Home / OMS blog / The Do’s and Don’ts of Interacting with Children


By: Niki Anconetani (10/24/13)

The staff at OakHaven are constantly mindful about the way we interact with the children.  Below are a few general do’s and don’ts that we keep in mind as we communicate with genuine appreciation and respect for them.  This list isn’t all inclusive but it’s a good way to get your wheels turning and help you think of ways to improve your interactions with your children at home.



Pose questions

Give all the answers

Use the word “you” when you’re instructing a child to do something independently (e.g. Now you will wash your hands)

Use the word “we” when instructing a child to do something independently (e.g. Now we’ll wash our hands)

Refer to the students as “children”

Refer to the students as “kids”

Encourage the child to discover solutions

Solve problems

Empower by giving choices

Eliminate choices, corner the child or engage in power struggles

“Work with” rather than “for” the child—allow them to do it themselves

Create dependencies

Allow the child and direct her, when necessary, to find constructive work

Entertain the child

Touch in comfort

Touch uninvited

Be clear, direct, honest and straightforward by using statements rather than questions when you’re instructing a child to do something

Make statements into questions (e.g.; Can you get the broom? Instead of “Get the broom, please.”—questions imply to the child  that you’re allowing him/her to choose at a time that you are not)

Consistently model what you want the children to be doing

Have double standards (child must have snack at snack table but you can carry yours around the room)

Be consistent

Give mixed messages

Entice, seduce, invite, stimulate, guide the children into activity

Force or demand with ultimatums

Speak softly and gently

Raise your voice

Move slowly and gracefully

Make direct eye contact

Get on eye level with the child

Loom over the child


Pretend to listen

Use your peripheral vision to observe and interpret what children are doing

– Interrupt–especially before you’ve truly observed the reality of what a child is doing (e.g; Does the child actually need you to insert yourself or should you allow them the opportunity to do it on their own?)

– Interrupt a child who is concentrating on constructive/positive activity

Allow plenty of time for the child to complete a task

Try to speed them up

Sit and observe from a position where you can see the whole room

Be a floor walker

Get rid of your personal baggage

Allow your emotions/personal baggage to dictate how you interact with the children

Some of my favorite resources for parents are:

www.michaelolaf.net (great articles and materials for the home), mariamontessori.com,  www.amiusa.org, and  the Lending Libray at OMS