Taking Kids to the Show: How To Master the Magic

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Almost everyone loves watching a new movie in the theater or heading to see a performance on stage. It’s thrilling and makes you feel as though you’re part of the action!

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Even little ones can enjoy the excitement and taking kids to the show is an exciting milestone!

Whether you are wanting to take your little one to the movie theater or an amazing broadway style shows at Disney World, the question remains: how do you get them to pay attention. Or better yet, how do you keep kids in their seats to watch a show or a movie? Or even better, how do you make taking kids to the show a success?

It’s a million dollar question, that’s for sure!

After a few bumpy experiences, our oldest son successfully take our own kid to the show. Both at a movie theater and for a broadway style show at Disney World. A lot of prep work and a lot of flexibility helped us make it through the show, making the outing a success. 

Learn our favorite tips to share on how to successfully take your kid to the show!

Pick a Kid Friendly Show for the First Time Show

While it might not be your first choice of show, you know you’re going to have better luck with something that is kid friendly. This also might be a no brainer, but it’s worth saying in order to set yourself up for success.

If you see a show you’d like, but are questioning whether it is a good one, wait a few weeks after the initial opening. Then, complete a simple google search regarding movie reviews. You can usually piece together if the show is going to be appropriate for your little one based on the reviews. A great place to start is RottenTomatoes.com.

Additionally, if you’re looking to see specific Disney reviews be sure to check out these blogs that often do reviews of movies.

  • Tales of One Mom’s Mess website right here.
  • Life with Tanay’s website right here.
  • No Guilt Fangirl has great reviews here.
  • The Creative Stay at Home Mom has lots of great insight here.
  • The Momma Diaries website hosts lots of reviews found here. 
  • A Mother’s Random Thoughts has reviews and fun movie related things as well!
  • Footprints in Pixie Dust has awesome reviews as well found right here

The more reviews you can read the better idea you can get of whether or not a movie is going to go be a good fit!

Go Early in the Day with Little Ones to Their First Show

It’s no secrets that littles are usually ‘fresher’ in the morning. They’ve just come off of a full night of sleep and are ready to seize the day!

As you inch closer to lunch time or the crazy hour before dinner (the bewitching hour as it is known in our house!), things start to get a little nutso. Meltdowns are more prevalent, ‘no’ is everyone’s favorite word and all of a sudden no one’s ears work.

Sounds like the perfect time to have your little one sit down to watch a show, not move and behave.

Right?? Probably not…

You know your kiddo best, but odds are the earlier you can squeeze a show in the better. Take a few days to assess when your kiddo is the happiest and plan the show for that time, just to stack the odds a little in your favor!

Bonus: The earlier you go, the less crowded the theater tends to be. You’ll have your pick of seats and you’ll feel less anxious about ruining the show for everyone.

Keep Little Bellies Full and Bring Lots of Snacks

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No ‘hangry’ littles during the show! 

Make sure your little one eats a full meal before the show and bring lots of snacks (if allowed) to munch on during the performance. If you know for certain snacks are not allowed, be sure to give an extra snack before heading to the performance. 

Keep your belly full too! Or at least make sure you’ve had enough coffee before you head to the show. You don’t want to be hangry either!!

Head to the Bathroom Before the Show Starts

Head to the bathroom right before the show starts, especially if this is the first time you’re taking your kid to the show. Explain to your little one that if they have to go to the bathroom during the show, they will miss part of it. Unlike at home, the movie on the big screen, or the show on the stage, won’t stop if they need to go to the bathroom.

Older children will understand this concept better than a younger child, but it’s worth spending some time educating your little one on. 

Do Heavy Work Before Right Before You Go

Kids like to move. We think we can all agree on that!

Whether it is running across the yard or jumping up and down as many times as possible in one minute, they NEVER STOP MOVING.

And that’s okay!!

Kids are meant to move. It is how they learn to explore their bodies and helps them to figure out what they are capable of. That is why play time is so important.

Movement is exactly how kids learn new skills and what they are meant to do! It’s their job!

Expecting kiddos to sit for a show is really a big request. They are meant to be moving objects. Moving objects don’t like to stop MOVING.

Knowing that, don’t give up all hope completely on being able to have your kiddo sit through or watch a show. Instead, plan ahead!

Plan to do lots (and lots) of movement before taking your kid to the show for the first time. Running, lifting, jumping, and so forth are great activities to complete before a show. Anything movement that feels like ‘heavy work’. Heavy work helps to calm and center your little one, allowing them to focus more on the task at hand.

What exactly is heavy work? Check out this post for more details for right here.

Movement Tools for Show Viewing

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If you know your little one needs a little more movement, beyond the movement given before the show, bring in a few more tools for success.

Fidgets are great for helping kiddos focus while sitting. Items such as the following pictured below are unassuming and won’t distract other show viewers. Stay away from anything that glows in the dark or makes a ton of noise.

A wiggle cushion might be the ticket to providing your little with even more movement while watching the show. Maybe bring out the cushion in a later part of the show so it has some novelty and your little will actually use it.

Be sure to practice with the cushion at home so it is not a completely new experience and becomes a distraction in itself.

Also, be sure to check with the movie theater as to whether or not you can bring the cushion in. If you explain the situation and the need for extra wiggles, you hopefully won’t have any issues.

Limit Additional Screen Time Before the Show

You might find it weird that I am discouraging screen time before heading off for…screen time (if you plan to see a movie!) Yes, a little odd, but there is a method to the madness.

Although fun, screen time can be disoriented to a kiddo. It involves a lot of sensory input (visually, auditorily) without much movement on the part of your kiddo. Remember how we suggested doing heavy work right before going to the movie? That heavy work helps to keep your kiddo calm when a bunch of sensory input comes streaming towards him or her from the show.

Limiting the screen time before you head to the show helps set you up for success.

Keep Your Kiddo Engaged

If you’re sitting in a movie theater, it probably isn’t the best plan to talk throughout the entire show. You want to help your kiddo learn proper theater etiquette.

Yet, moments come up where you might need to redirect their attention to the show. A quick whisper here and there in an effort to draw their attention forward might do the trick. To be extra considerate of others, sit in the way front (where others might not be sitting), in an effort to not disturb others.

Sit Close (If You Can)

Leading us into our next point…

Whether it is a broadway style show or a movie on the big screen, sitting close helps keep little ones stay engaged.

Sitting closer to the action removes a lot of distractions from in front of your kiddo’s face such as people, other kids, random backpacks…the list goes on and on…. Everything is new when you are taking kids to the show for the first time, the more distractions you can limit the better!

Many theaters are now allowing you to preselect your seats which helps with making sure you are close. This is especially true for a broadway style show, but movie theaters are doing so as well. 

If the plan is to see a Disney show at one of the Disney parks, try and line up early for the show. Or even better, get a Fastpass! Heading in first and being able to select a closer seat is a big benefit!

Additionally, at Disney World many of the shows are interactive, allowing your little one to play a special part in the show. Nothing is more engaging that being in the show itself. Try and sit close to the action for a better chance of being selected to be part of the magic.

Attend a Sensory Friendly Experience

A new, amazing movement towards inclusion of individuals of all abilities is the push for more sensory friendly experiences.

Specifically, in the movie industry, theaters are starting to offer sensory friendly movie going experiences. Sensory friendly experiences often include having the lights less dim and the noise level of the movie less intense. Guests are also often able to get up and move around during the movie as well.

While it might not translate exactly to the type of situation you find yourself in for other/all shows or movies, a sensory friendly movie experience is a great introduction to the big screen and productions. Especially if your little one does have the need to move about and has a difficult time with the environment of typical movies!

Specific information regarding the AMC movie theaters in Michigan providing this service can be found here. A quick google search and you’ll hopefully be able to find details on movie theaters offering the services in your town as well.

If there aren’t options available to you, ask! You might just start a movement that so many individuals would appreciate.

Be Flexible with Taking Kids to Their First Show

The most important thing to remember when heading to a show is to be FLEXIBLE.

Being inflexible is a recipe for a disaster. Even with all the prep work if things don’t go as planned (which can often be the case), you need to be ready to leave the theater if necessary. 

Meltdowns or screaming can be a sign that staying still and focusing on the show is just too much for your little to handle at this time. Aside from most likely making it tricky for other guests to enjoy the show.

Take a deep breath and remove yourself from the situation. Talk to your kiddo at an age appropriate level after you leave and discuss how the behavior wasn’t appropriate. Then brush it off and plan to try it again at a later date.

Sitting close to the exits helps with this a ton! (We would know!!)

Conclusion for Taking Kids to the Show

Lots of prep and lots of flexibility are the keys for taking kids to the show. Head in with an open mind and plan to enjoy the moments that go well!

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The very first show we attempted to take our little one to was the Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s an amazing show that is super interactive, but our little guy at the time just wasn’t feeling it. We were seated in the way back and spent most of our times walking up and down the steps. We didn’t get to see much of the show, but will stay that the music was on point!

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Afterwards we took a look at our ‘mistakes’ and figured out how to make experiencing shows with our littles a success. Hoping the above tips will help you to have a successful viewing as well! 

Have a wonderful time taking your kid to the show!

Do you have any tried and true tricks that have helped your little one have a successful first viewing? If so, leave a comment below so we can all help each other have a successful first time of taking kids to the show.

Be Sure to Follow-Me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest: @magicformiles

taking kids to the show, first time show, first time movie, first time show at disney, shows for toddlers

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