Every parent wants a photo of that magic moment when their child meets a beloved character. Those photographed moments when a child looks up at Santa with a sense of awe, or a child runs to hug their favorite princess, or all dressed up in their Sunday best with the Easter Bunny. Yet what happens when your child does not have the same awe, and excitement that you had dreamed?
I’m the owner and a performer for my entertainment business, Looking Glass Friends Entertainment, www.lookingglassfriends.com. I am involved in character performance, have 15 years of theatre training and experience, and a higher level education in working with children for counseling psychology. I’ve seen it a lot in large community events to birthday parties to play dates. There is always the uncertainty of a child running towards the character or away from the character. I’ve been fortunate to bring to life characters such as Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell, Alice in Wonderland and more.
A few tips:
*Know your child’s personality. Remember how your child reacted when they met any new person for the first time as an indicator of their potential reaction.
*Make sure your child is well rested, fed, and in a favorable mood.
*With infants, ask a character to remain seated, and ask if they will hold your young child or kneel next to your stroller, carrier, etc. Maintain eye contact with your child, and back them up to the character rather than handing off your child face to face with the character. If you can, stay within view or reach of your child without being in the photo (unless you wish to be) or snap your photo quickly before they start wondering why you are suddenly standing behind a camera and not the one holding them!
*For young children talk about meeting the character beforehand. Talk about what it might be like to meet the character (“She must be very nice”, “He is very silly”) or questions your child may want to ask (“Do you live in a castle?” “What is your favorite animal?”)
*It can be very helpful to search for meet and greet videos online. Watch the videos first before sharing it with your child. Look for videos of the character interacting with other children and comment “She looks like she is having fun!” or “Wow, he must be so lucky to meet that superhero!” Do your research as to which characters may not be appropriate for your child just yet, such as a villain.
*Mascot or fur characters are sometimes more challenging since they do not always look human. The character’s look can make it a little more difficult to relate to. Start out with characters that look very human and natural and work your way from there.
*Model how you want your child to interact with the character by doing it yourself. Also, align yourself with any siblings, other young relatives, and friends who can model good behavior and cheer your child on!
*If you’re not able to catch that perfect photo moment you have been dreaming of on the first try, do not fret! You can always try again. The most magical moments are never forced, but happen naturally! When that moment comes be sure to have your camera ready!