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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Kids that are afraid of magicians? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mago Mai
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There are times when you walk into a party and find a couple of kids that are afraid of the magician.

How to you handle these situations? You might see a parent dragging his kid to meet you while the kid is crying because he doesn't want to get any closer to you. Or you see a mother walking to a seat in the first row and the kid doesn't want to.
Mago Mai
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BryanDreyfus
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Parents don't seem to understand that forcing the child into close proximity is traumatic to the child.
What is best is to give the child their "comfort" zone and allow an experienced children's entertainer to expand the "zone" by gentleness and the childs natural willingness to participate.

I used to put my hand up like a cop stopping the parent, stepping back while speaking slowly and calmly, explaining that screaming kids scare you. Back up until you see a relaxation in the child and stop. Talk to the child from that distance (could be quite a distance sometimes) you will see a relaxation happening and ask if you can show her something. Oops, I need someone to hold this (look around) could you hold it? If yes you have been invited in, still tread softly. You will know by watching when the "tenseness" level drops. It is the cue to try another step until a touch is possible (putting something in their hand) That is about it. Never ruin it by getting wild, keep it low key for the skittish.


Bryan
Oh sure, I can spell "Antidisestablishmentarianism", but I can't type t-h-e.
Emazdad
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Plymouth UK
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Bryan, you've summed it up perfectly, a gentle approach and let the kid make the moves towards you.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
p.b.jones
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Hi,
It is for this very reason that I do not use the birthday child as my first helper and not until about 15 mins into the show after they have had a good laugh and some fun and seen that I am a nice fun guy. I never fail to find at least on child at the party who is out going enough to help me near the begining of the show and this system works fine for me.
Phillip
Emazdad
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Normally the birthday child helps with the first and last trick. But if they're shy, and when I ask them if they'd like to help first time they say no I don't force them. I move straight on to another child. By the time I get to the last trick, the shy birthday child is keen to help as they've been reassured by watching the other helpers.

I have a pretty good success rate with shy children. I had one once who ran upstairs screaming the moment I walked in the house. 10 minutes later he's standing next to me doing magic.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
WR
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In my show I identify with the kids and act non-threating (This is hard to do as I am 6'6 and 280lbs.) I kinda mess up on the first effect, kind of. It works, but not really the way it is suppose to. The next effect I do is a "please examine this and see if" effect where I hand out something for 3 kids to look at. By this time I have an idea who is scared and not. I call on them to help with the next effect so others see there is nothing to fear.
Just my 2 cents worth,
WR Smile
"Tell Em WR sent Ya."
harris
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I talk to the booker of the Nearly Normal Program to learn about the personalities of the birthday person.(regardless of if they are 4 or 40 or 92)

Some who are reported "on the shy side" do warm up. I agree with the idea of waiting to use the birthday person till later in the program for that special moment.(of course there are always exceptions to every rule)

I am also have been asked during the information phase of the phone call:

"You don't wear a costume do you." GOOD is a usual answer when I tell them what I wear.

Usually Turtle Neck and pants and vest.

For some shows I make a bit of switching to my oversized brightly colored slippers.(my tip of my hat to Mr. Rogers)

I also start most programs making mistakes i.e. blowing the wrong end of the balloon, untying my slippers instead of my street shoes in attempt to get my street shoes off.

Great thread.

Thanks for helping me think.

Harris

Along this line, I work at a school with a Teacher that is afraid of Ventriloquist and Puppets. This is not a joke. (although at first I thought it was)

In fact today I was going to send her one of my Nearly Normal Right to Play certificates then I remembered it has pictures of me and my puppets on it.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
Frank Tougas
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I never have the birthday child come on first it is too intimidating, I ask the birthday child to choose someone from the group to come up and help introduce me. This clearly places the "Guest of Honor" in a decidedly important role. I have them pick someone following the three rules, sitting down, looking at me and not talking with another. As the show goes on and the child gains confidence they may even raise a hand to help but I again give them status by letting them know I have something special in mind for them a little later on. It is important for me to have established rapport with the birthday child as the next to last trick, actually a spot that takes 15 - 20 min is all for them. This is not the time to discover they are shy or worse, afraid of the magician.

Another thing is to physically get to their level. I too am a big guy and I often will get on my knees when talking to a child. Some big looming adult in a funny costume can be overwhelming for the shy child.

Of course not all birthday kids are shy and in that case establishing the initial relationship is not a problem. I still however, approach it with establishing that relationship first as it is what makes the magic possible.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Chrystal
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Nope never had that happen truthfully...I'm usually afraid of them! Smile

Great advice Bryan!
p.b.jones
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Nope never had that happen truthfully...I'm usually afraid of them!

Great advice Bryan!

Hi,
Yes I think women do have an advantage in this aspect. At least here in the UK young children 2 - 5 have very little contact with males outside of the family group. Very few infant schools /playgroups have any male teachers so this is bound to have a bearing on how the children react. Oh yes! In my conf letter/tip sheet I ask that to help your child be calm and enjoy their party on the day please do not tease them with statements like "the magician will turn you into a frog" as this may cause them to be a little nevous of me on the day.
Phillip
Adam V
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I threaten to throw chairs at them until they stop crying.
Adam V - 9 out of 10 dentists recommend him.
Billy Whizz
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Frankft, I would never let the birthday child, or any child choose a helper for me. As we all know, the helper has to be the right sort of child, some can be a real pain once their up with you, the birthday child will just pick one of their own friends. That friend could be a nightmare child. I would ALWAYS pick the helper myself.
Emazdad
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I spend a lot of my show crouched down so I'm at the same level as the helper, it plays havoc with my knees but it makes them feel happier. I'm not towering over them all the time. I also crouch down when I introduce myself to the birthday child on arrival at the party.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Mago Mai
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Thanks for all your inputs so far. I knew that we could get very nice helpful information from you all. I would like to add something on the comfort zone's theme.

Bryan said:
"...What is best is to give the child their "comfort" zone and allow an experienced children's entertainer to expand the "zone" by gentleness and the childs natural willingness to participate.."

Here is one of my ways to get kids to trust me.

It is a must that kids trust me so that they will let me step into their "comfort zone".It will be easier when they are with their father or mother and If that is the case,here is what I do:

It is very important in the beginning to avoid any eye contact with the kids and I have to let them figure out that I am not a threat for them.

The easiest way to do this is by not getting any closer to them than what they allow me. I try to find another kid that is around and that I've already met and call him. Once this other kid is close to me, I tell him that I have candies for everybody at this party. I reach into my pockets and bring some candies out. Give him one and shake hands with him while I compliment him for saying thanks.(Some times I have to remind them).

The shy kid can tell by now that I am nice to other kids. Then, I offer one candy to his parent, give it to him and shake hands and smile. Now,the kid figures that if his father is not afraid of me, why should he.

I step back a little (one or two steps)
Look at the kid but not directly to his eyes, make a nice comment on his clothing. He might have a shirt with batman, spiderman or any other super hero on it.

I make the spiderman's gesture and let him know that he is my favorite too. I ask his parent to tell me his name and tell him: "I bet your son loves you a lot", then ask the kid to tell me his name.

He might talk to me by now. Remember I am still outside his comfort zone. By the way this zone narrows as he feels confident.
(being close to his parent helps)

I act like I couldn't hear and ask him again
while holding a candy in one hand. I can't hear him because I am to far away, so I step in a little closer and closer holding one hand close to my ear until I am next to him and give him his candy. If he still doesn't take it,I give it to his parent. I step back again and say see you later.

By doing this,I try to let the kids find out by themself that I am a nice person and that they can trust me.

I will post some more examples of techniques that work for me when handling kids. I hope you give them a try. Please,let me know if they work for you all. Bye.
Mago Mai
I invite all of you to share some of my magic on videos.Please, CLICK HERE
Cheshire Cat
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Unfortunately it's a fact that you have to repair the damage done by other entertainers on some occasions. I assume that all of us can spot a shy or frightened child at an early opportunity. I tend to leave them alone for a while and give them chance to "expand" in their own good time. Hey, and I'm such a pleasant, non threatening person (when I'm working!!!) - they always quickly take to me!! I don't crouch down though as it can sometimes cause one to break wind!
Emazdad
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I did a party today where every kid at the start wouldn't leave Mums side. None would talk to me, and I knew I had my work cut out. I started the party nice and gently, (luckily it was a 2-hour party so I had the games to do before the magic show). It took a good 10 minutes to gently get them participating. Lots of prizes were given out for made up achievments, the Mum's did their best to join in with the kids and they gradually came round one at at time. By the time we got to the magic show they were really up for it. What I thought was going to be a disaster ended up being a pretty good party.
Yours Funfully
Clive "Emazdad" Hemsley
www.emazdad.com

"Magic is a secret, without the secret there is no magic"

Remember there are only 3 types of people in the world, those that can count and those that can't.
Evan
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I sometimes will sit right down and make myself very comfy, so then i am sitting like the rest of them. I do this only for tricks like "magic coloring book" becuase it is big and colorful, and told in a "story" manor.

Hope this helps,

Evan
Frank Tougas
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Billy; Interesting point of view and I can see your point of view. I do have faith in my ability to connect with the kids and have high behavioral expectations for them. I guess it is my training as a child psychologist that gives me that confidence. So in twenty plus years I have seldom been burned by having the birthday child pick someone to introduce me. If it does turn out to be someone unacceptable I do retain the right of first refusal. As for nightmare kids, it is going to happen some time or later, when it does I give them a gentle warning about helping with the show and not being a show, if it takes a second warning I send them back to their seat and pick another. Remember the rules? Sitting quietly, facing forward (attention) and not talking to others? A nightmare child can seldom do all three.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Peter Marucci
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Usually the kids aren't afraid of me until AFTER I've performed!
Smile
Nick Alexander
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I agree with Adam V, just throw chairs at them.
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