Friday Mornings Customer Service Caffeine: Working with Children

This morning I thought I would throw out a few quick tricks on how to offer great customer service to our younger patrons.

  • When talking to children get down on a knee or sit in a chair to talk to them at their level.
  • Give them a chance to behave. If you have talked to them once and you hear them trying to follow your instructions by saying things like, “Shhh, she told us to keep our voices down” or  “Guys we need to walk”.   Behaving in a library is a learned behavior and if they get yelled at when they are trying to behave… they may not try again.
  • Consider developmental milestones when talking to children.  For example, babies are learning to verbalize, this can often sound like loud because they are trying to talk and make sounds like the adults in their lives.  Asking a vocalizing child to lower the sound of their voice will not really do much, except embarrass or anger their parent.
  • Give a parent a break, if they are trying to soothe their crying child, only approach if you think you can be helpful. Telling them their child is being loud or inappropriate just embarrasses them and if they are trying to get a coat on or  trying to calm a child only makes their day harder if you inform them their child needs to quiet down.
  • When you need to correct a child explain to them why you are asking them to modify their behaviors. Listen to them and answer any questions they have about why you are asking for a change. Remember to look for “Yes.. And” options.
  • If a child has been a problem in the past give them a clean slate each day and when you catch them behaving, praise their good behavior.
  • Learn their names and treat them with respect, they will remember that and be more likely to treat you with respect in return.
  • Spend as much time praising kids who have good behavior as talking to those who are misbehaving.
  • Be consistent, children notice if you treat one group differently than another. If you ask children to lower their voices then be sure to ask the loud parents in the corner to lower theirs as well.

And remember the children we have today are the Teens, Adults and Seniors that we will have in the future.  A good experience when they are young can help insure they are users for their whole lives.