How to Politely Tell a Parent to BUZZ OFF!

Screaming KidNothing irks me more than a parent forcing a screaming child to get painted or when you are trying to paint a child and really give them a special experience, and the parent insists you give them pricing.

I was raised with a lot of manners and I live by the principle treat people as you wish to be treated. Sometimes parents push you to a cliff where you want to remind them that their annoying behavior carries over to their kids and then we all suffer.
I’ll never forget a party I was hired to do. The family rented the entire Chuckie Cheese restaurant on a Saturday. The manager told me they charged $25,000 just to rent the facility and close it to the public for the three hours. The party planner made custom t-shirts, had goody bags at every place setting, and there were over 75 seats set for children and another 75 for adults. There was face painting, balloons, a caricature artist, and even an ice sculpture with the little boys name on it. This was a PaRtY! When I first arrived the little birthday boy said, “I didn’t hire a stupid face painter”. By the way, he was turning 5. I politely told him that I wasn’t a stupid painter, I was the best painter in the world and that I could paint him like Spiderman. He didn’t seem impressed.

Then I had the pleasure of meeting his parents and at that point I realized kids aren’t the A-holes, it’s their parents that make them that way. Long story short, the parents were terrible. Only seven kids showed up to the party. Based on the turnout of guests, it was clear that the birthday family were not people you want to spend your weekend with.

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The parents hired me and I was being paid for a service of face painting, and I wasn’t paid extra to be disrespected or belittled. Should I have walked out? Should I have made a rude comment to the birthday child? My best advice to get pushy parents on your side is to kill them with kindness. Losing your cool, fighting with your customers, and being mean to kids is highly unprofessional.

When a parent hounds me to give them a price or pushes their child to the front of the line, I always smile my brightest and say just give me a few minutes to finish this face and then I can take care of you. When they insist on me giving them a price, I tell them I will send them a special email with pricing as soon as I get home. When a parent holds their child in a vice grip to get face painted… I tell the parent, “The guest in my chair decides what type of face paint they want, and I don’t know how to paint a ‘No, I don’t want my face painted'”.

A good way to deal with parents is to build up several good funny lines that you can say when they treat you unfavorably. Practice those lines with a smile on your face so that you don’t jeopardize future bookings.

Choose your words wisely and don’t hold the actions of a pushy parent against their child. Remember, a child is impressionable and you can be the example they can learn from.

Happy painting

6 thoughts

  1. Heather: One of my most memorable moments was when a father had his son in a headlock and was marching him up to my table to be painted. Obviously the child wanted nothing to do with face painting, so after explaining to the Dad that my face paints would be unsuccessfully applied to a crying child with a sopping wet face I offered to paint him instead. He didn’t want to be painted either – go figure. Funny thing was, one of the other dads who was watching the whole episode offered to put him in a headlock while I painted him. Needless to say, that was a priceless moment!

    1. I don’t get it with some of these parents who want to insist that their child be painted when the child clearly is not into it and has no desire whatsoever. I wonder if it’s because they never got to as a child and THEY would have wanted it, therefore, their child should want it too? It’s really made me admire the few parents whom I see who really seem to be in tune with their little ones and won’t try to push them when they can clearly see the child has no interest. That is just so much nicer on everyone involved. Sometimes with the really little ones who are putting up a fight, yet I see the parent is no where near that ‘giving up point’, I have to nip it in the bud and say: “Sorry, looks like it’s not going to happen this time— but let’s try again next year!” They seem to accept that.

  2. Money doesn’t buy happiness or – apparently – friends! šŸ˜€

    Re painting: I tell parents “I can only paint people who really want to be painted.” Then I’ll say to the child “Maybe we should paint a little thing on (parent’s) hand so you can see how it works, and then you can decide.” They might be up for that and often when they’ve seen the process, they want to go for it. While I’m painting I’ll explain the developmental level of the child (for instance, I’ll paint a mark on my own hand, smear it, paint another mark on my hand, and let a baby smear it to see what happens). They learn a lot, very quickly. – “See, if you touch it, it goes bybye!”

    I show the child the soft brushes and ask the parent “Does that hurt?” “No.” “Does it tickle?” “a little.” “It’s supposed to – more fun that way!”
    I don’t paint faces on children younger than 1.

    As for quotes, I just smile and say “Pricing depends on several factors, I can barely put a sentence together when I’m painting, it’s a right-brain thing. There’s my card, please feel free to call or email me when you get home today, or put your name on my email list. I book 4 to 6 weeks in advance.”

  3. Twice now at parties held by a particular community of people (I live in a very multiple-cultural area)’ I’ve had moms literally pin their little ones, like 2 year olds, and hold their faces still while the child cried…saying, “it’s ok, just do it, just do it.”. I really need to just say no but it’s tough when they are the ones who hired you. Ugh. I think I’ll add it to my contract that I will not paint a crying child….unfortunately, the guests won’t see the contract…anyone have it on a sign? But I don’t put up signs at bday parties…sigh.

  4. I volunteer my face painting skills at the local children’s museum. There are a few others there I have inspired to help. It’s always very fun. One of the actual employees was painting away (all the other face painters were done). Her boss kept saying “you need to quit, you need to stop” bugging her by law she had to take a break, and he was right. So finally, the last little person in line got their face painted. She stood up and started to clean. A women with her child said ” my child wants her face painted.” The girl said she had to be finished because her boss had instructed her to finish that last face and take her 30 min break.” The woman look at her and yelled ” YOU ARE A RACIST!”

    The boss stood there, saying nothing while the girl sadly sat down and painted the young child while the mother said “That’s what I thought.” I was not at that table, but I if I were, I would have asked the woman to leave, but not before telling her child that hateful comments her mother makes in public will not get her anywhere in life. I also probably would not have painted to child. Does the child suffer..? Well, yeah she doesn’t get her face painted, and that’s sad. But giving in to hate speech would hurt that child even more, because she would think she could use hurtful words to get her way….just like mommy.

Leave a Reply