It’s Showtime! 10 Theater Etiquette Tips for Kids and Families

What to consider before you buy those tickets


Published:

Photo courtesy Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock.com

Ever been stuck on a flight next to a crying baby? This is also a fear of many theatergoers. More than a few dozen times in my career as an actor, technician and performing arts critic I’ve asked myself, “If the kid is screaming, why won’t her parents take her out?”

In my years as a special education teacher, I’ve wished more parents would explicitly teach their child theater etiquette before spending $250 on tickets. Etiquette is a learned behavior. If kids need to learn it, parents have to teach it.

Not every kid is the same. Age, life experience, developmental stages, disability and temperament must all be considered before deciding what kind of performance is appropriate for your family to attend. Here are 10 tips to consider before buying those tickets.

1. Know your kid. Does he wander while watching TV or he is glued to his tablet during a movie? Does she take lots of bathroom breaks or seem anxious in large crowds? Does your child even want to go to the show? If you can’t afford a sitter for a child who isn’t ready to sit through a theatrical performance, you can’t afford to see the show.

2. Choose the right show. If you wouldn’t take your child to an R-rated movie, don’t take him to an R-rated play. Not every musical is kid-friendly — even if it features puppets. Play to your child’s interests and research the performance extensively. If I want to see “The Phantom of the Opera” but my child is only 4 years old, I’m calling a sitter because it’s too long, too loud, too complex and too scary for a child that age.

3. Sit strategically. Think you might need to make a quick escape with your child(ren)? Choose an aisle seat near the back of the theater. Don’t trap yourself. Think ahead when choosing tickets for shows that require assigned seating.

4. Rehearse. Practice sitting still with your child for entire TV shows. Practice having quiet feet and staying off smartphones or tablets for a 90-minute movie. Sit through something boring with your child. Test your child’s ability to sit for long periods by attending a children’s theater show or church play before committing to a three-hour musical or dialogue-heavy work.

5. Be prepared. Have you used fidget toys or snacks to prevent interruptions during theater performances? Comfortable clothes for your child also help. If your child has a tantrum in the car, you might need to wait in the lobby until she is calm and ready to go in. Get there early so you can ease into the space. Rushing causes stress. If you’ll require a sign language interpreter, call ahead to confirm that this service is available at the theater.

6. Respect the space. Treat the theater as though you’re in someone’s house and you and your child are guests. Clean up messes, prevent your child from kicking other people’s seats, and remind your child to say “please” and “thank you” at the concession stand.

7. Hold all questions. If your child has an interesting observation or comment, or wants to ask a clarifying question, prepare him to hold that thought until intermission or during the walk back to the car.

8. Know when to leave. If you can hear your kid becoming fussy during the show, so can everybody else (including the actors on stage). This is not a teachable moment. You have to get out of there — especially if your child is crying, whining or, worse, screaming. Just take her out. Do not wait.

9. Preteach and debrief. Build anticipation for the show and discuss the expectations. If something you expect to see during the show might be confusing or upsetting to your child, talk about it beforehand. Afterward, revisit the topics you discussed. How did it go? What did your child think of the show? Engagement leads to enjoyment, which increases the positivity and pleasure of going to the theater.

10. Set a good example. Be prompt and enthusiastic. Don’t talk during the show, don’t check your phone and resist the temptation to get up for another glass of wine.


You have paid for your tickets, and so has everybody else. Follow these steps and you’ll all have a grand time at the theater.


 

Dustin K. Britt holds an M.A. in special education from East Carolina University. In addition to classroom teaching, he is the performing arts editor for Chatham Life & Style and his writing has been featured in IndyWeek and Triangle Arts & Entertainment.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

IKEA Not Coming to Cary Towne Center

The company has scrapped plans to build a second North Carolina store in Cary. The only store in the state is located in Charlotte.

Cool Summer Fun Out of the Hot Sun

Here are 14 ways to chill during the Triangle's warmer months.

Memorial Day Weekend Fun: Enjoy a Baseball Tournament, an Art Festival, a Fencing Class and More

This weekend, take in a baseball game in Holly Springs, enjoy an immersive art experience in Raleigh, try out fencing in Durham and more.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

Enjoy an Art Market with more than 170 visual arts and crafts exhibitors from across North Carolina and the nation; Kidsplosure, showcasing multiple interactive educational...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Fayetteville St.
, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Andia's Homemade Ice Cream and its owners Andia and George Xouris offer a day of family fun to thank patrons for their unwavering support since the shop's opening in July...

Cost: Free

Where:
Andia's Homemade Ice Cream
10120 Green Level Church Rd.
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Website »

More information

Get in the driver's seat with a free hands-on experience with vehicles of all kinds.  We will have local representatives and their vehicles from emergency, construction, landscaping,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Park
2200 Laura Duncan Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Town of Apex
Telephone: 919-249-3507
Contact Name: Allie Prelaske
Website »

More information

It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Want to do more to help out your community park? Do you like history, the environment, agriculture, and/or the arts? Consider volunteering at Yates Mill! Join us anytime during the program time to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Carolina Ballet presents the beautiful fairytale featuring stunning visuals and musical compositions. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


Website »

More information

Take the family to play bingo and enjoy prizes. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a Zumba Kids class as a fundraiser for the future Carolina Children's Museum in southwest Wake County area. Enjoy movement, music, instruments and fun...

Cost: $10

Where:
Devils Ridge Golf Club (Homestead Room)
5107 Linksland Drive
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Children's Museum
Website »

More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Emma Katz, the toughest Viking in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, who goes on a quest to save her town -- and herself. Purchase...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Children with special needs and their families enjoy an afternoon of boating. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111595.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children with special needs and their families enjoy an afternoon of boating. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111595.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Take a closer look at bees and their relationship with flowers. Discuss bee conservation, the wide range of bee species, and the differences between them. Learn how to make your yard or garden...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Children with special needs and their families enjoy an afternoon of boating. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111595.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Weekly basic skills cooking class offered for children ages 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets at the cafe each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the Turtle – and play...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Learn all about frogs and toads while investigating real live tadpoles. Ages 3-5 with adult. Register online at http://apm.activecommunities.com/wakeparks/Activity_Search/2711.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Join us at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro every Thursday at 10 a.m. for a casual storytime on the porch or even out in the yard. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
Website »

More information

Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219869.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn parenting strategies to help a child with special needs. Register online. Choose course #111592.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Decorate a walking stick to use on your nature hikes. Repurpose some invasive bamboo canes to paint and wrap with string. The result will be a personalized walking stick perfect for using to...

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
Telephone: (919) 870-2871
Contact Name: Nikki Jones
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the gardens to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Dress for the weather. Ages 3-5 with...

Cost: Free for Arboretum Family members, $5.00 per child for nonmembers.

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Campus Box 7212
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

Bats are the world's only flying mammals, and having wings is only one of the adaptations that make them unique. Discover just how special bats are during this evening program.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Learn what geocaching is all about and find a geocache in the park. Take your own unit or smart phone with a geocache app or borrow one from the park. Ages 6 and older. Meet at the Cypress...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Ratty, Badger, and Mr. Toad love spending leisurely summer days going boating. Folks coming to Yates Mill did, too! One never knows what sorts of adventures a simple day on the water can bring....

Cost: $2.00 per person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

The VFW Post 7383 honors veterans by handing out Buddy Poppies, the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, answering questions and providing other information, in front of...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Ride on a diesel-powered train and enjoy festivities in the rail yard. Enjoy a beach-themed cookout complete with grilled shrimp, chicken, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and non-alcoholic tropical...

Cost: $12/adult, $10 ages 2-12. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Rd.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn how salamanders compare with their reptile cousins. Ages 5 and older. Register online at http://apm.activecommunities.com/wakeparks/Activity_Search/2724.

Cost: $1/participant

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Join a nature instructor to look for signs of deer like antler rubbings, tracks and scat.  Decorate deer tracks to take home and play fun games to learn more about these magnificent mammals....

Cost: $6/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: Durant Nature Preserve
Telephone: 919-870-2871
Contact Name: Nikki Jones
Website »

More information

Enjoy an old-fashioned Memorial Day event on the lawn of the historic house that includes  barbecue (chicken or pork) and fixins, old-school relay games, prizes and fun. Tickets must...

Cost: $20-$25.

Where:
CocoFARM
960 Luther Rd.
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: CocoFARM
Telephone: 919-985-1865
Contact Name: Corrie Burton
Website »

More information

Children in grades K-5 enjoy an art-filled afternoon. Materials provided. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Eva Perry Regional Library
2100 Shepherd's Vineyard Dr.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: $10.00 per boat

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Celebrate the season opener by enjoying live music under the pines. Purchase tickets online. Kids 12 and under are admitted free on the lawn.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.