What to do When You Encounter Someone Who Has a Fear of Mascots
Thousands of businesses have increased their brand awareness, and sales, by aligning their company with an appealing mascot. For example, who hasn’t heard of Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger, or Mickey Mouse?
Mascots are widely used as teaching aids for children. Children generally connect to animal mascots, and have been known to respond to them, even when serious subjects are being discussed. One school, for instance, used a yellow bird to teach children about the dangers of radiation. Mascots are also used for entertainment, relaxation and distractions at public events, sporting events, carnivals and parades. Children grew up with mascots, Cookie Monster and Big Bird on Sesame Street. So, what do you do when you encounter someone who has a fear of mascots? Here are some tips:
This is a term describing fear of anyone wearing a mask or a costume. This condition is relatively normal for small children, as they are still at a stage where they are unable to distinguish reality from fiction. Adult sized costumed mascots can produce intense fear, insecurity and panic in some children. Most children outgrow this fear, but for some, the anxiety symptoms grow worse and occur every time the child is within sight of a mascot.
Keep a Safe Distance
Some children may feel more comfortable if mascots stay a safe distance away. Mascots should closely observe, and use sensitivity, when a child or an adult is visibly upset by their presence. From a safe distance, fearful children can watch the mascot interact, play, dance, or have their photograph taken with other children and adults. Waving, blowing kisses, or other ways of communicating from a distance may make the person feel more at ease. Always wait for the child to approach you, and not the other way around.
Approach Parents First
Many mascots approach parents first, as they don’t know how the child will react. However, mascots should be aware that some parents push their children too fast and too soon toward huge costumed characters, amplifying the child’s terror. If the parents are positive and friendly, mascots can respond by shaking their hands, or hugging them and then gesturing gently toward the child. If the child still appears anxious, the mascot can also try acting afraid or focus on the next person. If the child appears to be receptive, the mascot can hold out a hand for a high five, handshake or simple touch. Try holding your arms out slowly for a hug and see if the child responds positively.
Get Down to Child’s Level
Children continuously have to look up at adults, and mascots can appear particularly gigantic and scary. When mascots squat down to the child’s level, children are put more at ease.
Simple gestures, such as a pat on the hand, may make a world of difference to the child. If the child is receptive, then try a gentle pat on the head or ask for a hug. This can ease children into engaging with you and let their anxiety subside.
No Unmasking in Public
Mascots need to be in full costume and act the part whenever the public can observe them. However, breaks are highly recommended every 30 minutes to give performers a chance to rest. It is important that children are not able to see a mascot unmasking. This only serves to compromise the integrity of the character, ruin the illusion and possibly confuse or frighten a child even further.
Mascots have been shown to considerably improve brand communication with children and adults. Considering a mascot for your marketing campaign? For custom made mascot costumes and design, contact the professionals at Hogtown Mascots.