I spent this last week being an intern for an acting company that put on a summer theatre camp for kids. It was a really great experience, but it definitely taught me a little about keeping my cool.
Of all the jobs that I do, all of them include children. Between my job working at my local children’s museum, being a regular babysitter, and working at various children camps, I spend 75% of my life around kids. And usually I enjoy every minute of it. However, working with 40 children mostly by myself, it really did test all of my child knowledge. And how well I can keep my temper.
Teaching children between the ages of 7 and 15 how to act can be a difficult process. Especially if you have to teach them a play in only 4 days. Being an intern meant that I had to the kids in check, help them learn lines, be their friend when they get overwhelmed, and be every other possible person the teachers or campers could need. Between Monday and Thursday, doing all of that was pretty simple. I didn’t have any problems with being angry and all the kids were pretty great. However, on Friday and Saturday, the days where everyone was high tension as we put the finishing touches on the final show, it was really hard to not just throw a tantrum.
The hardest was when we had the final performance and 40 kids, plus myself, were stuck in a very tiny room where we were not allowed to make any noise so that the people in the audience could not hear us. Young children do not know how to be quiet for an hour. So, I had to keep myself in check while I had 40 kids trying to talk to their best friend, trying to occupy themselves, trying to use the restroom every 5 minutes. It drove me insane. But I used these tips to not lose my col on these sweet, innocent, slightly loud children.
Tips to Keep Cool Around Children
Politely ask them to do what you need them to do. Don’t say, “I want…”. Say, “You need to be quiet because you need to support the other kids on stage,” or whatever else you need. Children will feel a need to do what they can to be helpful and it will lead to you not losing your head.
Breathe. Whenever you find yourself flustered from questions, breathe and it will help you take a minute to have them breathe, and with all the breathing, all the confusion will melt away and your brain can think clearly again.
Have rules, but keep them cool. Don’t be a drill sergeant and yell out rules to the kids. They have no fun and you feel angry. Not a good combo. If you calmly attract their attention and, in a polite voice that oozes sweetness, tell them rules. And don’t say, “You have to do this or I will kill you.” Say, “You need to do this so that everything can go well. We need to work together to succeed.” Kids want to succeed in everything, so tell them how they can succeed and they will try their best to do so.
And that was what I did, and my kids were awesome about it! They were never too loud, we didn’t have any complaints, and the show was a success! I was so proud of the kids that worked so hard all week, and to see all their hard work come together, it makes your heart really well up with happiness!
The best part of the night definitely came after the show. Everyone was grabbing their things and going with their parents home. As they walked by the stage to the door, I had so many kids come up and give me hugs and those are the moments where my job is totally worth it. People ask me why I spend so much time around kids, and this is it! I love that feeling of appreciation and the feeling of being a role model. I felt so great about myself and those kids that nothing could bring me back down to earth. Later after the show, my dad took me out to ice cream to celebrate my week of hard work. As I stood in line at DQ, lots of my kids (who were also celebrating with ice cream) came up and gave me more hugs and wanted me to sit with them. If you’d asked me Monday morning if I thought that would have happened, I would have said no. But by turning my job as an intern into being a friend and a buddy and a person who can help them succeed in front of their friends and family, I gained the love of some really great kids who I hope grow up knowing that they can do a lot in a week, I have lots of faith in them.
So, that’s my semi-sentimental/semi-how-to post. Since I didn’t post this week due to my busy intern schedule, I wanted to include my insane week in one post. I hope you all enjoyed it and understand a little more about working with children.
Have a great Sunday!