First of all, hi! It has been quite some time since my last post and for that I am very sorry! Needless to say I have been crazy busy and adjusting to my new city, house, and schedule has kept me on my toes. BUT I think I am finally starting to (somewhat) get the hang of being constantly on the move, and I have to say, I like it!
Second of all, don’t freak out about the title! I am not going to preach about how to make your life purposeful…no, no. I mean how to have a purpose in your ACTIONS.
One of the (many) things I have learned over the course of my internship has been to always have a purpose. Child life is a strange and complex field, filled with fun, bubbles, and all sorts of awesomeness, BUT it isn’t all fun and games. As child life specialists, we should have a purpose for all of our actions with our patients and their families. What do I mean by that exactly?
If you do finger painting with a toddler, is it just for a messy, fun, distracting activity? Sure, because messy, fun, and distracting is a crazy good combination of things! But is finger painting ONLY those things? No! Providing an activity like finger painting to a toddler can also provide you with so much room for assessment! How?? Simple. Finger painting allows you to study a child’s fine motor skills – how well do they use their hands and fingers? On top of that, is there a certain colour they are drawn to (knowing a child’s favourite colour is important!), do they enjoy the feeling of the paint or do they seem withdrawn from the idea of touching it? When you start to focus more on these in depth areas of analysis, suddenly finger painting becomes this incredible tool that can be used to help you, as a health care professional, get to better know your patient!
Another great thing I have learned is to WAIT. And by WAIT, I mean – Why Am I Talking. This simple but crucial skill was taught to me by my internship supervisor the first time I met her and heard her speak at a child life symposium back in April of this year. When you are speaking with a patient and/or family, make sure to do more listening than speaking. When you do share something with them, make sure the information is useful and that what you’re saying actually has a purpose. Whether that is to educate, enlighten, support, encourage, or calm…always approach with a purpose.
I have come to learn how important it is to be purposeful in your words and your actions and I think it is a skill that anyone working with people (healthcare or otherwise) should have. So try it out – listen more than you speak and just W.A.I.T.