LESSON 2:  Interacting with Children

Many of our patrons at Spark Central are school age children and youth. Because they are at a younger stage of development than our adult patrons, it is important that we are especially mindful about how we interact with them. Here are some tips for building creative confidence, problem-solving skills, and personal empowerment among the younger patrons of Spark Central!


General principles

BEHAVIOR-SPECIFIC FEEDBACK

Here’s where I write about the point.

PERSONAL AUTONOMY

explanation

When dealing with behavior

unconditional positive regard

This point was introduced in the previous section, and it is worth stating again. The most important thing to remember when interacting with children, especially in moments of conflict or inappropriate behavior, is to affirm that their value is independent from their behavior. Whether they make mistakes or misbehave, they are still welcome and wanted at Spark Central, and we strive to communicate this consistently.

Grounding

This is how children come back to the present moment and calm down

Structure

Children’s minds often become disorganized when they are upset. Providing them with some structure can reorient their sense of expectations and help them move forward from the situation.

Examples of this include:

  • Giving them concrete options.


Other points to note

It is NEVER okay to deny a child food or drink as punishment, especially because there may be children at Spark who don’t have a stable supply of food at home. Food is a source of nutrition and energy and therefore should be treated as such. Withholding food from a child communicates that their basic needs are met on a conditional basis. We INSTEAD want to return to unconditional positive regard, communicating that they are valuable and deserve important resources (like food) regardless of their behavior.

Don’t hesitate to take breaks if you are feeling emotionally stretched! It is better to step aside for a few minutes to regain some energy than to push yourself too far and lose patience with a child as a result.