Getting rid of little kids with magic...

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
So, I have a residency at a nice ski resort. I perform magic while people are relaxing after skiing. My job is to perform magic for as many people as possible in 2 or 3 hours.

I need help figuring out how to end my performance for kids specifically.

At the resort I have 3 main audiences I perform for:
-Families with kids
-Families without kids
-People who are there without their family

The issue is this, the families with kids always seek me out, so I end up doing my set for them first. Every once in a while, when I finish up the kids will follow me to the next group. What's even worse is the parents that will see me across the room while I'm performing for an adult audience and they drop their kids off with me like I'm a baby sitter.

By the end of the night I feel like a mama duck walking around from group to group with a bunch of little kids following after me.

This is an issue because these kids haven't learned social skills yet. Then don't understand that they can't just start reaching in my pockets, or yelling out their theories as I go. And they absolutely don't know how to react when I find an old couple and perform a trick like Anniversary Waltz. A few too many endings of tricks have been spoiled this way.

So, I'm looking for tips on how to let these kids know that I am done performing for them, or to let their parents know that I will not be babysitting them for several hours. Any thoughts?
 
Dec 10, 2019
8
8
Honestly, as someone who used to be a kid and still remembers watching magic as a kid, I think the fault might be your own. Kids are perfectly capable of watching magic politely, if (that’s the important part), they feel respected. I’m guessing from the fact that you titled your post “getting rid of kids” you have little any respect for kids as human beings. If you don’t want to come across as a “child hater” by telling them to go away (and offend the parents while you’re at it) then you need to learn to engage everyone. The only reason the kids aren’t just watching them is that you are boring them. Take these instances as opportunities to become a better performer. I’m not telling you to drop your character and be goofy, I’m just saying that you don’t have a problem, rather, an opportunity.

- Jared Knox

ps. That’s a pseudonym
 
  • Like
Reactions: RickU
Aug 5, 2017
287
278
WA state USA
I used to work at a school and had similar issues with the kids following me around after performing some magic. Its happened at carnivals for me as well but both of those situations had some benefits to me that I am now just becoming more aware of due to trying to write a couple lines for you to use.

First benefit I had is the power structer in schools lent some oomph behind my words when I would tell the kids to scamper along, in that environment the kids are primed for listening to adults. Also the kids and I often had places to go or be at for predetermined time periods in school so I had preset breaks I could use to my advantage. At the carnivals there was other exciting stuff for the kids to do, also they were often in long lines so I could easily make an exit shedding kids in old lines while following my kids getting in new lines for different rides.

In your situation you may not have those benefits but maybe some carfully crafted lines directed at the parents and kids that can give you a smidgen of that power. My advice isn't exactly "how to end the performance with kids" but rather framing the interaction for them and the parents from the start. Managing expectations I guess you could say.

When you see kids being dropped off in the group call out the parents in a nice way that clues them in on your other obligations. I've also noticed kids are better around me in general if they see me talking with their parents, this lets the kids that you are someone who is an equal to their parents while you are clueing in the parents about your duties to other guests.

The lines I have to say to the parents are pretty rough at this time but it gets the idea across; "Thank you for joining us whats your name ?? (now talking to the parents) I'll send (kids name) back to you when I entertain the next group of adults..." or "this group is almost done, would you like me to come to your group after this one?" something in that vein that lets them know you have other duties and will be leaving that group and a timeline-ish.


Jamie D. Grant addresses your situation in his book The Approach. The exact situation really where people are using you as a sitter giving you have several kids in tow. He addresses the parents in a nice but somewhat cheeky way that herds the kids back to their parents. His personality helps him in this situation I am sure but he has some good lines that get the idea across without being passive agressive.
 
Jan 2, 2016
1,036
860
21
California
Honestly, as someone who used to be a kid and still remembers watching magic as a kid, I think the fault might be your own. Kids are perfectly capable of watching magic politely, if (that’s the important part), they feel respected. I’m guessing from the fact that you titled your post “getting rid of kids” you have little any respect for kids as human beings. If you don’t want to come across as a “child hater” by telling them to go away (and offend the parents while you’re at it) then you need to learn to engage everyone. The only reason the kids aren’t just watching them is that you are boring them. Take these instances as opportunities to become a better performer. I’m not telling you to drop your character and be goofy, I’m just saying that you don’t have a problem, rather, an opportunity.

- Jared Knox

ps. That’s a pseudonym
It doesn't seem like he's against showing them magic because they're rude. He just has a problem with them following him around from table to table when doing walk around.
 

DominusDolorum

Elite Member
Jul 15, 2013
894
1,116
29
Canada
You could motivate them with a private lesson after. Say something like "Let's make a deal. If you let me perform alone for these lovely people, I will teach you one of the most secret magic tricks ever. But only if you're good!" I teach ESL and a little magic club part time, and I have found magic to be a great motivator. It really depends on the age of the kids hanging around you though. Do you still have those cards with the streetlight on them? That could be a fun trick to give kids!
 
Last edited:
Aug 5, 2017
287
278
WA state USA
You could motivate them with a private lesson after. Say something like "Let's make a deal. If you let me perform alone for these lovely people, I will teach you one of the most secret magic tricks ever. But only if you're good!" I teach ESL and a little magic club part time, and I have found magic to be a great motivator. It really depends on the age of the kids hanging around you though. Do you still have those cards with the streetlight on them? That could be a fun trick to give kids!
Wow that sounds great. A friend of mine and my bro in law both work/ed as para educators and both are professional artists, to get the kids to do work/act better they offer to draw soemthing for them in exchange. As para educators they often work with disabled kids or kids who have soicial issues and some of the hardest kids to work with become very excited and happy to follow along when they get to have and also see something drawn of their choice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DominusDolorum

DominusDolorum

Elite Member
Jul 15, 2013
894
1,116
29
Canada
Wow that sounds great. A friend of mine and my bro in law both work/ed as para educators and both are professional artists, to get the kids to do work/act better they offer to draw soemthing for them in exchange. As para educators they often work with disabled kids or kids who have soicial issues and some of the hardest kids to work with become very excited and happy to follow along when they get to have and also see something drawn of their choice.
That sounds like amazing work :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: JoshL8
Jul 22, 2016
655
860
I read the subject title and lost it lol
I was thinking magic?? Just use an old van and puppy... lots of kids will "disappear" lol
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,597
3,891
New Jersey
First, check out Eric Mead's Bunny Bill Swindle in Tangled Web ;)

But more seriously... how about telling them that if they want to watch (either following you or coming over to you), they need to be accompanied by a parent? That would take you out of the babysitter role and the parents (if they choose to accompany their kid) will provide some level of control.

My other idea is to do a 15 minute kids show every hour. That way you can use that as a way to avoid saying "no." If they follow you after performing at their table, you can say, "If you want to see more magic, I'll be doing a show at 3:15. You can watch then. Right now, I need to perform for some other tables just like I did for you." If someone sends their kid over, ask where they are sitting and tell them that you will stop by their table to perform for them and their parents and that there will be a kids show at 3:15 that they can watch. You can phrase it as, "Go tell your parents that I'll come to our table and that if they can stay for a while that I'll be doing a show just for kids at 3:15." That sends them off in the right direction.

With kids, you don't want to say "You can't do this" but instead, offer something of greater value (coming to their table or the show just for kids).
 

RickEverhart

forum moderator / t11
Elite Member
Sep 14, 2008
3,638
469
43
Louisville, OH
A lot of great advice here and I too sometimes find that the reason they are following me to the next table is one of the following:
A.) Call out whats going to happen = this sucks and you want to punch the lil kid, kidding, but not really. :)
B.) Watch you again so they can catch you = sucks because they will follow you to every table til they do catch you thus ending
in them calling you out or I have had some nod their head and then walk a way as if its our little secret.
C.) They genuinely enjoy magic, may have an interest, and like watching the reactions = great, you obviously are doing an
entertaining job and are inspiring a new young magician

How do I handle this? I will allow the child or children to watch again at a second table, and then I usually wink at them and say, "I need you to go back over with your parents and if you do I'll be back over with a "special" trick in just a bit. Typically this has worked for me, but I have had some instances where I have had to go to the management/chair person and just flat out say, "I've already performed for these children and they are ruining it for the rest of "your" guests. They need to be back over with their parent." It stinks but this is what has to happen in certain conditions.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JoshL8

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
I think the fault might be your own.

This is possible.

Kids are perfectly capable of watching magic politely, if (that’s the important part), they feel respected.

I'm perfectly able to perform for kids and they are polite for the most part. This really isn't the issue.

I’m guessing from the fact that you titled your post “getting rid of kids” you have little any respect for kids as human beings.

The title was hyperbole. I'm a father of 2 with one on the way. Before going full-time as a magician I was an elementary school substitute, then a highschool French teacher.

I don't hate kids.

If you don’t want to come across as a “child hater” by telling them to go away (and offend the parents while you’re at it) then you need to learn to engage everyone.

I can engage everyone, this is not the issue. I have a family show that I perform at schools, and Cub scout banquets. I can transition into that material at the drop of a hat. That's not what I am hired for.

I'm hired to work at what once was the most expensive ski resort in North America. The people who I perform for are important. I'm hired to perform intimate magic for these guys. Justin Willman has performed at this resort. Criss stays at the resort when he goes skiing. I can't approach important people like this when I'm babysitting 15 eager magic fans.

The hotel wants me to perform for the couple sitting on the couch as part of their honeymoon, just as much as the family of four on a holiday trip.

The only reason the kids aren’t just watching them is that you are boring them.

No, this isn't the case either. Parents leave for many reasons. They have dinner plans they need to finalize, their kids are having fun, they hear the word magician and think, "That's kid's stuff. It's not for me" etc. If anything, the material I do should bore the kids, but it doesn't. I do a lot of mentalism, pick pocketing, and gambling related magic. This is not magic for kids, but kids enjoy it.

I was originally hired on for the job after performing for and impressing the owner of the establishment and his family. They were all adults. I can entertain adults. The problem is that the kids like the magic so much they can't get enough of it at the expense of the other guest's experience.

If they could the kids would watch and follow me for all three hours.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Brett Hurley

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
In your situation you may not have those benefits but maybe some carfully crafted lines directed at the parents and kids that can give you a smidgen of that power. My advice isn't exactly "how to end the performance with kids" but rather framing the interaction for them and the parents from the start. Managing expectations I guess you could say.

When you see kids being dropped off in the group call out the parents in a nice way that clues them in on your other obligations. I've also noticed kids are better around me in general if they see me talking with their parents, this lets the kids that you are someone who is an equal to their parents while you are clueing in the parents about your duties to other guests.

You completely get where I'm coming from :) Connecting with the parents is solid advice and it's something I can work on.

The lines I have to say to the parents are pretty rough at this time but it gets the idea across; "Thank you for joining us whats your name ?? (now talking to the parents) I'll send (kids name) back to you when I entertain the next group of adults..." or "this group is almost done, would you like me to come to your group after this one?" something in that vein that lets them know you have other duties and will be leaving that group and a timeline-ish.

This is great! I've used the second line in a way and it seems to work. The first ones a little on the blunt side, but it I think it would work with the right tone. I'll try it out and see how it goes.

Jamie D. Grant addresses your situation in his book The Approach. The exact situation really where people are using you as a sitter giving you have several kids in tow. He addresses the parents in a nice but somewhat cheeky way that herds the kids back to their parents. His personality helps him in this situation I am sure but he has some good lines that get the idea across without being passive agressive.

Jamie's a stud, and knows what he's talking about.
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
You could motivate them with a private lesson after. Say something like "Let's make a deal. If you let me perform alone for these lovely people, I will teach you one of the most secret magic tricks ever.

This is a good idea. I will teach magic from time to time but I can work on being more strategic with what I teach and why for sure!

Do you still have those cards with the streetlight on them? That could be a fun trick to give kids!

How did you hear about that trick? It's my go to teach-a-trick for kids that can read!
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
First, check out Eric Mead's Bunny Bill Swindle in Tangled Web ;)
kids).

I will, haha. I've read it before but I don't remember the details. I'm stoked to read it with new eyes.

How about telling them that if they want to watch (either following you or coming over to you), they need to be accompanied by a parent? That would take you out of the babysitter role and the parents (if they choose to accompany their kid) will provide some level of control.
kids).

This is great, especially for that one stubborn kid who pops up every once in a while, "I got a magic kit for my birthday, so I'm a magician too!"

My other idea is to do a 15 minute kids show every hour. That way you can use that as a way to avoid saying "no." If they follow you after performing at their table, you can say, "If you want to see more magic, I'll be doing a show at 3:15. You can watch then. Right now, I need to perform for some other tables just like I did for you." If someone sends their kid over, ask where they are sitting and tell them that you will stop by their table to perform for them and their parents and that there will be a kids show at 3:15 that they can watch. You can phrase it as, "Go tell your parents that I'll come to our table and that if they can stay for a while that I'll be doing a show just for kids at 3:15." That sends them off in the right direction.
kids).

Good advice, the periodic performances aren't there best for this venue but I might be able to figure something out. I'll come to you, is a good line as well.
 
Aug 5, 2017
287
278
WA state USA
...I've used the second line in a way and it seems to work. The first ones a little on the blunt side, but it I think it would work with the right tone. I'll try it out and see how it goes.

After I posted this I felt the first line was too passive agressive, also it implies that the kids are in your care....which is something I would think is out of your scope in your current position. The wording needs to be massaged a bit!
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
A lot of great advice here and I too sometimes find that the reason they are following me to the next table is one of the following:
A.) Call out whats going to happen = this sucks and you want to punch the lil kid, kidding, but not really. :)
B.) Watch you again so they can catch you = sucks because they will follow you to every table til they do catch you thus ending
in them calling you out or I have had some nod their head and then walk a way as if its our little secret.
C.) They genuinely enjoy magic, may have an interest, and like watching the reactions = great, you obviously are doing an entertaining job and are inspiring a new young magician

Ding ding ding. That's why they follow me. I think most are enthused. Sometimes they are not.

How do I handle this? I will allow the child or children to watch again at a second table, and then I usually wink at them and say, "I need you to go back over with your parents and if you do I'll be back over with a "special" trick in just a bit. Typically this has worked for me, but I have had some instances where I have had to go to the management/chair person and just flat out say, "I've already performed for these children and they are ruining it for the rest of "your" guests. They need to be back over with their parent." It stinks but this is what has to happen in certain conditions.

This is good. I haven't had to every go get management but that's an approach for a really bad case that I could try.
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
2,961
1,096
Utah
After I posted this I felt the first line was too passive agressive, also it implies that the kids are in your care....which is something I would think is out of your scope in your current position. The wording needs to be massaged a bit!

Agreed:)
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,597
3,891
New Jersey
The only reason the kids aren’t just watching them is that you are boring them.

What Josh is describing are typical behaviors which have more to do with audience control rather than quality of performance. I suspect that they are actually over excited rather than bored. Essentially, it is kid's natural curiosity of figuring out the world combined with a lack of social niceties.

Take these instances as opportunities to become a better performer. I’m not telling you to drop your character and be goofy, I’m just saying that you don’t have a problem, rather, an opportunity.

We all can improve as performers, but I think where Josh is looking to improve is audience control rather than the quality of his performance. With kids, audience control is something that is very different, especially when it goes beyond controlling the audience you are performing for but worrying about a Pied-Piper trail of kids following you around.
 
Last edited:

DominusDolorum

Elite Member
Jul 15, 2013
894
1,116
29
Canada
This is a good idea. I will teach magic from time to time but I can work on being more strategic with what I teach and why for sure!



How did you hear about that trick? It's my go to teach-a-trick for kids that can read!
I found it in a penguin magic monthly ;)

I even messaged you privately a few months back to see if you had any more. Mine got bent up from usage.
 
Searching...
{[{ searchResultsCount }]} Results