Thursday, 28 February 2013

Being Present

Just under two years ago I told a four year old girl in my kinder room that I was going back to the staffroom to do some paperwork. She started chanting,

"Bye beautiful singing Penny,
Ponytail wearing Penny,
Always smiling Penny,"

It was the 'always smiling' bit that stuck in my mind. While for months I had been staring down at my heart broken in pieces on the floor, these beautiful children had been looking up and seeing me smiling down at them. That's something that I have to be proud of now. When I'm on the job the children and their needs are all that matters. I've learned to be in the moment with them and that's why they love me so much.

Everyone wants to be seen. Everyone wants to feel that they matter. Nobody wants to feel that when they talk to you your attention is elsewhere. I strongly believe that this is the foundation for managing almost any situation while working with children or people of any age. Children will let you know when they're not happy. I had one of my toddlers from last year bite one of my new babies because she felt that she'd been replaced. A toddler scratched my face a couple of days ago because I was talking to another adult rather than paying him attention. Older children will react by being clingy or behaving in oppositional ways.

It's not always easy to have time to spend with every child in a large group or to give them your full attention while you're supervising chaos, but it's something to aim for. It's certainly something I'm going to be more aware of in the future. If you gain children's trust they will respond positively to you. If they respond positively to you their parents will trust you. If the parents trust you your employers are more likely to trust you. If you can get to know and appreciate the special qualities of all the children in your care you are well on your way to helping them to reach their potential. You will also feel happy knowing that what you're doing is making a valuable contribution to children's lives and happiness.

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