Child’s Play

The Rewards of Working With Children

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Child’s Play

Sarah Haylow, Writer

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Working with children is incredibly rewarding and one of the best things you can do. I have had the pleasure of working with many amazing young people, and I would not trade those experiences for the world. You can learn a lot from working with children and the experience can be life-changing.

 

Part of the beauty of working with children is that the younger the age group you are working with, the purer they are. You get to witness a person at their most vulnerable and their most authentic self because they have no basis of what is right and what is wrong. This reason is why I love working with young children and why I think working with kids is one of the best things you can do period. 

 

The age range of kids that I enjoy working with is any child between the ages of zero and seven. This is when you get to see them grow the most in their motor, speech, and critical thinking skills. This period of extreme growth and learning makes for a fun and interactive environment and endless entertainment. It is a time in a child’s life where they are constantly learning and discovering what it is like to be alive and to be a kid. Teaching or introducing a kid to something new often feels as life-changing to you as it does to them and it is a great feeling. I was once comforting an upset child and twisted my tongue in an attempt to make him laugh. He immediately went completely quiet and stared at me with a completely flabbergasted expression. It was then that I realized that he had probably never seen someone do that before and that I was the first to introduce him to that. I continued by making a bubble in my mouth and “popping” it, which was quickly followed up by shrieking laughter and joy. Teaching a child something that they have never known is so much fun and the feeling it leaves you is remarkable.

 

Kids are also great in that they have no sense of how cruel the world can truly be. The biggest thing on their minds is when they are getting their next snack and where their favorite toy is being hidden in the room. All they want to do is play and watching them do so is fascinating. I’ve worked with multiple kids all at once, so watching the dynamic between them is both interesting and chaotic. I feel like I’m watching a nature documentary when I observe children playing. More often than not there is an alpha, a kid who is the top dog and who decides how everyone else in the room feels. We have the backup leaders, the ones who are always near the leader and who help them cause their reign of terror. If the group dynamic is good then there is no omega, but there is occasionally one kid who always gets picked on more than the others. There are the loners, which was what I was when I was their age. They are the kids who are not necessarily unfriendly, but they just prefer to play by themselves. Finally, there is everyone else in between. These kids get along with most everyone and can be hit or miss behavior-wise.

 

Working with kids is not everyone’s cup of tea and I can completely understand why. Kids are loud, argumentative, and they have no filter. Working with them can be extremely stressful and sometimes you just want to lock yourself in a closet for a while to take a breather. I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives however, which makes it easy for me to look past and deal with whatever unexpected problem a child might present. The feeling of knowing that you have the power to make a child’s day bright is enough to keep me volunteering for the children’s ministry at my church or for accepting babysitting offers from my cousins. The look on their faces when you make them happy and the sound of their laughter is something that is worth more than anything. Their tendency to rebel is the only tough part, but if you earn their respect and you make them feel understood, I find that meltdowns become easier to deal with.

 

Being responsible for someone so vulnerable can be an intimidating and daunting task and many people think that taking the time to foster and cultivate a trusting relationship with a child can be difficult and not worth it. Children are unpredictable and sensitive and can feel like a ticking time bomb, but we were all children once. I think the knowledge of knowing that I am caring for and respecting someone so young is rewarding in that I am being for someone what another person was for me. I am someone who is cool, fun, and trustworthy. I like and hope to be that for the kids I work with and that’s why I think putting in the work is worth it in the end because you ultimately get to do for others what you’ve always wanted for yourself.

 

Knowing you have the power to be a positive influence on a child is the coolest feeling and kids are always a lot smarter, funnier, and more engaging than we give them credit for. I always feel like I get to be a kid again when I’m invited to play hide-and-seek or a game of cars, and it reminds me of what it was like to be so young. I’ve learned a lot of skills through babysitting and volunteering, like patience, compassion, calmness, and how to change diapers. A lot of diapers. Working with tiny humans is incredibly rewarding and I always want to continue being a positive influence for young minds.