It’s a big misconception that if you are not a “kid person” you can’t learn to be. When I was younger, I never thought I'd be a kid person like I am today. Actually I was a little afraid of them, o.k, very afraid of them! Here's some things I have learned along the way.
Most of the people you know that seem like they have a “natural knack” with children usually have at least a handful of jokes or sayings that they always use to make children laugh. Although some people have a natural enthusiasm, making children laugh it is a skill that anyone can acquire.
1. Ask for a high five. Put your hand up and ask for a high five. When a child goes to hit it, move your hand and say “you missed! try again!” moving your hand higher. Then allow them to actually accomplish the task! This is always a classic game for kids.
2. Ask an age appropriate question. Ask child how old they are and when they answer say “5 years old?!” as if you can not believe it!! Kids get a kick out of it!
3. Show interest in what you think they may enjoy. If you are trying to talk to a child at an event, ask them what their favorite ___ is. Think about something related to the event you’re attending such as, “What is your favorite sport?” if you’re at an athletic game or “What is your favorite thing about being a big sister?” if you’re at a family picnic.
4. Avoid open ended questions. Sometimes it’s good to provide a few choices, such as “Is gym class better than art class or the other way around?”
5. Keep it positive. If the child seems unhappy about something, you may want to try distracting them instead of discussing the problem. Usually, the problem is something they can easily forget about.
6. Identify with them. If the child seems a little shy, you might try saying, “are you feeling a little shy? I get shy sometimes too!”
Children are simple beings and actually pretty easy to talk to. Keep questions and conversations simple and fun to gain a rapport or even just to have a little small talk. Don’t be intimidated! Most of the people you know that seem like they have a “natural knack” with children have at least a handful of jokes or sayings that they always use to make children laugh and guess what, they learned them from someone else! Although some people have a natural enthusiasm, making children laugh it is a skill that anyone can acquire. Children are not from mars, they just see things in a simpler way than we do! Also, it takes practice to learn how to talk to kids. If you bomb a few times, that’s o.k but don’t be afraid to try again!