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Topic: Obscene Children...
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Oct 27, 2002 11:49PM)
I have just come from a party where one 4 year old boy consistently yelled out obscene words throughout my act. I also had another young girl that kept yelling questions at me as well. Unlike the boy she was quite well meaning but just did not understand she could not have a one on one conversation with me throughout the show. I told her we could talk about it later & she should wait. Still, every minute or so she would scream my name and insist I acknowledge her. At the same time her 4 year old friend keeps yelling obscenities which had him in fits of hysterical laughter.

What do you guys think is the best way to deal with this?

Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Oct 28, 2002 01:46AM)
Just in my opinion, with far less experience than you, Andrew, is that the parents are responsible for this. Those kids were spoiling the show for the rest of the children. What do you think? Maybe the parents should be consulted before the show that they are responsible for making their own children behave. You're there to give a show, ultimately, not be a disciplinarian.
Message: Posted by: Adam V (Oct 28, 2002 05:34PM)
I agree. It can be very hard to get the parents to do this. It seems that rich people won't bother. Also, people who send their children to alternative schools where they don't believe in discipline and supervision won't bother either. Ultimately though it's your job to entertain, not stand guard.
Message: Posted by: DougTait (Oct 29, 2002 03:34PM)
Andrew. Since I do a lot of shows for disabled children, I am familiar and accustomed to abnormal behavior during my shows.

First the behavior you describe from the boy could be the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome which is a type of neurological disorder that causes all manner of strange behavior to include use of obscene language.

The actions of the girl you describe also may be the result of a neurological disorder.
There may have been a connection and you were unknowingly performing for one or more children with disabilites that were not obvious except for their behavior. If this was the case, you should have been advised prior to the performance, and I can imagine the stress you were under while trying to do your show and control two difficult children.

The yelling of obscenities due to Tourette's can not be controlled by adult intervention, but if you had been advised of the condition at least you could have worked through it, although I will admit that it is very difficult, even for me, and I am used to this type of venue.

My only suggestion would be to announce a brief intermission so you could prepare for "the real magic" or some such excuse, and seek out an adult and delicately ask if they could assist in some way so that you provide the best entertainment possible. I realize that this is potentially dangerous since the adult may be expecting— wrongly— that you somehow can 'magically' keep control.

You are an entertainer, not a baby sitter, but often parents don't grasp the concept and may have to be tactfully advised.

It goes against the grain to reward bad behavior, but on occasion I have had to make a disruptive child a magician's assistant and give them a job to do and concentrate on, explaining that it is very important that they remain very quiet and attentive to their job because the tricks won't work unless they do their job well. It doesn't always work, but it's worth a try.

It is also possible that you had a couple of very badly behaved non-disabled children. In which case it is the parents who shoulder the responsibility, but is you and the well behaved children who suffer. Chock it up to experience, I guess. No one said working with children was easy, but it is usually very rewarding— if you survive!

Lets hope that was your worst experience with kids.

Best wishes,
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Oct 29, 2002 05:11PM)
DougTee, is absoultly correct. I'm familiar with Tourette's Syndrome but not in 4-year olds. The language came from somewhere at that age and was not controlled. The parents of this child should have intervened.

When performing for 4-year olds, they have a short attention span, consider reducing your show for this age group to 30 minutes.

Also, puppets keep them mystified more than magic. When doing magic, have them interact in each routine similar to the coloring book. As long as you have them doing something, they will be less likely to act up.

Even then, no matter how good you are, anything with kids can happen.

I just did a Halloween Birthday Party for 5-year olds. There were so many goulish costumes, the birthday girl was scared of everything. With my rabbits moved to the beginning of the show as in this case, I won her over. The one thing I've learned over the years in both theater and dealing with kids, sometimes you must improvise to handle the moment. A rigid act or script can cause more additional problems— flow with the audience. Have spare tricks to switch to based on the circumstances, age groups, and mental state of the audience. You're suppose to be having fun too!

Hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Oct 29, 2002 05:38PM)
with regard to the chatty child, I have seen this before. The worse thing you can do is reply to them. One thing that does work is on one of the Wonder Words series and is interrupting the pattern. As the child starts to make a comment suddenly raise your voice and interrupt their speaking pattern (as they are trying to do to you).
Message: Posted by: DougTait (Oct 30, 2002 11:21AM)
Den and p.b. Great advice. I am always learning from the experience of others at the Forum. You guys obviously have a lot of experience working with children. It is definitely an art form in itself and I admire those who work hard at it. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Nov 1, 2002 06:05AM)
It's not easy is it Andrew? Believe me though, if it's any consolation, as the years go by you will become more relaxed and laid back. At the age of 53 (and my wife in her 40s) we feel totally relaxed amongst kids. We have seen it all— from a Down's Syndrome girl who went beserk when she saw we had set up on the spot she normally stood at the Club she attended, to extremely intelligent but wilful horrors!

There are lots of children out there that look beautiful, and 'normal'— but in fact have severe problems. I know it's hard, but try not to seem upset, taken aback or shaken. If they are wilful kids then they will soon lose interest in trying to upset you if they see it not working. If they have psychological or behavioural problems then just think to yourself "in half an hour or a couple of hours time (depending on what time span you offer) I will have the cheque or cash in my pocket and be off home or to another party"— just pity the parents and teachers who have to cope on a daily basis!

The heat in the kitchen gets very hot at times for the kid's entertainer— but if you stick at it you will have a good life and lifestyle believe me.
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Mar 20, 2003 06:01AM)
As a performer who was born with Tourette's Syndrome, I just wanted to make a note that although the symptom of coprolalia (swearing or innapropriate speech) has been sensationalized by the media (often as the butt of jokes), it is actually quite rare, occuring only in approximately 8% of total Touretters.

I've never equated Tourettes with being a disability - if anything, it might be an occasional inconvenience since it is sometimes hard to focus on the work at hand. It's really just a part of what makes me me, and I think what it has done for me is make me more sensitive to and respectful of differences in others.

All this is not to say that some children aren't obnoxious, rather it is often the case that they are just repeating what they heard their parents or other people say, and except in rare cases probably are not doing it as a manifestation of Tourette's. Though it is a good thing to be aware of this condition, just in case, because if you're going to be a performer, you're going to see all sorts of behavior.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Mar 20, 2003 01:05PM)

I had to agree with most of the people who responded to this post. You need to be aware and sensitive to all kinds of children. Sometimes it's not immediately apparent that a child may have a disability of some sort.

With a background in Special Education and a board member of the Learning Disabilities Association I often advocate for children with disabilities. I know that a child with ADD or ADHD sitting in the front row will cause terror in the hearts of many magi. Sigh. It's not easy!!!

As their impairment is called a "hidden disability," it's not seen immediately but the behavior may be deemed as some as "brattish" or "spoiled". It's not always the case. This is a neurological disorder and unfortunately some of these children have what resembles an invisible built in motor in their systems. They can't sit still and they can't help it.

Telling them to be quiet or sit still would be no different than telling a child in a wheel chair to get up and walk, that they could if they tried. Please don't think I'm assuming that about you, Andy (seems like you handled it well), but sometimes educating the public is the key to understanding.

I can certainly understand the frustration of having a kid or kids disrupt a show. No matter what happens however, I betcha if you smile at the child and take him/her aside at the show with positive praise you'll be amazed at the reaction.

"I really appreciate you're trying to help me. Can you help me with this? Then we'll let other kids have a chance." Most of these kids have nothing but negative comments thrown at them. They end up feeling like total failures by the time they are as young as 10, as each year their self esteem is destroyed by people who don't understand.

I always go up to these kids after the show and thank them for coming and say something positive. You'd be amazed. 99% of the time the kids beam!! You've made their day and of course the parents'.

Urg! I kinda went on a long ramble here. Forgive me! I just want people to think differently the next time they see a child that they might see as "being difficult". Putting a smile on their faces and making them feel good is what magic is all about. :babyface:
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Mar 20, 2003 03:21PM)
Here in UK they have been showing on TV the Austin Powers movies, and also quite a lot of kids have seen the recent 'Goldmember' movie. Judging by the numbers of 6/7 year old little male 'darlings' using the word 'shag', I guess parents must have let them see these films!!!!! :fruity:
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Mar 20, 2003 03:46PM)

I suppose in reality most 6&7 year olds would have seen Austin Powers.
I suppose it comes down to what the parent is happy with I love horror films. I used too stay up and watch them with my dad as a lad after mum had gone to bed (only one night a week, Friday). My friend's daughter, at about age 7 or 8, used to watch the Alien series of movies or just about any gory film you would put on, yet I have a mate of 40 who cannot bear watch them. I think it has more to do with the individual's personality than age. Whilst I believe in classifications for parental advice, I have never believed in it as a law.
Phillip :firedevil:
Message: Posted by: Jerry Hornak (Mar 20, 2003 04:49PM)
I've found Phillip's advice above to be the most effective and used it just today. If you suddenly raise your voice a notch, interrupting the one who's trying to interrupt you, they seem to pipe down and listen to your fun and interesting patter.

I'm experimenting with two versions of this right now. The first is looking them in the eye, with a big friendly smile, as I continue talking right over them.

The second is ignoring them as the source of noise, speaking a bit louder over them, then hitting them with eye contact and a smile (while I'm still speaking) to reward their quiet attention. Both seem to work well at the moment.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Mar 20, 2003 04:51PM)
With the child who keeps swearing, I'd start by politely letting him know that those words are not allowed and that if he wants a chance of helping with the show he must not use them (he's got no chance anyway). Then if that doesn't work, I tell him he may not get a balloon model at the end if he keeps being rude. If that doesn't work, I tell him that if he persists in being rude, he'd better do it out in the kitchen with the grown ups, and get a parent to remove him. He's spoiling the show and I'm sure the other parents don't want their kid using swear words learnt off him.

Isn't it strange whenever you get a brat at a party and you talk to the mums afterward, they always say, "Sorry about so & so he's always causing trouble at parties." My answer is always, "Why did you invite him then?"

I recently did a party where the mentally disabled older brother of the birthday child kept wandering about in the performance area. His mum and dad kept retrieving him, etc. This problem I worked around and did my best to ignore him. I was told beforehand that he was there and he was special needs. It's a problem, yeah, but not his fault. However spoilt & rude kids are something I won't put up with.

With the talker, I often get the "Mr. Magician, Mr. Magician" kid who constantly wants to tell you things. This is a lot harder to handle because they are not being naughty, just friendly. As Phillip says, getting into a conversation with them is a no no, so you have to first try the old, "We're busy having fun. Tell me about it later," ploy. Then try Phillip's idea and distract them with something funny, then try bribery, then finally the ignore them and they'll stop ploy. If they've generally been good, sometimes getting them to help works.
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Mar 20, 2003 05:15PM)
Some very interesting and useful advice given in the above posts. One point I would like to make is concerning the "you're there to entertain, not stand guard..." This may be true if you are just doing a basic magic/balloon show, but if you're hired to take on the whole party, the parents are probably expecting you to take care of disruptions as well. Unfortunately, it does seem to be the norm that most parents seem to ignore troublesome children and just let you get on with it!
Message: Posted by: drhackenbush (Mar 20, 2003 05:58PM)
I've done birthday parties for children with Down's Syndrome and autism, and while I was warned by the parents that they children might not pay any attention or be aware of the entertainment, they were actually, to a child, the most enthusiastic. The autistic child, one of a set of 4-year-old triplets (his siblings were not autistic), actually picked up my ukulele and pretended to play, and acted as a cheerleader the whole time. The children with Down's Syndrome also danced and played along, and all of them loved the constantly appearing bananas :-). So I guess all types of responses can occur, whatever any heads-up's the parents might give.

Also, I have always tended to allow the children to move around and get involved in the show, and when they say something, I don't have a problem stopping what I'm doing and letting them speak. I feel that while I am an entertainer, what I really am providing is a sense of respect for the intelligence of the children regardless of age and level of development; if they want to talk and be silly, that is just as much Entertainment to them as my performing magic or playing music, and that is what the parents are really paying for. A full 100% of my customers have always come by either seeing one of my shows or through a referral, so I know this happens to work for me (going on 7 years of doing toddler parties).

Of course, it is one of many, many, many different styles of performing, all of which can be, and are equally successful.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Mar 21, 2003 06:29AM)
I've done parties for a couple of disabled brothers where we got everyone to kneel down for the party dances as the boys couldn't stand unaided. Their parents were over the moon.

It's always the case when you first start out in this business that you are afraid to tell the kids off for fear of upsetting the grown ups. I'm there to entertain, not baby sit, and if after a few gentle hints to the parents have not done anything to stop the child, I do something about them before they ruin the show for the others. It's a sad case nowadays where we are confronted with children whose parents idea of "reasoning" with them when they cause a fuss is to give them what they want. Children who have been left to "find there own boundaries" because the parents don't want stunt their personal development with rules, etc., are very often the rudest, most obnoxious children around.

I've seen a few.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Mar 21, 2003 03:37PM)
I guess you must mean private school kids in your second paragraph Emazdad!! :bg: :bg: :bg:
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Mar 22, 2003 02:30AM)
Parents with too much money and no parenting skills who just see kids as accessories, yes.
Message: Posted by: magic 12376 (Apr 7, 2003 03:27PM)
Just to clarify, my child attends private school, and would never act inappropriately at a party, or anywhere else for that matter. She wouldn't act this way because she is aware that such behavior is unnacceptable. It is not an issue of having or not having money, it is an issue of parents being involved with their children, and what a particular child's parent deems acceptable as far as behavior is concerned.

My recomendation is this:
At the begining of my show I lay out the ground rules for my performance. What works for me is this, "I would like to explain a few things before I start my show." (While performing rope to silk.) "I will be performing magic so some of what you see may be unexplainable." (Make rope stand on end.) "Also things are not always as they seem." (Change rope to silk.) "I also have a couple of rules— I use a lot of volunteers in my act, if you would like to help I pick children who sit quietly, so quietly I could hear a pin drop." (Pull out a toy bowling pin and drop on floor.) "So, if you would like to help, sit quietly and raise your hand and I just may call on you to help with some of the magic."

"I have one last rule, perhaps the most important, this is a live show, not television so no sitting around in your underwear because that would be rude."
Then ask, "Does everyone understand the rules?" (Yes.) "Great, let's start the show."

I find that the bits of business surrounding the rules which you have plainly stated softens the stern nature of what is being said. This is now more acceptable to parents as it is just part of the show. The children, believe it or not will listen to what you told them because you have done a number of things.

You have explained things as they are. You have done it in a non-offensive way but you have not minced your words. The message is clear, if you disrupt the show you will not have the opportunity to help. Children deserve more credit than what they are often given. They understand, and will behave properly if the consequences for not doing so are clearly outlined.

I hope some of this will help,
Ronald R. Romiski
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Apr 8, 2003 03:15PM)
I remember making the mistake of saying to children they had to sit so quietly I could hear a mouse squeek. They then all burst out into their squeeking noises all trying to be the loudest and out squeek each other. :evil:

I really like the pin dropping idea much better.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Apr 8, 2003 05:11PM)
Hi Ronald, it's just a shame that unlike us some people don't bother teaching their kids values or manners, and take the easy way out when the kid's throwing a trantrum by letting them have what they want. These are the really spoiled ones that shout during the show, "WHEN AM I GOING TO MAGIC MY PRESENT, MUMMY SAY'S I WAS GOING TO MAGIC A PRESENT". I've had a few of those.

Like most of us I explain the rules in my intro, and they then know that the best behaved kids will get to help, and the best of all will win the large bribery and corruption balloon model. But even this doesn't stop 100% of the kids, every now and again (not very often I'm glad to say) there is the brat who can't keep still, wants to push and shove the others around him, or just run around. Sometimes he has a hyperactive disorder, sometimes he's just a brat. There's no sure way of dealing with him, you just have to try all the nice gentle ways first and then if you've done your best but they've all failed and he's starting to spoil the show for the other kids then it's best to stop the show and get the parents to remove him. Luckily I've only had to do it 3-4 times in the 8 years I've been doing this.

On the other hand I've done shows where a special needs kid is present and wanders in and out of the performance area during the show. As long as he's not touching anything or getting in my way I just carry on and if neccesary I just say hello and steer them gently away. It's not his fault and you find their parents are trying their best to keep them out of the way as well, but it's not easy for them as the kids are determined to wander and slip the net.
Message: Posted by: magic 12376 (Apr 8, 2003 06:28PM)
Andy, I'm glad you like the "Pin Drop." I have used this for some time and have found that telling the kids to be quiet, then following up with dropping the pin with a thud, reinforces the idea that it is important to be quiet but not so quiet as not to have fun. Also as emmazdad suggests the bribery plot goes a long way whether it be a balloon sculpture or other small prize.
I do however believe that if you give the disruptive child something to behave it is very much like rewarding his bad behavior.

If you do this I would wait until the end of the show and then announce since everyone has been so well behaved they all receive a balloon sculpture or whatever present you are going to give the disruptive child. In this way you have "Bribed" the child into behaving without giving him anything special for acting the way he should in the first place.

Ronald R. Romiski :bwink:
Message: Posted by: ChrisZampese (Apr 9, 2003 06:33PM)
If I find the kids getting out of hand a bit I often just say "now, who's sitting up straight? [kids will all sit up] With their arms folded? [kids will fold their arms] Touching their nose? [a few giggles, but kids all touch their noses] With their tongues poked out? [kids poke out their tongues]". This often works well as the sitting up straight with arms folded is something that the kids get at school, and they understand instantly what is expected of them, and that I am likely not to continue until they are sitting as requested! The finger on nose, poked tongue turns it into something funny instead of being too 'teacherish'.

I have found that this works for kids from age 4 upwards, but the older the better (to a point).
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 9, 2003 07:36PM)

Should children be "obscene and not heard"?

Sorry about that bad pun.

Just when I think I have heard or seen it all something new occurs during a Nearly Normal program.

Although I have not had that happen in a "kid" show, during a "Purim Party" (Jewish Holiday) at an Assisted Living Center a woman began to talk in an unknown language. Although a lot of people were from Europe I did not believe it was a "true" language. Nigel tried to communicate with her and she seemed to calm down a while. There was an alert staff member that sat with her.

After the program we made it a point to visit with her and others. She came up and touched the different puppets but was not able to communicate verbally with us.

You might try a Nearly Normal zen technique of looking at a youngster who is saying things throughout the show. Pause and say something off the wall such as..."hmm I have 3 tee shirts...", then go on.

As a Nearly Normal counselor and laughologist, who has worked with emotionally disturbed, psychotic, and newly sober substance abusers you never know the response you will get.

Yesterday I had a great time at an inner city alternative school. The puppets, blues harp and Nearly Normal magic were a great bridge.

Keep growing glowing and learning.

Message: Posted by: Frank Tougas (Apr 20, 2003 04:22PM)
Besides doing children's magic for years now (I'm also 53) I am a psychologist who works with kids. As a performer I do not wear my psychologist's hat although I will use magic in my practice. The average kid show performer is not there to diagnose so Tourette's or not is not the issue, audience management is.

I include in my original performance agreement a tips sheet to make the show go better. It includes everything from keeping the room cooler than usual to parental (or big people) monitoring.

It is true over the years I have had children wander in and out of the performance area, an overly exhuberent child wanting to come up and help and then burst into tears because everyone was looking at them, etc. But it is ultimately a joy and when things don't go well I take the time to analyze it and make the necessary changes. Most kids don't want to mes up your show, they are just so excited they can't contain themselves, and others have never had proper manners for a live performance modeled.

Look at old television shows with a studio audience and you will see many people dressed in dresses, suits and ties. Look at today's audiences and what do you see? Kids are into interactive video games, they don't always know a show is not necessarily interactive. Look at the teachers at their schools, do they dress professionally as teachers or do they look a lot like the kids they teach or at best like the college crowd?

Just do it because you love them and love them because you do it— sometimes the fall can be hard, but that's because the rewards are a great natural high.

Message: Posted by: japanjazzy (Apr 21, 2003 01:01AM)
I am not sure anyone else does this or not but when I book the show I inform the parent that I will need assistance in crowd control. I can handle most of it but since many of the times I work as a clown it would be hard to stay in character and keep the kids in line. I am very polite to the parents and just remind them that I am there to entertain their children and if they could help me out if any of the children get out of hand.
Message: Posted by: Pandora (Apr 21, 2003 01:42AM)
Parents often want to leave their children watching the magician while they go off and take a break or prepare the cake. :)

Try and encourage parents to stay and watch the show. They will have just as much fun and the kids although still excited tend to be better behaved. It also takes the onus off your shoulders. You are not the baby sitter but the entertainer.

Love Pandora
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Apr 21, 2003 02:11AM)
Parents often sit and watch the show, and really enjoy it, but it always amazes me the number of parents that sit at the back, watch their kid be totally disruptive and not do a thing about it. They think it's funny that 2-year old Sam is playing with the magician's stuff, not noticing the magician is getting pretty annoyed. The number of times I've had to stop the show and ask the parents to remove their child and they've sat their looking at me like I'm an alien.

I occassionally make an announcement before the show that the safest place for the toddlers during the show is on mum/dad's lap, and ask the parents not to let them run around— most times it's ignored. It's one of the things that really tests my patience to the limit.
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Apr 21, 2003 06:39AM)
Pandora has a good point. Parents often will get whatever they expect with a magic show. If they picked you out of the Yellow Pages because you were cheaper without really knowing much about what to expect, then I guess you're likelier to get that alien look Emazdad talks about. They might not even bother to watch your show themselves. If they have heard good things about you and paid a high fee expecting everyone to be entertained they will be less likely to allow their guests to behave impolitely.

I am only just realising now how important building up your client's expectations is to the magic birthday party business. The higher you can build their expectations the better. Obviously higher expectations allow you to justify higher fees but that is only one area. I started to notice recently that every repeat booking I went to I was getting the red carpet treatment. People that had seen me before would do all the right things like— have all the adult guests seated properly, hang off my every word, laugh at every joke, keep unruly children disciplined, all the other wonderful things perfect clients do.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Apr 21, 2003 10:52AM)
One thing Andy, I don't go out cheap and I do give my bookers a high expectation of what to expect. It's not the quality of the show that's the problem. They get a very detailed sales pitch and a party timetable and tips page sent out with the contract. Most of my work is recommends and re-bookings.

At a birthday party the guests are the birthday child's friends, the other mum's and toddlers are extras. The toddlers aren't catered for in the numbers and I've often seen frantic birthday mum's trying to find extra plates to feed these extra mouths. They're just staying because their kid may be shy, or they can't be bothered to go home and come back.

Some people are just not interested in their kids, and just want something to keep them out of their hair for a while. The Alien look is due to them being rude and thinking that I'm there to keep the kids quiet while they chat and their loose toddler who is not an invited guest is not their problem. These are the ones that smoke and swear in front of the kids.

If I'm working at a social club or holiday camp etc. the background noise from the adults at the bar is an occupational hazard which I put up with, but at a birthday party the kids enjoyment is my number one priority, and to be honest the parents should feel the same and show the kids some respect and try not to disturb their enjoyment.

Most adults are OK, but if you're doing a 7-year old party and 2-3 parents stay with a couple of toddler siblings in tow you know there is going to be a noisy mum and tots group at the back of the room. If it's a babe in arms it's even worse. It only takes 2 adults to chat loudly especially in an echoey hall and they're sat right behind the kids to disrupt a show. You can only turn your PA up so far before it's too loud for the kids and there is a definite link between how fidgety the kids are and the background noise. Also let one toddler loose especially if the toddler goes running into the kids looking for big brother or sister and start fighting with them and you've got another problem.

The one thing you won't find in my show is magic or jokes aimed at the adults. There are a couple of subtle parent observations in the show, and a couple of times where the adults get to join in with the kids but when it comes down to it I'm paid to entertain the children and that's what I do. I've heard plenty of complaints from people who've been upset because they hired a kids' entertainer and he spent so much time entertaining the adults the kids got bored.

My diary says I'm good at what I do, by the end of this month I will have done 403 shows since the first of May last year and most adults love to watch the show. The childen are the stars. Unfortunately as in life it only take a minority to spoil things for the majority.

Sometimes you'll find that you've got a kid up helping and it's their mum that's not watching, can you believe a parent who is not interested in what their child is doing? Whenever my kids do something I'm there watching.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Apr 22, 2003 07:07PM)
On 2003-04-21 03:11, Emazdad wrote:
Parents often sit and watch the show...parents that sit at the back watch their kid be totally disruptive and not do a thing about it...not noticing the magician is getting pretty annoyed...ask the parents to remove their child and they've sat there looking at me like I'm an alien...ask the parents not to let them run around, most times it's ignored. [/quote]
I'm so glad you wrote that, I thought only Swedish parents were like that.

Message: Posted by: japanjazzy (Apr 22, 2003 08:15PM)
One trick I have used that has helped me out in the past with a lot of little kids is I put out a length of rope on the floor and tell everyone that if you cross the rope without being asked up I will have to pause the show until they go back. The other kids really help out and get the troublesome kids back and away from my props. If they cross over the line I will stop what I am doing and the other kids will tell them to get back. Of course if you have a show that the kids don't care about then this won't work.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Apr 23, 2003 05:11AM)
The kids do stay behind the magic line, unfortunately 2-year old toddlers don't understand the principle and curiosity gets the better of them if they're not kept on mum's lap.
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Apr 23, 2003 07:06AM)
I have now added a new paragraph into the letter I send out confirming a birthday show booking. I only just wrote this today. I am sure it will help me. Since I have increased my fees I get much less of these sorts of problems but I still get more troublesome children that I really deserve.

"If there are any children under the age of 3 present please ensure they have a parent who can contain them in case they decide the props used during the show are toys for them. Children this young don’t understand the concept of a show and often want to grab at things they are not really supposed to. Also if there are going to be any children present who have a tendency to be particularly bad mannered or use obscenities, please try to arrange a parent that can be nearby who is able to discipline them if required. In the rare event that I am forced to take on a disciplinarian role during my performance it makes the show less entertaining for everyone."

That is it. Any Café members feel free to use that text in your own after-sales letters. Let me know if it helps. :smiletear:
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Apr 23, 2003 12:51PM)
A good paragragh. It's very hard to come up with wording that will not offend the booker and put them off. I have the following at the top of my party timetable and tips page:

Adults and Toddlers

Adults are welcome to watch the show. They are sure enjoy it, however in my experience there are a few problems that can occur if the adults do stay at a birthday party.

1. A shy child may not join in the party if Mum or Dad are there, They’ll stay firmly locked onto Mum or Dad's leg. If the parents leave the child normally joins in with the other children.

2. Some parents forget about the children’s enjoyment of the show and will sit in the party room and chat. This is extremely discounting and is worse than someone talking behind you at the cinema. The children are the stars of the show and you’ll want to hear every word they say. It’s not fair to the children and Emazdad will tell the parents off if he feels they are spoiling the show. If the parents do have to stay and they would rather talk than enjoy the fun, ask them to move to another room.

3. They might have in tow younger siblings who are too young to fully appreciate and join in the fun. Toddlers and babies can get hurt as they are totally invisible to the very excited children playing the games, and if they’re allowed to play or run about during the magic show they will cause a big distraction and the show will have to be stopped whilst they are bought under control, especially if they wander into the performance area. Emazdad’s public liability insurance does not cover under 3’s, who, if they have to be there, should be kept safely and quietly on Mum or Dad’s lap for the duration of the party.

OK the bit about the insurance is a tiny fib, but it does work for about 8 out of 10 parties. I still get the occasional one where the booker either hasn't read it, or is afraid to tell the mum of the wayward toddler to contain their child in case she takes offence.
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (May 2, 2003 03:13AM)
I know that Andy won't be offended if I say I've always thought the title of this thread, "obscene", a bit heavy, but of course we all know exactly what Andy means. Earlier on I (partly in jest) mentioned Private School children, and of course Emazdad replied —in my opinion honestly and bluntly.

It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone, but here in the UK I am certain that almost any entertainer cannot fail to observe, shall we say, the "alternative" behaviour patterns of many Independant School children. It has recently been highlighted on the news that Private Schools fail children more than State or State/Religious run Schools— the awful fact is that 1 in 7 is actually harming a child's education and development.

Now we have been doing this for a quarter of a Century - all through the Thatcher Conservative years when freedom of choice in education meant parents paying silly money to send their kids to leaky wooden huts with ill or only partly qualified staff, just to be part of the private sector— honestly believing they were getting something 'better'.Most of these both physically and educationally quite pathetic establishments have now either gone out of business or tried to amalgamate with others.

In our location there is a disproportionate number of Private Schools and I have to say that in the recession of the early 1990s our business felt an awful whiplash from these people cutting back on expenditure, i.e. big parties. We even recall parents phoning us and saying, "sorry, we'll have to cancel as school fees have gone up again" —as though paying for private education were some sort of 'illness' or genuine social depravity!

Once again, now, under higher taxes, both local and national in the UK, and school fees (private) rising about 8%, we now notice these people putting the stoppers on spending. Fortunately we now trade about 90% within parents who educate their children within the State sector and will not be caught out again.

So to sum up, I can only observe from 25 years trading, that SOME Private School children can not only have behavioural problems, but also relying too much on their parents for bookings can be injurious to your business.

Message: Posted by: magicsoup (May 16, 2003 07:46PM)
Hey Harris! I play blues harp too! I believe in private schools. I'm not sure about "free thinking" ones though. I like discipline.

At the start of my show I go over the rules. I use humour to explain that rules are a good thing. Eg. "If there was no such thing as rules so and so could tie you to the bumper of their car and smash into things! But there are rules against that sort of thing. If they tried that they'd...get a ticket or something." If my rules are broken the offender leaves the room for a few minutes to calm down.

I once did a show where one kid would not stop interrupting. I had the mother take him out of the room for the rest of the show. About ten minutes later she brought him back (to my surprise) and he was a changed child! Sat perfectly.

When a child isn't deliberately trying to be a pain and just wants to talk to you I try to take advantage of the situation and get into some physical humour. Our exchange goes something like this—
"Mr. Magician did you know that I have a..."
"AAARRGGHHH!" [as if I just got stabbed with a pen]
"Mr. Magician I wanted..."
"I was just..."
"But I..."

By this time all the kids join in and it's a crazy scene with kids all asking questions and me screaming and banging my head on something or pulling at my hair like a crazy person! The kids have a blast! Before it gets too out of control I do my quiet signal (which I go over at the start of the show with the rules) and quickly answer their question with a why didn't you say that in the first place? And get on with the show.

Just a note— I am very aggressive with kids. It works for my character but maybe not yours.
Message: Posted by: WVMAGIC (May 18, 2003 01:04PM)
I was a public school teacher. One of the first rules at the beginning of the semester is that you start strict and then ease up as you go through the year. I start my shows a little reserved. I can ease up later and the kids and parents don't remember that I was ever mildly strict. You can always ease up, but it is almost impossible to crack down during the middle of the show.

Also try playing a game like Simon Says. This teaches the kids that you are the leader and they should follow what you say. The more you work with kids, the more you will find your own way.