Small children - walking to 5 yrs old - can be particularly challenging to direct as you mothers know! I do love little kids but we have to be prepared for the difficulties we may face.
First, the parent is my number one aid. You know best how to coax your child and make then laugh and have fun. Every child is different - you know what works so be ready to bring whatever magic you have.
What toys make your child happiest?
What time of day is best? Did they get their nap in?
What clothes will not get easily messed up in case they decide to run and fall and roll?
Is there a friend who they might enjoy having there?
Would additional props help? Balloons, bubbles, toys, food, etc.
Should we meet at a fun park or some other kid friendly area that they will have plenty of fun with. Water fun always works? I have a long lens that I can zoom in and get photos with and stay dry.
Be prepared to bribe the kids that are old enough to be bribe-able! :-)
When you do try to get their attention, please try to stand behind the camera if at all possible.
If you children are small and hesitant or shy around strangers, it may be a good ideal if I come out half an hour to an hour early and have time to relax and play with them so they get comfortable with me. A child who screams at me being near them or is even just super shy is very difficult to get good pictures of! I will often try to bring an assistant who is there to help me and part of that is helping with kids. However, their capabilities in doing so are not magical.
That said, I will try to work as quickly as possible and do my best to capture your child. However, when it gets right down to it, what I am best at is photography and that always needs to remain my principal focus. Bottomline, I need your help as much as possible to make magic.
PS: Much of this does not apply to newborns. What we basically want with them is for them to sleep. There are other techniques that people use in this area and it involves a few different variables that we can go into directly.