Last week I had the privilege of speaking at career day at my daughter’s school. I got to talk with her classmates about what it was like to be a child psychologist. Then I answered their questions about my career and my life. And believe me, they had a lot of questions! Some of them made me laugh, but most of them made me stop and think. About what? About how being a mom is A LOT like being a child psychologist!
“So, is being a child psychologist like being a magician with tricks to help kids with their problems?”
Kind of! But I like to think of it as being like a carpenter with a tool belt. In that tool belt there are lots of different tools that you use depending on what type of problem you need to solve. As a child psychologist, I know what treatment or techniques to use depending on what the problem is. Sometimes I don’t know all the answers, but I try to make sure my tool belt is full of lots of good tools so that I can try a few if I need to!
That’s just like being a mom. As long as we moms have a tool belt full of resources, ideas, techniques, and a few tricks, we can work to solve about any problem that comes our way. We might not always have the right answer, but if our tool belt is full, we can eventually figure out what works for our particular situation.
“Did you have to take puppet classes in college to be a child psychologist?”
I do use a lot of puppets, games, and fun activities when working with kids. What kid would want to come to a child psychologist who was BORING? I have to sit on the floor. I have to play. I have to get creative. And guess what, there were no classes in college to teach me that.
What about moms? Did we get a mom class in college to teach us how to play with our kids? Not that I ever heard of. We’ve got to learn that with practice and experience. We’ve got to be open to just sitting on the floor and playing with our kids at their level, with the things they enjoy. No college class for that, I’m afraid!
“What’s the weirdest problem a client has ever had?”
They asked me this question over and over. They were dying to know what I had to say about it. But I wouldn’t answer them. I had told them about confidentiality and about how psychologists don’t share secrets. I certainly wasn’t going to start in front of one hundred fifth graders! What I said though is what I truly believe. None of the issues that I see with kids (or adults) are weird to me. That’s just not the right word. Every person is different and each one has their own set of issues. Not weird, just different from one person to the next.
Moms, you know all about this one! Every one of our kids is different. Mine are not the same as yours. My picky eater is not any more “weird” than your drama queen. Just different from each other. And that’s okay. We want our children to be different. Embrace whatever issues they have (good and bad) and help them when they need it. That’s what being a mom and a child psychologist is all about.