A few suggestions on Crowd Control
by Mama Clown

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We all have our ways of dealing with large impatient crowds, rude parents and pushy kids. 
Many of us have tried numerous ways of ending a line when is time to go without offending
anyone or hurting a child's feelings. All of us have had to deal with angry parents who
demand immediate attention for their own kids. Let's not forget the crying baby led by
an adult who wants his/hers face to be painted. How we handle these situations is an art 
that requires a lot of patience but that it will get easier with time. 

As I have said many times before, I can only share with you what works for me in the
hope that it will make your face painting more enjoyable. Keep in mind that this column
is open to anyone who would like to share and that we value your ideas. As a matter of
fact, for those of you who make face painting a big part of your repertoire, check out
http:/www.snazaroo.com/email.htm to join the online face painting forum. 

Mama Clown's Tips on Crowd Control

1)Never let them see you sweat! This mean that no matter how out of hand the
situation may seem, we are going to keep our cool. Remember that the best way to
handle stress is with calmness and humor. 

2)In a birthday party set up, (where the amount of children are there for the
duration of your stay), a good idea is to use the paint to paint a number on everyone's
hand. Make sure to say the number out loud as you write it, because real little ones
may not be able to recognize it when their number is called. Birthday party etiquette
calls for the birthday child and his sibling to have the first numbers unless THEY choose
to let their friends go first. In this case they may cut in line anytime they are ready. 

3)  For large crowds, get yourself a roll of plain or Smiley face stickers. Ahead of time,
and using a magic marker, number each one depending on the expected crowd. Once you set 
yourself up and ready to paint, give each child a sticker, again calling the number given 
out loud. (You're number one, you're number 2 and so on). Set the roll in the corner of 
the table. As more parents arrive with new kids and realize that you are using a number 
system you can direct them to the stickers and they can help themselves. BE WISE! When 
the child comes to get his face painted, take off the sticker. I've seen adults take 
stickers from painted children in order to help their own child cut the line. 

4) If a very young child is hanging around close to you, not understanding why he's
not getting a turn, ask one of the older kids if the baby can cut in front of them. Explain 
2 that he's too little to understand what the numbers mean. Nine out of ten times they
won't mind. However, if a five or six year old starts to cry and throw a fit because he's
used to  getting his/her way, calmly explain to him/her that the rules are that everyone
waits for their number to be called. Have them stand next to you and give them something 
to do like holding your mirror. When their number finally comes up, play and
make a big fuss about it letting everyone know what a great sport him/her was for
waiting patiently for their turn. 

5)  What about the parent who demands that you paint their kid because they have to
go? It all depends on their attitude how I will handle it. If I can tell that the parent is
sincere, I will then ask the next person in line if it's ok for him to cut in front, adding
something like: "he's getting married and can't leave his bride waiting.."
If I know that the request was done in order to further spoil a child, I will try to be as
sweet as Mama Clown can be and respond with something along these lines; "I'm so
sorry you have to rush but its just not fair to cut in line. If I let you do that then all of
the big boys will try to kiss me on the lips and I'll get cooties. If you really can't wait I
will give you a sticker and I will paint your face next time I see you. OK? If said with
kindness and not a disciplinary tone, the majority of the time the response will be
positive with the child accepting the outcome. In the few exceptions where the child
and the parent will argue about my decision, I'll direct my attention to the parent
saying; I know how hard it is to wait in line but I'm trying my best to get to everyone.
Is there any way you can wait just a little longer so he/she won't be so upset? Or, if
the situation is a mall or festival, I might say; "maybe you can go and do what you
need to do and when you come back if I have called his number than he can cut the
line." If all fails, I just go on and ignore them. 

6) The sticker system works wonders when charging a fee per face. I recommend that
you bring someone like  a teenager to help you handle to money. That person will be in
charge of selling the stickers for the amount it will cost to get painted. It will make you
look more professional, saving you time and keeping you from handling money and
then touching their faces. (We all been told money is dirty!) The system will also help
you to keep track of money collected, especially if you are being asked for a percentage
of your earnings. 

7)  What a bout the adult that insists you paint a crying baby? The way I handle this is
by looking straight at them saying; "only if he/she wants to!" Immediately I turn to ask
the baby; "baby, do you want your face painted?" While he's still screaming I say: "he
said NO! Next?"  If this approach does not work and they keep on  insisting place a
small amount of red paint on the adults index finger asking them to rub it on the tip of
the baby's nose. Most of the time the baby will continue to cry and wiggle making them
realize my predicament. However, if the baby is okay with them, add some blush and
glitter and they will be happy that their baby is a clown. 
Mama Clown  visit http:/www.sillyfarm.com

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