Survival skills for professional child care workers
1. A well developed sense of self awareness
Evaluation of your own quirks and personal styles will provide some insight into the climate of your unit. Child care workers live in a world of false cues: children will frequently tell you what they perceive you want to know; child care workers will hear what they want to hear.
2. The ability to manage you work and your
Feeling as though you are juggling 25 ping-pong balls at once will wear you down. Decide which ones to drop. Set your priorities to accomplish what you do best — this will give you a sense of achievement, which will encourage you to develop yourself in the areas that do not come so easily — that require persistence and perseverance.
3. Time for activities that make for a sound
and well rounded life
This makes you more valuable and interesting to the children and the team. Plan for a variety of personal, educational, cultural and recreational experiences.
4. Interpersonal sensitivity
Listen to others. Listen to both verbal and non-verbal cues — both from staff colleagues and from children. Sense the ‘vibes’. Focus carefully on the total person communicating with you.
5. Enhancing the self-esteem of others
Make sure to encourage and compliment others — both staff colleagues and children — on their efforts. This will take away unhealthy competition and lessen your own self-absorption.
6. The courage to take risks
Always maintain a healthy curiosity — and the ability to think creatively. Risk looking ridiculous! Learn the joy of a lively mind and playfulness (creativity and play are the same thing) in your setting.
7. The ability to use and ‘grow’ from
Relax! You will mess up somewhere. Just learn what you can from your mistakes — and try to avoid making the same mistakes next time! Ask for specific help and support when you need it; don’t be above asking for advice or back-up. Analyse immediately why something failed, and use your findings to inform future decisions.
8. An experiential attitude
Be optimistic. ‘Let’s try’ and ‘Let’s see what we learn from this’ should be heard often in your unit.
9. ‘Problems are for solving’
Learn to view problems as opportunities, as chances for you to sharpen your creative thinking skills. All problems have solutions — some solutions are simply more or less effective than others.
10. Tolerance for sustained work
Child care is seldom an eight-hour day. If that is your expectation, have another look at the work you have chosen.
11. A sense of calling or mission
There is meaning and special fulfilment to work that involves personal commitment.
12. Dealing with insecurities
If an individual really makes you feel insecure or anxious, get to know that person better. Brief yourself more carefully before you jump into difficult situations. Try to understand why you feel anxious.
13. Working out how to work with your boss
Your boss directly influences your career and your success within the organisation. Understand your boss is a person with even more responsibility and pressure than you have. Keep your boss well informed — never let him/her get a surprise about your work.
14. Keeping up with trends
Understand your society and its trends. Understand current thinking in child and youth care theory and practice. Try to know what is happening in the world, with families, children, writing, culture, politics ...
This feature: Mitchell, Kathy. (1995). Survival skills for professional child care workers. The Child Care Worker, 13, 2. p. 9.