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Lessons I Learned From Working With Kids

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I have never considered myself someone who enjoys spending time with children. Sure, I think kids can be cute, but if I’m being honest, the majority of the time they are anything but cute. The idea of kids throwing tantrums, picking their noses in public, rambling on about stories that don’t make sense—none of that is appealing to me. So naturally, I decided to work as a camp counselor this summer. As someone who went into this job most definitely not a kids person—and honestly, I am still not one—I learned a lot from my experience surrounded by 10-12 year olds (the sassiest age group) for 40 hours a week, 8 weeks throughout the summer. Before getting into what specifically I gained from this experience, I do want to make it clear that this summer allowed me to form connections with some wonderful people (yes, some of them were kids!); for those experiences that were slightly less than wonderful, I was able to grow in the way I handle myself in unpleasant interactions. Below is a list of my takeaways from a summer with children (as someone who has never regularly interacted with kids before).

  • You don’t have to be perfect at something—or even good at it, for that matter—to enjoy yourself.

From playing referee in countless camp games this summer, I can say with confidence that enjoying the process of the game rather than focusing on the desired outcome will always lead to a more enjoyable experience. In broader terms, when the pressure is lifted from achieving perfection, the steps along the way become a lot more fun. I think this notion can and should be applied to the pursuit of achieving any goal.

  • Your mindset when approaching a task largely impacts the outcome.

Similar to the previous point, having the mindset that an upcoming task will be enjoyable or beneficial almost always ensures that it will be. Dwelling on the doubts of not knowing the outcome guarantees unnecessary worry.

  • Celebrating others makes it easier to celebrate yourself.

It feels so good to celebrate others and their accomplishments!! Celebrate your friends and celebrate others when they do particularly well. Acknowledging when others do well makes it all the more rewarding when celebrating your own achievements—which is equally important and something we should all do more of.

  • Sometimes the truth is more beneficial than what you want to hear.

Anyone who has ever held a conversation with a child for longer than five minutes knows kids are brutally honest. When surrounded by children all day, bitingly truthful comments are inevitable, so why not take them for what they are. I think a lot of us could do with an honest opinion free of any sugar-coating here and there.

  • Respect is gained where respect is given.

Not much explanation is necessary here. Respect should always be the baseline when meeting someone new, regardless of any position of authority or presupposed “superiority”.

  • A deep breath and a 5 minute break is never a bad idea.

In work and in life, no one can be expected to handle every situation well. Posing a polite and reasonable request met with a raging “NO!” can be all too infuriating, but reciprocating this frustration rarely resolves the issue at hand. Allow yourself to step aside, give yourself and others a chance to breathe and recenter, then proceed when it feels appropriate. Be gentle with yourself when situations become more difficult than you feel they should be.

Alina Castaldy is a member of the class of 2024 at Colby College, majoring in English and considering studying French as well. She loves to create and learn through reading, writing, and dancing. A fun fact about her is that she will never turn down the opportunity to catch a sunrise!
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