Everything Else

8 Things I’ve Learned From Working With Children

Life Chats (previously Small Business Sunday) is a weekly thing around here where I talk about random things related to being a music therapist, a small business owner, book blogger, and perpetually confused 20-something.

As a music therapist, I work a lot with a wide variety of ages and abilities. But I kind of fell into working with kids when I was starting my company, completely fell in love with it, and now am mostly specialized in early childhood. There’s just so much energy when it comes to kids and they’re always so curious and interested and enthusiastic.

I’ve learned that working with kids can teach you a lot. Some of these lessons are very useful, some are weird, and some are just important to remember so that you don’t lose your sanity in three year old land. And I thought that I’d share some of them with your for today.

1. Saying that you like everyone’s shirt is an important part of working with preschoolers.

You’re going to have to do it anyway, so if you just accept it, it’s a lot easier.

2. Kids have no filter for what they’ll tell you. You will hear all their family drama.

I know when parents divorce, when mom and dad are fighting, when someone has died, so on and so forth. And they will just drop these things on you at the most random moment, and you have to be prepared to deal with it and how they’re feeling about it.

3. Sitting still is not a thing for little kids.

You can’t just get kids to sit and listen for more than a couple minutes at a time. They need to move and wiggle and be able to do their thing. If you keep your energy high, they’ll listen better and be more involved than if you’re trying to get them to behave like little adults.

4. Learning to dodge sticky hands and booger-y faces is a very beneficial skill.

Kids are gross.

5. They totally know when you’re talking straight with them and when you’re coddling them, and they have a strong preference for the former.

Kids are pretty good at reading people, and if they think you’re treating them like they’re little or patronizing them, they’ll stop responding to you. I’ve learned that the easiest way to get kids to respect and listen to you is to talk to them the same as you would an adult,  just clean up your language.

6. Setting the rules and being consistent is key.

As much as they’ll try to resist it and fight against it, kids do best when they know what the rules are and what is going to come next. I’ve reduced the number of instances of one kid hitting another with instruments by over 80% in my preschool classes simply by consistently taking away instruments from any kid who hits another.

7. Asking children what they think coffee does is more fun than it should be.

“It keeps mommy from being a zombie.”

“Monsters drink coffee to stop being monsters.”

“My mom says that it’s sleep in a cup!”

8. Having to answer the constant ‘why…’ questions will cause you to question everything you once believed.

Until you’ve had to explain why fish don’t live on land and can’t just grow noses, and why people are mean on repeat for twenty minutes, you don’t realize how many things you don’t think to question now that you’re older.

There are probably more of these, but I got about 4.5 hours of sleep last night because of fire alarms, and I barely remember what children are. If you’ve got any you’d like to add, let me know in the comments below!

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