*This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase I may receive a commission at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.
Last Updated on by Noni May
Working with children can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. But what most people don’t realize is that it also offers decent career opportunities. The more you can hone your skills working with kids, the better off you’ll be in the long-run.
Looking after children teaches you a variety of skills that can help you build a strong and successful career. It might not seem like it when they’re screaming or running around uncontrollably. But over time, you develop talents that other people simply don’t have.
Here are some of the practical skills that could help you in your career.
Everyone should have highly developed first aid skills, but relatively few people do. Most have no idea how to administer CPR. And very few people know how to deal with somebody who is choking, despite the ever-present risk.
When you look after kids, though, it is essential you develop these skills. No matter what happens, you need to be in a position to offer help immediately to avoid disaster.
Most employers will naturally choose people with a first-aid background over those who don’t have one. So if you’re planning on going into a career that involves children, this should be one of the first things you tick off your list.
While there’s a bit of natural variation, healthy children go through the development process in sequence. First comes crawling, then comes babbling and then comes higher-order skills, like empathy. Parents can often tell if there’s something wrong with their child’s development, but spotting problems early is a real challenge.
That’s where professional nanny skills come in handy. People who work with children should have a good working knowledge of when they should reach particular developmental milestones. It should be immediately obvious if a child falls behind their peers, allowing you to alert the parents.
Parents might not want to hear there’s a problem. But it is better to get to the bottom of these things early, rather than leave them to play out by themselves. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Children who lose their hearing, for instance, can struggle to develop linguistic skills. Sorting the problem out while they’re young can reverse the problem, but only if you catch it early. If they remain unable to hear, it can lead to problems with speech and comprehension lasting for years.
Believe it or not, the ability to entertain kids is a highly marketable skill. Very few people can effectively improvise and hold children’s attention. It is incredibly difficult.
Schools and parents, however, expect it. And so if you want to get a job working with kids, it’s something you need to be able to do.
Start off becoming a master of reading. Kids love stories. So if you can engagingly tell them, they’ll sit and provide you with their undivided attention for hours and hours.
You can also teach them the delight of singing. Don’t worry – most kids are too young to tell that you have a terrible singing voice.
People who are great with kids are also adept at finding ways to entertain them using available resources. Things like coming up with new games to play outdoors or riddles in the car keeps their minds fizzing with interest.
Don’t underplay this ability. Very few people can successfully hold children’s attention for an extended period. If you can, sell it.
Nobody wants to be a disciplinarian. We’d all prefer to let kids get on with their lives unhassled. Unfortunately, children don’t develop the ability to regulate their behavior until their brains mature – usually around age 25. And even then, people can continue misbehaving.
Disciplining children isn’t about punishing them for being bad people. The goal should be to help them better regulate their own behavior, so the same transgressions don’t happen again.
Part of the process is to coax them onto your side. If you can align kids with your standards, you’ll have a much easier job.
Knowing how to pitch discipline is an art. Sometimes a child will make a mistake, in which case a quick response can put them back on the straight and narrow. Other times, kids will go out of their way to cause mayhem. That’s a fire that is more difficult to extinguish.
Young children will often experience tantrums if they feel like they’re not getting their way. They’re so extreme most adults don’t know how to deal with them.
One of the best ways is to learn the art of distraction. If a kid is acting out, you don’t pander to them. Instead, you try to divert their attention away from themselves and back to the outside world.
Tantrums also allow you to become more sensitive to the emotional states of others. The more you can figure people out, the better off you’ll be.
Another thing you learn is how to anticipate situations that will lead to tantrums. If you know that a particular child doesn’t like to go to the doctors, you can build up to it.
People don’t start in life fully-formed. Instead, they build themselves over time. Some people reach their full potential while others don’t.
As somebody who looks after children, your job is to provide the optimal encouragement to get kids to develop their talents. The type of tactics you use depends very much on the personality. You can motivate some kids by merely telling them why certain things need to be done. With others, it’s a matter of building trust or leading by example. Deploying all of these tactics will prove to parents that you have the skills to bring out the best in their children, ultimately what they pay you to do.
Working with children can enable you to have a very lucrative career. Develop the right skills, and you can march ahead of the competition. Ideally, you want to lead by example, adopt smart discipline, and keep their minds engaged.