Interacting with the Kids
This is a really important thing to keep in mind. Remember that this is not an elementary or junior high school visit. Unfortunately, the children in orphanages have had pretty tough lives and this can affect their behaviour. They may be slow to trust your volunteers and open up, but just be patient and keep up with the visits so that they can get used to you and soon they will come to associate these crazy visitors with a really fun afternoon!
Once they become more relaxed, many will become very affectionate and tactile – don’t be surprised if the children love to sit in your lap or hold your hand.
Some children may get angry quickly – don’t panic. Just be patient and stay calm. Remember that you are not there to discipline the kids in any way; it is best to leave that to the people who work at the home and are experienced with the appropriate ways to handle these situations.
The best way to make sure that everyone has a good time is to keep everything voluntary. Encourage kids to participate, but don’t force them – allow them to come and go as they please. This means that kids who aren’t comfortable or who get really stressed can leave whenever they like.
So just remember to be patient and don’t give up if the kids seem a little shy or awkward for the first couple of visits. Once they get used to the idea of you coming, they’ll open up, and that’s one of the most rewarding parts of the Smile Kids Japan project.