking. Having been on the stage since the age five, I can personally say getting up in front of people isn’t one of my fears because my mother encouraged me to do so at an early age. The ability to be very comfortable in front of large crowds has served me well .
Pageantry can be a fun extracurricular activity and potentially a great bonding opportunity for parents and their children. In many pageants there are cash prizes for the titleholders and the winners in the optional categories.
When to start is really up to you and your child. Some babies and toddlers’ personalities are very tolerant to wearing the dress clothes, the schedule, and being in front of a crowd. Some are not. Test the waters by entering a no fee local pageant or one with a low entry fee to see how your child will behave. If your child has a meltdown or it’s just too overwhelming for them, you may want to wait awhile before trying another pageant.
There is a time for everything. Some contestants are adorable babies. Others may bloom as a toddler, pee wee or princess. Or some women experience their first pageant as a Mrs. contestant. You’re never too young, or too old, to enter a pageant. There is something for everyone if you truly want to experience this hobby sport.
TIPS FOR BABIES
Typically, children under the age of three are escorted on stage by a parent. The appearance and presentation of the parent is just as important as the appearance of you baby. I’ve chosen photos that demonstrate the importance of focus, wardrobe and presentation for parents of babies.
FOCUS – Look at your baby the entire time you are on stage. You want the judges’ attention to be on your baby, not you.
WARDROBE-Whoever carries the baby on stage needs to be well groomed and dressed in colors that blend with the colors your child is wearing. Parents, you are a backdrop for your baby. You are part of creating the total picture. Flashy clothes or dressing in blue jeans and a graphic t-shirt, will draw attention to you thus robbing the focus from your child. Mothers, make sure your tops completely cover you, and if you are wearing a dress or skirt, make sure the length is to your knees. Be certain your contestant number is placed in an easy to read location.
PRESENTATION – The parent carrying the baby needs to hold the baby facing out towards the audience and walk in a side stepping fashion so your baby is facing the audience at all times. Don’t carry your baby on your hip. Notice in the pictures how the mothers are holding their children. You need to practice this at home so both you and your baby feel secure walking in this fashion. If your baby girl’s skirt is very full and frilly, you can prop it up behind her, like a peacock, for added flair.
Important general notes:
If your toddler can’t easily and quickly walk by themselves, carry them. The child doesn’t receive extra points for whether they can walk or not. I’ve seen it all too many times when a parent starts at one side of the stage holding the finger of their little princess only to have her fall, get distracted, or sit down after a couple steps. The child gets frustrated and has a full blown tantrum right there on the stage. Just carry them.
Excessive baby talk, kiss blowing, squeezing, tossing, having people in the audience calling out their name loudly, and tickling the baby brings attention to you and away from your child. A beautiful baby doesn’t need a gimmick to make them stand out. Put your child in her dress clothes and practice carrying her around for a while in your home. See how she tolerates that. If it goes well, try a pageant. If she keeps tugging at her hair bow or fussing when you’re carrying her facing out, you may want to wait and save yourself the aggravation.
Give the judges their space. Know where the judges are sitting and respect their space. Don’t stand or walk in front of them to take pictures; or stand behind them calling out your baby’s name or making goofy noises in an attempt to make your baby look their way.
TIPS FOR PREPARING YOUNG CHILDREN
Following are some tips for helping your toddlers and young children develop the skills needed in the older age groups should you choose to pursue that path.
Read to them. This will increase their vocabulary and knowledge base.
Speak to them using proper grammar.
Encourage them to talk with other people and express their opinions.
Practice walking and speaking into a microphone every chance you get.
Try different activities to see what your child is good at and enjoys doing.
As a parent, learn all you can about what is required of the next age group so you can start preparing. I highly recommend downloading my FREE special report, 10 Insider Secrets to Winning. Numerous people have thanked me for this valuable tool. I share important information that everyone needs to know about the pageant industry, and it will save you precious time and money.
Keep pageantry fun, light, and in its proper perspective at this age.
I’m too old. I’m too young. The timing isn’t right. These are frequent excuses used from time to time to justify the fear of trying something new, or making a change. Where a certain degree of caution is helpful, being paralyzed by fear can keep us from experiencing opportunities that may lead to a wonderful place. Go ahead. Try something new today and see what happens.
Rhonda Shappert is a pageant expert, personal development life coach, and owner of Winning Through Pageantry™, a business she created that not only helps her clients achieve winning results in pageants, but helps them Succeed From The Inside Out™ in their lives. In the pageant world she has held multiple local, state and national titles. Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three who has been married 21 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, home educates their children, and is on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com.