Working with children is a responsible job, seeing as how you are supposed to guide them through the most delicate period of their life. This means that they will see you as a role model (among other things) and subconsciously try to imitate your stance and behavior, as well as adhere to your every word. Of course, this is not always so transparent and sometimes their behavior may be the exact opposite of what you stand for. This alone makes it clear that, in order to be a social worker, you need to know not just what to say but how to act around children as well. Here are some skills that every children’s social worker should have.
1. Active listening
When you are a child, it seems as if everyone else is there solely for the purpose of bossing you around. In a child’s mind, adults who are self-obsessed usually do not fare that well. Just because you have responsibilities and problems of an adult person doesn’t mean that the kid in question doesn’t have anything interesting or important to say. Furthermore, those who believe they can just doze off in the middle of the kid’s speech and just respond automatically at the end are gravely mistaken. Kids recognize this kind of behavior in an instant, which is why you need to master the art of active listening and contributing to the conversation.
A person who expects a child to act as an adult may easily be disappointed or even enraged by their failure to do so, which is quite ridiculous actually. Still, a lot of people lack the basic sense of empathy that would allow them to imagine themselves in the other person’s shoes or even remember what they were like at that age. Keep in mind that there is a fine line between being tolerant and letting them walk over you, but even though you should never be a pushover when dealing with children, you simply need to know when you just shouldn’t be upset.
3. Knowing how to relax
Another thing that a child notices early on is that the adults often seem somehow tense and anxious. Whenever a non-tense and relaxed adult shows up, children immediately feel drawn to them. Unfortunately, children’s social work is a stressful job, which makes relaxing much more difficult. The inability to do so will not only make it harder for children to trust you but also make you much less efficient in your work. Because of this, you need to find your exhaust vent and get a hobby that will help you blow off some steam so that you can come in each day with your batteries fully charged.
4. Be a grown-up
Without a doubt, a lot of guides will advise you to adopt some child-like qualities in order to bond with children. While this is a solid idea, remember that you still need to be a functioning adult in order to become a role model. The secret to getting their respect lies in knowing things they don’t and doing things they aren’t capable of. Every skill you possess works in your favor. For instance, provided that you are from NSW, enrolling on a first aid course in Sydney so that you can treat minor cuts and scrapes will make you an equivalent of a heart surgeon in their eyes.
The above-listed four skills are merely the tip of the iceberg of all the traits you should possess in order to be a good children’s social worker. Nonetheless, there is one particular trait that towers above them all – loving your job. It goes without saying that being a children’s social worker is one of the noblest professions out there. After all, what greater act of altruism is there than being there for children in need?