I always end my show with the birthday child coming up to help out with a very special trick and some extra special treatment. If they are still shy for this special part of the show then unfortunately the ending of an otherwise great show may not finish on the high that it should do.
One little trick I use for this is to use a particularly energetic friend to coax them up and come up together and share the props needed to magic the magic work. I then put a little bit more focus on the birthday child if they can handle it and their friend offers a great supporting hand….
For some children, the shouting, children, music (louder than normal), the sound of a microphone, and collective voices of other children can be a bit overwhelming, so another great little tip/trick/technique is to bring the party volume down by using a quieter constructed routine or game. Alternatively, turning off the microphone and talking in hushed tones towards the child. This is a great change in gear from the noise of the party and works well in your favour.
When playing games, I sometimes give the judging role over to the birthday child and even give them the microphone to talk into which eases them off their mum’s knee occasionally too.
Another technique is to use the shier child’s name in term so ‘Billy will love this trick’ but don’t draw any attention to them. With kids and adults in fact hardwired to react to their name being mentioned this encourages them to watch the show without being overpowering, or overbearing in their minds.
Whilst all of these techniques are useful and can work, they are certainly not magic bullets and should be used sparingly. What I would say having performed at hundreds of parties is that don’t be too concerned if the birthday child is not interacting and remains shy throughout the party – entertaining 30 other kids will be seen as a fantastic job well done, if done well. The birthday child may be poorly, had a bad night’s sleep, have some personal upsets in their lives, their best friend or nana not attended the party or any number of other reason. If you make an attempt to interact with the shy children and encourage them to join in, then I would not go any further. Being shy is a million times better than leaving a child in tears because you have been so demanding to egt them to join in. It has been on more than one occasion when their shyness has been noted by the mum and dad and they have spoken to me after the party and told me about some of the other issues which I may not have known about and sometimes email saying that they are just shy children in general and in the privacy of their own home, cannot stop talking about the party and how much fun they had at their party.
Certainly children display different signs as to whether they are enjoying something or not, and I suppose as adults we do the same, be it a big bellied laugh versus a giggle inside….. Both adults may experience the same fun and laughter but display it in two very different ways.
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