My daughter spent over 3 years doing children’s pageants, from the age 9 until almost 13. The last one was more than 4 years ago, and looking back, she wishes she hadn’t. that gives me lots of regrets as well. The whole time my daughter competed, she loved it. She hounded me to register her for the next pageant every time one ended, until the last one, and that was that. The more time passes, the more she regrets having ever done a pageant. What she doesn’t regret is some of the side activities that came out of pageants.
With that said, I present to you 5 things your child could do in place of children’s pageants.
1. Spend the weekend in a hotel room. That mother and daughter time was invaluable, and could have been even more fun if we didn’t have to wake up at 7am for a stressful interview and exchange mock-friendly smiles in the halls with competitors. Plus, all that money we spend on entry fees, could have been spent on room service.
2. Organize neighborhood recitals and talent shows. They don’t necessarily have to have winners either. Just give each child a chance to display their talent, or give them an opportunity to talk in front of others. Although she would rather not think about pageants anymore, they are were my daughter got over her stage fright issues, and now you can’t drag her off a stage, but still, there’s other ways to provide this opportunity to your child.
3. Travel with your child. During her pageant years, we were invited to Disneyland and Los Angeles for national pageant opportunities. I enjoyed the trips. My daughter does not remember them quite as fondly, as she felt she was working while the rest of the family was vacationing. Just take the vacation.
4. Buy her beautiful dresses. My daughter still has all of her pageant dresses. Because she was a pre-teen at the time, she can still wear a couple of them, and has loaned them out to her friends, and used them in theater productions. Instead of spending a fortune on a heavily beaded dress for a pageant, buy something simple and beautiful that she can wear to take pictures or throw parties with her friends.
5. Get her involved in team building and community activities. After my daughter stopped participating in pageants, she started doing community theater. She still has the experience of working hard toward a goal, and showcasing her talent. She added the benefits of teamwork, and lifelong friends, things that pageants advertised, but never really delivered.
Please keep in mind that this is not written to prevent anyone from participating in pageants. While it seemed like a great idea at the time, in retrospect, my kid regrets it. If you and your child love pageants, I only request that you keep it light, and add some other activities that your child might enjoy, without all the pressure and stress that goes along with the activity.