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Keeping kids healthy with a well-child face painting policy

In the blustery cold months, face painters pull out wintery designs out as children jostle in lines, waiting for their moment in the chair when a skilled artist will give them an artistic transformation with face paint, glitter, and gems. But to make the painting experience one the kids (and their parents) won't later regret, most face painters implement a strict well-child policy.

Not only do painters want to avoid spreading illnesses which are more prevalent in the winter months, but they also want to avoid contaminating their costly professional paints. While brushes and sponges are easily washed, paints are not. The best line of defense for a face painter and her clients is to paint only healthy children.

Tips for parents:

  • Be informed. While most face painters have signs up alerting parents that they will not paint sick children, not all do. Even if you don't see a sign, understand most face painters will refuse to paint a child who is exhibiting symptoms. To avoid disappointment after waiting in line, explain to your child why he or she can't participate at this time if he or she is fighting sickness.
  • Be understanding. If you missed the sign or didn't realize there was a well-child policy, please be a good sport about it. The painter isn't trying to exclude your child from the fun. She's trying to make sure it's a great experience for everyone, and her care in keeping her materials free of germs will benefit your child someday, too.
  • Be honest about your child's health. Keep face painting for a time when your child is well and won't spread illness. Don't think it doesn't matter because it's "just" a cold. If a child has exhibited any of these symptoms within the past 24 hours, he or she should not join the face painting line: fever, cold symptoms, runny nose, vomiting, conjunctivitis (pink eye), ring worm, head lice, skin rash, eczema, open sores, severe sun burn, productive cough, chicken pox, any contagious condition.

Tips for painters:

  • Post a well-child policy sign at events. A sign will educate parents about your policy and help keep anyone who is sick from a long and unprofitable wait in line.
  • Be aware of the children in your line. Listen to them as well as look at them before they get in the chair. Do you see signs of illness? Do they seem to be healthy? Are they coughing or sneezing a lot?
  • Ask questions. If you're uncertain about the health of the child, ask the child and the parent. Often a parent will answer honestly although she might not think to offer the information if she missed your well-child policy.
  • Clean your brushes, sponges, and everything washable in your kit with warm soapy water between events. Throw out used paper towels after each event and wash your chair cover and table cloth.
  • Keep hand sanitizer at your table and use it between children.
  • Offer to "glitterize" kids who couldn't be painted. There's not much that is worse than the disappointment on a child's face when she's waited in line but can't be painted. In lieu of painting, ask the child to tilt her head back and close her eyes while you sprinkle some glitter on her face. Since you don't actually touch the child with brushes or paints, this is a good option to salvage the situation.
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