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Big Sam
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Profile of Big Sam
I just did my first pure magic show in 25 years and it was for a group of first graders. Because it was in my daughter's classroom the kids remained in their seats and were under the supervision of the teacher. However, when dealing with kids in the wild there are a couple of things I've noticed over the years:

1. The idea of a performer (or anyone else) being an instant babysitter is as prevalent as ever. I'm sure everyone has sat in a restaurant and seen kids running wild with their parents blissfully ignoring them. A waitress once told me that these are also the people who scream "lawsuit" the minute something happens to their kids - it happened to her when a child ran head-on into her while she was carrying hot coffee. So anyone who deals with kids needs to plan ahead on crowd control just for self protection. Do not expect someone else to do it, the responsibility is on you.

2. Most kids respond well to boundaries - the tape, chain, ropes idea will probably work well if explained "why".

3. There also needs to be a bigger reward for respecting the rules than for breaking them. For the kid who has an intense need for attention, messing up a trick, getting the best of an adult, or other nefarious deeds gets them the attention they crave. You have to find some way to give them their time in the spotlight or they'll doing anything to get it.

4. Some kids are really, really hard to control. It might help to ask in advance if there are any challenging kids that you'll need to be prepared for. Don't ask the person booking the show, ask the people who work there and have to deal with the kids on a daily basis. They might have some insight on what works well for handling these kids. I've noticed that these are the children whose parents open the car door, deposit the kid, and squeal out of the parking lot.

5. Don't think that working with adults will be that much different. The same obnoxious behavior is usually present in the parents.

6. Try to schedule the show after they've eaten. If it's going to be sugar-laden snacks, try for at least 30 mins. afterwards. Hungry kids can be cranky, so go for the post-meal bliss time.

This said, I'm really focusing on a small percentage of the audience. Most of the members of any audience are happy to follow the rules and enjoy the show, but there's always someone who can be a jerk. That's why volumes have been written on dealing with hecklers.

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes
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Profile of Bob1Dog
Rich Bloch has a standard announcement prior to his show at his Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville, DE. Before the show starts, and for all performers, he plays a recorded message that sounds quite real....goes something like this:

For those of you with children in the audience, please be sure to keep them with you during the entire performance. Misbehaving childsren have a tendency to.....well, disappear.

It's very effective and usually gets a laugh.

For those doing kids shows, the message may have to be altered a bit, but the point can still be made.

Having said that, whenever a performer invites a kid on stage, all bets are off!
What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about? Smile

My neighbor rang my doorbell at 2:30 a.m. this morning, can you believe that, 2:30 a.m.!? Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums.
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Profile of davepb
Having performed kids shows for over 30 years I can assure you it is a common problem world wide. I use several of the methods already mentioned. Ropes To designate my area, (not to tie the offending kid up, but that might not be a bad idea)Stating that I only use children that stay sitting down as assistance, I say that during the show I will be looking for the children that help by calling out the magic word really loadly while sitting down. They will all get a magicians assistant certificate at the end of the show, and have a pet of my animals. As a last ditch attempt at controlling a persistant pain in the bum kid. After stearing them back to their place. I say don't cross the rope again unless I ask you up, as I'm now turning on the FORCE FIELD, I GO TO MY TABLE, PRETEND TO PUSH A SWITCH, WALK BACK TO THE ROPE WITH A FUNKING RING ON. AS I WAVE MY HAND OVER THE ROPE, A MASS OF SPARKS, I JUMP BACK HOLDING MY HAND IN OBVIOUS PAIN. It is a brave or very stupid kid that will try to step over the rope again. (Just remeber before inviting a child up to help, you turn off the Fore Field, then back on again) Lastly I found the best way, is to use the offending child to assist in a trick, then praise him/her as being a great helper and would probably make a good magician themself one day. Give them their moment of glory and they will, in the main no longer be a problem.

Magic Mountain's Mr. Magic.
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Profile of maxpax
These are all some good ideas. I might be able to use some. Thanks for the help!
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