*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.
Working with children is something that many of us consider when looking for a career, whether we are fresh out of school or looking for a change in later life. A job working with children can be fulfilling; you might get to spend your days shaping the lives of the future. You’ll go home from every shift, knowing that your time has been spent in a worthwhile way. Working with children is fun, and it’s certainly never boring. Careers with children often appeal to parents or those that want children one day.
But, working with children isn’t easy. As much as it might be fun and fulfilling, it can also be frustrating, annoying and stressful. Some days will be upsetting, and you might see children dealing with health issues and emotional distress, that makes it hard for you to switch off at the end of the day. So, before you apply for a teachers course or start looking for nanny jobs, you need to ask yourself if you could cope with working with children.
Working with children requires different skills, depending on where you are working, the nature of your role and the age of the children that you are working with. But, if there’s one skill that you will always need, no matter what, it’s patience. Children don’t always do what they are told, or what we want them too. They don’t always understand instructions the first time. Or even the fifth time. Things don’t always click, and even the brightest child can struggle with some simple tasks until they do. To work with children, you need to be patient.
Can you stay calm when there’s a room filled with people asking different questions and making various demands on your time? Can you keep calm when you are under pressure, or when everything is going wrong? Could you keep your temper, if you found out that someone has hurt a child in your care? Could you keep your emotions in check if a child in your care was struggling? To work with kids, you need to be able to stay calm in all situations. You must be able to hide upset, anger, and frustration, whatever is going on.
Communicating with a child isn’t the same as communicating with an adult. You shouldn’t speak with a toddler the same as you speak with a teenager either. To work with children you must have excellent communication skills, and you must be able to adapt your style to suit the child that you are speaking with.
Kids respond to enthusiastic adults. There’s a reason that most children’s TV presenters are jolly and cheerful. This kind of persona can capture and hold a child’s attention. It can inspire trust and loyalty. If you are enthusiastic and able to fake it when your mood is low, or if you are tired, you could get great results working with children and young people. Building excellent relationships and becoming someone that they can both rely on and confide in.