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What It’s Like to Work with Children

What It’s Like to Work with Children main image

By Alexandra Jane

If you’ve ever worked in a school, summer school, children’s club or any other environment involving children there are . Kids can be difficult and they will challenge you, but working with them can also be hugely rewarding. If you’re yet to unleash your inner child in a work environment with kids, here are a few things you ought to know before facing a roomful of seven-year-olds. 

Children change their mind...a lot

One minute they may be adamantly refusing to dress up and the next moment they’ll be bawling for their mermaid outfit. Which ice cream would they like? Definitely not the one they picked 60 seconds ago. Children change their mind quickly and easy, swapping to each new exciting stimulus that crosses their path, but that’s OK. Indecision is something we’re told is a great flaw as adults, but it’s a good thing for children to be excited by a host of things, so for this.

Timing is not something they’re aware of yet

“Are we there yet?” is one of the best-known quotes repeatedly attributed to children in films and on TV for a good reason. It’s a widely accepted fact that children have no sense of time, so don’t expect them (especially those under 10) to be able to anticipate timings and work to a schedule without lots of reminders.

They ask a lot of questions

If a child keeps asking “why?” there is nothing you can do but grit your teeth and explain the situation to them as fully as you can. While we’ve definitely all snapped back “because it is” on the odd occasion, inquisitiveness is a sign of intelligence in a child, and the more they learn the more they will develop. Even if they do drive you loopy in the process.

They’re very good at twisting the truth

While the majority of children understand they ought not to lie, there is no one better at than a child who wants something.  When working with children they will often omit to mention their parents have imposed a rule or forbidden a certain thing, and you may have to deal with the consequences when this rule is violated.  

They run off a lot, and think they’re more independent than they are

As soon as a child believes themselves to be older or more responsible than other children, they will take their independence into their own hands. While in some ways it’s a great thing that they will try to run before they can walk, this means you need to be constantly watching them, and prepared to catch them when they fall. If a 12-year-old tells you they’re responsible and independent, take this with a pinch of salt.

They really want to please

A key underlying motivation behind a child acting up and demanding attention is their ingrained desire to please. Praise them when they’ve worked hard and ensure you give credit where credit is due to nurture this quality.

To them, it’s a world of heroes and villains

Children often view the world , and can find it hard to visualize the grey area between this. If you look at Disney films and children’s books you’ll see this pattern of good vanquishing bad clearly reflected. This can make resolving arguments difficult, requiring prolonged explanations about why neither party is good or bad, and both sides are partly responsible. 

They’re trusting and impressionable

Especially before the age of about 13, children are incredibly impressionable, and will try to shape themselves to impress you and other figures of authority. This makes it imperative that you set a good example. While being strict may feel hard at times, it will shape a child as they grow and help them develop strong morals and values.

Kids can be difficult, stroppy and indecisive – but they’re also wonderful, impressionable children who have a strong desire to please and want to learn more about the world. When working with kids you must treat your position of responsibility seriously, but don’t worry: your inner child can still come out to have fun.

Alexandra Jane is the writer and editor of graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency. Check out their website to see which  and  are currently available, as well as their page for further opportunities.

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