3 Life-Changing Things I’ve Learned from Working with Kids

Working with kids is a wonderful experience. Not only are children very entertaining, their behaviors also allow us to examine our own behaviors if we truly want to. Both of my jobs involve working with children. As a substitute teacher and a recreation assistant, I have learned many things from working and interacting with kids regularly. Here are the 3 most important things I have learned so far:

Apologize when you’re wrong (without trying to justify or explain)

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Children never want to get in trouble. If another child tells you they did something that hurt them, they will immediately come to their own defense with reasons why it was okay or how they didn’t mean to do it. We carry this habit way into our adulthood and become more focused on the “it was an accident!” part of the apology than the actual saying “sorry” part of the apology. I always tell my kids “just say sorry because even if you didn’t mean for that to happen, it happened” (within reason of course). Whether we intentionally hurt someone or not, our apologies should never been focused on what our intentions were. Instead, we should focus on just apologizing (if we are truly sorry).

 

Don’t hold grudges: forgive, forget, & move on

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Most of the time (especially with younger children) all it takes is receiving an apology for children to move on and continue playing with one another. Sometimes they even hug the person who says sorry and my heart melts because you can see the genuine forgiveness in their eyes. As adults, we struggle with this concept a bit more. We have a hard time with forgiveness and moving on. However, kids often don’t even require an apology to move on. When we get older we struggle with accepting apologies we receive and especially struggle with getting over things involving apologies we will never get. Even if we never receive the apology that we believe to be rightfully ours, we still can stand to learn from children…just get over it and move on! There are many times where we make things people do about us and hold onto that. What is the point? There isn’t one. It only does more harm to us than good to continue to be upset about something someone else did.

Be proud as hell about everything you do, no matter how small

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Anyone who has worked with children can tell you that they are proud as hell about every little thing they do. I used to teach a Messy Art class for pre-schoolers and these moments happened at least 5 times a day. Kids will scribble on a paper for all of 5 seconds, run up to you and shove it in your face and say, “look what I made!” bursting with pride. “Beautiful! What is it?” you will ask them because to you it just looks like scribbles. “A volcano!” they will say, as if they want to say “duh!” afterwards. “Oh! I see it! Good job!” and then you tell them to go draw another picture. A kid showing off their hard work and talent doesn’t stop at drawing pictures. Kids also think they are the highest jumpers, the best dancers, and the most talented person to ever do anything in life…and I think it’s awesome. At what age did we learn to undermine our own work and think “oh this isn’t that great?” “I can do better” “Hers/His is better than mine” and whatever other nonsense we tell ourselves when we do something. Enough! I saw that whenever we make something even if we plan on changing it later we should start off being as proud as a toddler in pre-school.

Children are the future of the world and I think we would all be much better off if we got in touch with our inner child. We just need to learn how to apologize when we’re wrong (without having to justify it to the other person), forgive people when they apologize (and even when they don’t), and have pride in everything we do, say, and create.

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