Author Topic: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans  (Read 6573 times)

scallywag

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2010, 06:32:31 PM »
Just to clear things up I am a different person to Captain Calamity! I have changed my profile picture which may clear it up a bit. I work with Dov as part of a double act as well as by myself.  :shock:

Back to the discussion! :geek:

The extract from David Kay's book 'Seriously Silly' does prove a point... as 'Mike and the Machanics' put it in the song 'Living Years' "Every generation blames the one before". What it shows is that every generation thinks they where better behaved and had a longer attention span that the one before. Did they? Do we look back with rose tinted glasses?

I find quite often its the parents who are impatient and want a a balloon for there child now, rather than waiting; they are the ones in a hurry! children are happy to wait a bit. When doing shows I find you do have to change your angle of attack! Do 15 minutes of magic, 10 minutes of dancing, 12 of twisting and so on. The real art of entertaining children comes in knowing what to do when in my opinion. You don't need to be a master twister or magician; you do need to know when the little people are getting bored.

What is certainly unique to the next generation is a massive leap in technology. Mobile phones, internet, 100's of TV channels, instant meals, emails. There is an expectation of having things straight away, perhaps people in general have less patience and our children will learn this lack of patience. This may be controversial but I have also noticed a change in the willingness of some  parents to discipline their children. For example if a child walks up to you and hits you, or tries to break your props parents often ignore this. As and entertainer I am not there to discipline other peoples children so its can be frustrating. I think controlling and keeping children's attention spans has become more and more difficult and more and more a central part of our profession.
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SCALLYWAG \'one who is playfully mischievous\'
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Captain Calamity

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #31 on: January 10, 2010, 08:44:28 PM »
Picking up on something that was mentioned by Scallywag; I would love to hear about people's experience with parents/guardians inability to disciplin their children during parties or functions and what you as an entertainer/twister have done to ensure you are able to continue doing your job and keep the participants attention whilst at the same time preventing arguments, fights breaking out and full blown wars between members of your lovely young audience. You all must have some great stories. Care to share?

Over to you then... :lol:
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scallywag

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2010, 01:22:47 PM »
Thanks Captain! I think it would be interesting to hear from others. I notice we have a few members who work outside the UK. I would love to hear from people in other countries; does there seem to be a reduction in attention spans where you live? Are parents less willing to discipline their children where you live?

As no one else has replied yet, I'll start the ball rolling shall I?!  :D

Recently I had a kid about 4 years old (I was entertaining 5 year olds) a little younger than the others their. My act tends to be very silly, I drop things and get things the wrong and the children correct me. This little fella got a little over excited walked up to me hit me in the leg and said 'smelly bum'. I ignored it but he kept walking away and coming back again and doing the same thing again and again. I could see I was starting to lose the other 30 kids and needed to rein him in. I asked him to stop because he was spoiling it for the other children. He carried on. I could see the parents finding the whole thing amusing. No one stepped in to discipline him, Finally I resorted to handing out sweets to the good kids. This worked and he (wanting a prize) fell into line.

He was a lovely kid who really did well and I ended up shaking his hand and giving him a prize by the end because he was listening and joining in so well. The parent who booked me praised me for my amazing patience and ability to control the children so the party was successful. Super human patience does seem to be a necessary requirement for children's entertainers these days!

What surprised me was his mums attitude. I noticed at one point after I'd rained him in he started hitting another kid and at that point his mum waded in pulled him out and had a chat with him about how wrong it was. Yet when he was thumping me she did nothing other than laugh a bit.

What is this teaching her son. he must not hit other children, but hitting adults is perfectly all right? Its ok to thump someone in a costume? It really surprises me that mum would have this attitude, but I do see this a lot.

I am in my early 30's; I know if I had done the same thing as a child, I would have been in a lot of trouble! I would have got a smack for sure (now I do not advocate violence towards children, I believe in 2010 times are very different and there are many things a parent can do without having to resort to physical discipline) and I would certainly have been told off and I would have been told why what I did was wrong.
So why in 2010 do some parents seem to feel that its all right to let there children get away with this kind of thing? And what do other entertainers do to deal with these kinds of situations?
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SCALLYWAG \'one who is playfully mischievous\'
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Captain Calamity

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2010, 10:37:25 PM »
I'm sensing a reluctance from people to get 'stuck in' to this topic of conversation.

I certainly have a story or two where i feel my skills as an entertainer have really come into their own and where less experienced entertainers may have struggled.

I think to control 'over excited' or abnoxious kids one must first understand the psycology of what makes children tick. What engages them, what turns them on and off, what makes them tick and for ages eight and above; what is cool and what is very definately uncool.

I think if an entertainer can 'keep it real'. Entertain in the moment whilst responding and interacting with their young audience rather than resorting to an over rehearsed and formulaic approach to entertaining then children will (in the most part) remain engaged.

What is your experience?   :lol:
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Annie Bannanie

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2010, 08:43:31 PM »
This is a great discussion topic.  What I find is that the more I physically involve children in what I'm doing, the more they'll love it and stay around for the final result.  

The specifics of what I do change all the time but here are some of the things I like to do, in a random order:  Have them hold the balloons.  Usually around their neck, under their arm, under their chin, etc.  I'll talk to them, tease them, pretend to misunderstand them (you're 73? wow, you're short for 73).  I tell some stories, we make up some stories.  I teach them how to be whatever I'm making them into (dragon, princess, etc.) with dragon roar or princess wave.  You get the jist.  

I also like to make things that are interactive such as balloon balls inside 260s to race each other (I don't know how else to explain that) or a basketball or baseball game.  If my space is big enough, I'll make a quick soccer ball.  

Another thing I'll tell the person booking me is that not all children will be in the room with me while I'm making sculptures.  This depends on the kids and what else is going on at the party.  I love parties when parents rent a bouncy castle.  That way when they're too excited or too full of sugar, they can go and jump for a while to get the edge off and then come back later.  The best party is where the kids can bounce around to different activities at will:  Bouncy castle, outside swingset, get a snack, go to birthday child's room, come and see me, talk to their parents, and back and forth and back and forth until they're exhausted.  

I also like to come with some preinflated balloons.  This speeds me up a bit (I'm a painfully slow twister) and then when there are some left over, I like to teach a simple sword to everyone at the end of the party as a good way to exit.  Whenever I do this, I'm very happy that I did.  Even if I don't do the sword thing, there will still be some balloons left over for the kids who need to be into everything.  It just gives me more options.  

On another note, I do workshops for all ages, and I find that once I teach the kids to make stuff, they're really into it.  I've especially had great workshops with teenagers and they've come up with amazing stuff too.  One kid actually inspired the jet pack I make to this day.

Ok, I talk a lot.  It's a way to avoid doing actual paperwork or cleaning the house.  Works well for me.

Annie Banannie (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Annie Banannie, Balloon Storyteller (aka Laura Caldwell)
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Dave

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2010, 07:29:06 AM »
Don't worry about talking a lot, I got a lot from what you wrote, TY.
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YvonneH

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Re: January 2010, Children's Attention Spans
« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2010, 08:47:23 AM »
I can't help but notice there were comments above that no one seems to be joining in anymore but some of the questions posted naturally exclude some of the forum (myself included) that do not do shows.  I am not a magician nor do I do shows.  I either twist or paint faces but no show.  I have my own methods of controlling children's behaviour but they are incredibly different to those that would be required to control a group of kids whose parents are not right there with them.

Laura I love your ideas for the kids and would love to know what the "ball of choice" is that you mentioned in your interview when you are talking about queue control.  I know I'll be implementing them as soon as I get a booking in  :roll: