Children and bad behavior often fall hand in hand and, if you’re struggling to get the best out of your little superstars, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve put together a quick guide to getting kids to behave in front of a camera.
Pay attention to patterns in their energy levels
Children are unable to regulate their energy levels in the same way that adults can; have you noticed that one moment they could bouncing off the walls and the next they could be having a tantrum because they’re overtired?
Particularly with younger children, you have to be mindful of their energy levels if you want to get the best out of them on camera. If the child still has regular nap times, be aware that they shouldn’t be on camera during that period of the day or they may become irritable and more likely to misbehave.
We spoke to Filming With Kids who said: “The best way to accommodate for children’s fluctuating energy levels is to simply get to know each child before working with them. Pay attention to any patterns in their energy and adjust your shooting schedule accordingly.”
Hire a baby wrangler
Camera work often involves long days doing take after take to get the desired product which can be extremely tiring work, especially for children. Tired or bored children are much more likely to misbehave than those who are kept entertained and, for that reason, whether you’re working with one child or ten, it’s always a good idea to hire a baby wrangler.
‘Baby wranglers’ - otherwise referred to as ‘child wranglers’- can be endlessly beneficial when it comes to shooting with children. It’s their job to entertain children during the more boring times when they’re not shooting and to provoke the desired reactions out of them when they are.
Create a reward system
Using a reward system to encourage children to behave is an almost sure-fire method and that’s no different on set. Rewarding the child for their good behavior such as sitting still and being quiet when required will not only encourage them to keep up their good work, but it will also lift their spirits during the long day.
If you’re lacking some inspiration for a suitable reward system, check out this post on the jar and cotton ball method.
When working with a child - or, indeed, anyone - it’s your responsibility as photographer or director to keep them happy. This involves feeding them properly throughout the day and, with children, providing them with toys and games or a baby wrangler.
If you’re unsure about how to provide adequate food on set, check out this post for some pointers.