Boogers, Bubbles, and Zits … Therapy with Kids is Great
Kids have no judgments. Kids are not afraid to tell it like it is. One time I was testing a 7-year-old boy and he told me he couldn’t concentrate because I had a booger in my nose. I thanked him for telling me and promptly blew my nose. We then moved on with the testing like nothing had happened. No big deal, just a booger or two. Another time I was working on anger management skills with a 5-year-old girl and out of nowhere she asked me, “Hey, is that a zit on your check?” I replied by saying, “Yep, it is. Sometimes people have zits.” She didn’t question me further and we went back to drawing her “anger thermometer.” Kids tell it like it is not because they’re attempting to be rude, but because they’re curious.
Kids are fun. Therapy with kids involves many props because play can often act as the agent of change in the therapeutic process. So I get to have a lot of fun playing with kids and kids’ toys. When kids get to use other people’s toys, they get super excited and it’s truly a joy to share in their excitement. We blow bubbles together to work on how to calm down and breathe. We draw pictures of superheroes and talk about their strengths. Kids are silly. I once shared a whole lot of laughs with a 6-year-old who thought it would be fun to play catch with our eyes closed while trying to count backwards from 100. Kids laugh at the smallest, simplest of things and that laugher is contagious.
Kids are incredibly inaccurate when it comes to guessing someone’s age. A 12-year-old boy and I were having a discussion about age and how old some of the people in his life were (such as his parents, his grandfather, and his teacher). He then asked me, “So how old are you, like 19?” This made my day! I corrected him (I’m 34) but continued to smile about it for the rest of the day.
Kids are innocent. Kids have a certain sense of innocence that allows me to really hear what they’re saying without getting defensive. One day I was leading a self-esteem group for teen girls. The topic of conversation was what the color of your hair says about you. The girls were arguing that certain hair colors, such as blue or purple, were linked to courageousness and risk taking. One of the girls pointed at me and called me out by stating, “Now you, you have safe hair.” If an adult had said this to me, my gut reaction would have been to defend my very safe, very conservative brown hair. Instead, I told this 16-year-old she was right. My hair is safe. Learning to be non-defensive is a great skill.
Kids are bad at being passive aggressive. When kids are angry or upset, they tend to show it. In my experience, there’s much less beating around the bush to figure out what’s wrong as compared to adults. Therapy can be a place for heated, dramatic, and emotional situations. One time I instructed a mom to take away her 15-year-old’s phone for the day until she’d completed her homework. This girl immediately lost it, yelling at me “Who do you think you are? You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re such a bitch!” Then she slammed the door in my face. Did I know she was angry? Yep, obviously. And yet, things worked out okay. We talked about it and worked through the change (yes, her mom did start withholding her phone). At the end of the day, our relationship was stronger. And there was no beating around the bush.
Kids are hilarious. Kids say the funniest things. I once had a 14-year-old who experienced a lot of anxiety during school. We were talking about a safe place he could go to use some of the coping skills we were working on. He kept on referencing that he could go sit on the “doogie shoot.” The whole time I was thinking, “A doogie shoot? What IS that? Should I know what that is?” It wasn’t until the end of the session that I learned the “doogie shoot” is the toilet. Another time, a 6-year-old girl and I were talking about how it may be helpful for her to share her feelings with her mom; that way her mom would not have to make guesses about her emotions. The girl said to me, “Well, I did tell my mom how I feel about you. I told her you had a good look. That’s how I feel.”
Kids give the best compliments without even knowing it. I recently had an 11-year old girl who was describing how she knew she needed to come back to therapy. She talked about wanting to argue less with her mom and control her angry words. She told me she missed therapy and was ready to use skills we had previously talked about. In the midst of her explanation, she exclaimed, “It’s just that therapy with you is like being in a room full of puppies.” It melted my heart.
So there you have it. The reasons I love kids. What have your kids done that makes you love them even more? Share your comments below.