Emily has an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy and a BS in Human Development and Family Studies. She’s a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Play Therapist. She has a blog called Disciplined Children.
Emily is the author of a fantastic children’s book: Henry Knows Best!: A Story About Learning From Mistakes and Listening to Others. I read it and found important lessons and reminders for me as an adult.
In this episode, Emily tells her favorite mistake story about setting up a child care program that was intended to attend to mental health needs — but the phone rang off the hook with people wanting and needing typical day care services. Why did she close the door to that program and how did that open the door to other possibilities? How did Emily manage to keep this in the realm of a small mistake that wasn't catastrophically expensive?
We also talk about questions and topics including:
- Tell us what inspired you to write the book? Again, the title is Henry Knows Best!: A Story About Learning From Mistakes and Listening to Others
- Oppositional Defiance Disorder vs just liking to say no?
- How many kids are like Henry?
- The consequences of always knowing best – damaged relationships?
- Overconfidence vs. narcissism
- “If you think you need help, you probably need help…”
- Some of my previous guests have admitted that they didn’t listen to experts when they should have — that they knew best… Congressman Will Hurd and Jim McCann founder of 1-800-FLOWERS.
- You say “I’m not a perfect person… I make mistakes… I don’t expect perfection… that’s not reality” — how does admitting that help your clients and how does it help you work with clients?
- Does it help others open up to you?
- Having to live the values you’re stating about not being perfect…
- Being a play therapist
- On your blog, you write about games that can be used to help kids with ADHD develop their attention spans. Tell us about that…
- Tell us more about the podcast… “The Knowledgeable Parent Podcast.” (available now)
- A BONUS favorite mistake from Emily
Scroll down to find:
- Video of the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 1 77, Emily Learing, licensed marriage and family therapist, and author of the children's book. Henry Knows Best.
Emily Leering (8s):
I had specifically set this up for a certain population and that population was not the one who was reaching out to me.
Mark Graban (19s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast. You'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at MyFavoriteMistakePodcast.com for more information about Emily, her work, her book, and more. Look for links in the show notes, or go to markgraban.com/mistake177. As always. Thanks for listening.
Mark Graban (60s):
Well, hi everybody. Welcome to My Favorite Mistake. And joining me today is Emily Learing. She is a mental health professional based in South Dakota. Her practice is called Encompass Mental Health and the website is SiouxFallsCounseling.com. There'll be a link to that in the show notes. Emily has an MA in marriage and family therapy and a BS in human development and family studies. She's a licensed marriage and family therapist and a registered play therapist. She's the author of a fantastic children's book, which is actually how I found Emily. It is titled Henry Knows Best: a story about learning from mistakes and listening to others. So it's a children's book, but I think there's important lessons and reminders for me there as an adult.
Mark Graban (1m 44s):
So welcome to the podcast, Emily, how are you?
Emily Leering (1m 46s):
Great, thanks for having me.
Mark Graban (1m 49s):
I'm excited to, you know, to chat about the book and a little bit more about your work, but as we always do here, I'm curious, looking back to the different things you've done professionally, what would you say is your favorite mistake?
Emily Leering (2m 3s):
So My Favorite Mistake happened when I first branched out into my entrepreneurial journey, I decided to open a childcare program and I had people who were calling me, emailing me constantly trying to get their kids in, which sounds great when you open a business and a bunch of people are wanting to get in. It's a great thing. The issue was I had set it up with a specific goal in mind for who I wanted this childcare program to be for, cuz this was when I was a licensed mental health professional. It's not really typically common for licensed mental health professionals to run childcare programs. So I had specifically set this up for a certain population and that population was not the one who was reaching out to me.
Emily Leering (2m 45s):
So I was getting calls from all these people who wanted to get their kids in and they were not my ideal client. So I did end up closing that childcare program, but the reason it's My Favorite Mistake is it really opened the door for where I am now, professionally. I actually got connected with a professional in my community that asked me to be a keynote speaker at a conference for childcare professionals. And that kind of just started everything rolling for me to be where I am today, professionally.
Mark Graban (3m 13s):
So that, that closure of that program. And I'd like to go back and ask some questions about it. Yeah, definitely. It's like that decision to close it. Thankfully didn't turn you off from starting something new and trying again.
Emily Leering (3m 26s):
No, no, I've, I've definitely. And obviously with the Henry book too, but I, that practice I'm licensed mental health professional in South Dakota and the practice is my own. I, I started as a private practice after I closed the childcare program and have grown it into a group practice. So there's been a lot of different things. I've done entrepreneurial since then. It was just kind of a roadblock and okay, let's stop and think about what this decision was and what was good about it, but what direction do I wanna go now?
Mark Graban (3m 54s):
Yeah. And what was your original vision, you know, for the, the childcare for the day care? What, what types of, you know, or children with what types of needs were, were you really looking to, to bring in and, and why, tell us more about that vision. That's
Emily Leering (4m 11s):
Interesting. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So when I started working in the mental health field, I graduated from grad school. I got my first job and I was working with families who were involved with the child protection system. And so my job as a mental health professional was to make sure that we gave the family the resources and supports and helped the kid and the family out so that they would try to reach that ultimate goal of staying in their household. Some of them were not able to, some of them needed to go to foster care for safety or some needed to go to like specialized schools because the kids' behaviors were so significant or maybe like a day treatment program or a residential facility. So the reason that I got passionate about early childhood is because I would start by working with someone who's 14, 15, 16, and really our goal was let's just get this kiddo through high school.
Emily Leering (4m 59s):
Once they turned 18, then they can make their own choices, but we are just trying to help this family while this kid is in high school. And that just didn't feel good to me because I would sit down and I would talk with these families and I would say, okay, tell me about those first couple years. And we would find out from the childcare perspective, parents had to work. That was just a part of their, their livelihood. And they didn't have quality childcare that it was either affordable or that they even really knew about. So it might have been like Monday, the aunt watched and Tuesday mom was off and then Wednesday grandma watched and Thursday, the neighbor took care of the kiddo. So I became super passionate about infinite early childhood mental health to try to help support families in those moments. So it wasn't so much about necessarily wanting it to be those exact families, but basically families who have had, you know, generations of not having support as a parent.
Emily Leering (5m 49s):
And so that makes it challenging within that role to be able to parent your child. And it just, it does just keep getting passed off from gen generation to generation. So I wanted it to be more than just a childcare program. It was a place where kids would be able to come and get quality care, but also that I'd be like a mentor to these parents who didn't really have those resources and supports in their community or within their family. And like little events, like let's have like a donuts with dad where we come in and we kind of have the kids eat with dad and, and just kind of help to build those connections and muffins with moms and things like that, where we can have moms and dads be together with their kids. And we can kind of show them how to connect with them and how to respond to things like, you know, temper tantrums and defiance and things like that.
Emily Leering (6m 31s):
So it was really about wanting certain families who were really in need of it. And that just was not who was coming, was able to come.
Mark Graban (6m 40s):
Yeah. Well it sounds like just, you know, putting up that sign or website or listing there was, there was such demand, such need for childcare. They were calling you as well as calling others, just trying to, trying to find a place.
Emily Leering (6m 55s):
Yes. And they were hearing through the grapevine. Emily is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She's a registered play therapist. She's a master's degree who doesn't want that for their kid. Of course, people want the most educated individual plus they were hearing about me from other people who knew me from other professional work that I had done. And so there were saying, oh, how great would that be if I could get my kid in to be with her.
Mark Graban (7m 17s):
Okay. Yeah. So there was, there was the fact that it was daycare, plus your reputation and background and experience. And are, are there, are these kinda a similar profile of younger children that you're trying to help now in, in your practice?
Emily Leering (7m 32s):
You know, and I, I would say one of the things that I really learned from this is that like, at that time I was a young, young entrepreneur, you know, I had this idea kind of a rigid idea of where my professional goals were. Now. I am working with people across the spectrum. So I am working with individuals who have been involved with child protection and, and need that support. I'm also working with people, you know, parents, both parents have six figure incomes and are feeling stressed out about their kids and need that support. And so I, that is an area that I've learned since then. And I think that this helped me to grow, to understand that every parent is in need of help. It isn't just the parent who doesn't have that support.
Emily Leering (8m 14s):
And some people have the financial support, but they don't have the social support and vice versa. So that is definitely something that I've learned throughout this process, for sure.
Mark Graban (8m 24s):
Were, were there any other kinda key lessons learned from starting up a business? I'm sure. Going through and just getting things established, getting a building and a lease and hopefully you weren't trapped in that.
Emily Leering (8m 38s):
So I actually did fail my childcare. So that was, was in my home. Cause I'm, I'm very risk averse. So which an entrepreneur cannot be 100% risk averse of course. But I tried to, to limit my risk, the best that I can. So that was the easiest way to do it in my state because every state has different licensing requirements. And so if you wanna open up a daycare center, you have to meet in, in my city specifically, you have to meet a lot of requirements. So yeah, it would've required a lot of work and financial input on my end, which might have been enough to make me say, okay, I just have to let whoever wants to come be here at this point.
Mark Graban (9m 13s):
Well, yeah. Well, so I mean, you raise a good point. I mean, as much as we embrace, I, you know, I think I do. And within this podcast, learning from mistakes, it's better to learn from small mistakes instead of taking a big leap. So, I mean, I guess if things had gone the way you had wanted, you could have started off with that home based care and then maybe gone out to a separate facility, but it sounds like it made it easier for you to back away. It might have been a bigger mistake where you, where you would've felt trapped. Like exactly. I have this building, I hired people. I, well, I guess this is what I'm doing, but that's not, that's not what your passion was.
Emily Leering (9m 51s):
Mark Graban (9m 52s):
Yeah. Wow. Very interesting. And then as you, as you started a private practice, you know, just curious, you know, the bringing on others and turning into a group practice, if, if that, for some seems scary or risky where there's some things that you could do to help, you know, take some chances without taking really scary risks.
Emily Leering (10m 17s):
Yeah. It was, it was very scary at the beginning. That kind of the timeline was that my husband, who was also an entrepreneur, went through a phase where he had a choice of, do I continue moving forward with this business? Or do I do I say, you know what we're done? And do I join Emily? Because I was, I was in a spot where it was like, I can't handle all the calls that are coming in and there's insurance. And it's really, really complicated to, to follow up with insurance. That's why hospital systems have billing people and people who answer the phones and all of that. So my husband actually was who came on to help get me started, which was really scary at first because there was obviously a leg in when we could add people. We had to like work on all of this.
Emily Leering (10m 56s):
We had to get a space and we had to get everything set up. So there was a couple months, quite a few months like there, and also in a time that I found out I was pregnant with my second child. So it was really, really fun. It was a really great time. So yeah, there was a lot of fear during that time of what that would look like. And we tried to cut costs as much as we could cuz again, I'm, I'm very risk adverse. And so we try to do everything, everything as, as slim as possible. I did have the benefit of like the group practice evolved in the spring, early summer of 2019. So then a year later mental health needs skyrocketed.
Emily Leering (11m 37s):
So I honestly don't know what my group practice would look like if it had not been for a global pandemic and, and the change in telehealth and those types of things that made mental health more accessible because we, in 2019, we started with, I had two mental health professionals that were on my team and now two, in addition to me, and now there's seven in addition to me. So we've really grown quite quickly because of that.
Mark Graban (12m 6s):
Yeah. Well that's great. And it's, it's, it's good that you've able and grow something that's more aligned. It seems with your more specific purpose and passion,
Emily Leering (12m 18s):
You know, and I, I think too to myself because I've grown so much and I've learned that every parent does need help either way. I probably would've figured things out and been in line with my professional goals. I just had to kind of process through that and get there. One of the things that I did learn at, you know, in, in the field of children's mental health, there is an unwritten rule that if you're not a parent, you don't truly understand what it's like. And so yes, you can be the expert on what this kid needs, but people don't really fully embrace that until you've become a parent yourself. I personally feel like the time I spent providing care to other people's children in my home has been the most important aspect of how I am as a therapist.
Emily Leering (13m 1s):
Like I understand parental mental health so much more because of that. And my own kids have contributed to that too. But I already had that before. Like that was the big change for me. And so that was an awesome experience for me too, to be able to have that and learn from that and adapt into who I am as a mental health professional.
Mark Graban (13m 20s):
Yeah. So, so Emily, wanna talk about the book again? The title is Henry Knows Best a story about learning for mistakes and listening to others. Like what I'm I'm guessing. So I wanna know what the inspiration was like. What was the spark I'm I'm I'm I'm guessing you don't have a son named Henry.
Emily Leering (13m 38s):
No. Have you looked in the back of the book?
Mark Graban (13m 41s):
I've read the book. I, I don't have it handy. Did I? You don't
Emily Leering (13m 43s):
Have handy? No. What did I miss in the, so Henry is my dog, so I actually have a strong-willed Corgie named Henry. Okay. And you know, the reason I came up with it is actually stronghold children come up a lot in my practice and I actually have a blog. I think you mentioned at the beginning, my Disciplined Children blog. And that is because I, in my, in my counseling practice, a bunch of people were saying, you know, I am doing all the things that they say I'm supposed to be doing all these parenting magazines. All these parenting articles say you do this, but my strong old kid is just not listening to that. That's not working. And we do find that children based on their personalities have different needs in terms of discipline and, and the way we respond to their behaviors.
Emily Leering (14m 31s):
So I started that blog for parents to just to give them some different guidance on how do you respond specifically to somebody who is strong-willed versus how you'd respond to somebody who's anxious or kind of a go with the flow, because those are very two very different children, which also we could definitely equate this to adults as well, their personalities and how we interact. So Henry kind of evolves from there that parents were saying, I'm trying to have these conversations with him. He's not listening. What do I do? And so I just wanted to give parents a tool to be able to talk about these topics without it having to be, you know, you are doing this wrong instead. It's helpful to say, oh, look what happened to Henry when he didn't listen to this person or that person look how it affected him, look how it affected others.
Mark Graban (15m 16s):
Yeah. When you talk about strong willed, there's a, there's a phrase that I've run across. I don't think it's been pointed at me, but there's this phrase that ever run across oppositional defiance disorder, if I'm remembering that, right. Yep.
Emily Leering (15m 33s):
Mark Graban (15m 33s):
So what, what, what is the difference between a kid? Who's just going through a developmental phase who likes to say no, you know, to everything versus something that gets it, then characterized as a quote unquote disorder.
Emily Leering (15m 47s):
Sure. Yeah. So the disorder is typically in the diagnostic manual that we use. First of all, there's going to be like, it's, it's impacting your day to day life. Whether you're going to school or you're at home. And like your whole family life is disrupted because of this behavior or you're getting, you know, expelled from school or things like that because of your behavior. It's really hard to, it can be hard to differentiate because there are plenty of people who probably do qualify for an O D D diagnosis, but their parents have just accepted this as their personality and have never really gone out and, and sought treatment for it. And then there are other people who family can't function because of it.
Emily Leering (16m 29s):
Little kids definitely go through developmental phases where everything is no. And so that, and that's what I talk about with my families and the, on my blog is that they need a lot of control. We all, as humans need a lot of control and kids don't get it very much. So for kids who are strong willed, if we try to micromanage their day to day, they're gonna push back harder and harder and harder. And that doesn't necessarily mean that they have O D it could just mean that if we took a step back and let them have more control, then things would ease up. But since we're coming at them, they're coming at us. And it's
Mark Graban (17m 6s):
Thinking back to, to Henry relationship, relationship damage, you know, there, you know, that that came from not listening to others, you know, sort of illustrated within the book, or you might see in, in, in real life, you know, seemed like it took, it took Henry or not to give the whole book away, but, you know, so want people to, to buy the book and, and support you and share that book with people who give benefit from it. But like, it, it took a while, right? So the learning from mistakes sometimes takes time or something has to get maybe bad enough for someone to say, oh, wait, I, I should, I should change.
Mark Graban (17m 49s):
I should learn. I guess this is gonna be a very broad, you know, open question. But, you know, I'm curious how often does some, do you see somebody repeating the same mistakes to a point where there's no avoiding doing something where, where it could have maybe been addressed earlier?
Emily Leering (18m 9s):
You know, I think as humans, we generally tend to be more oppositional. So we kind of go into every situation thinking I'm right. The way I view this is right. And not, not that they're even like thinking, Hey, I'm a narcissist or anything like that. It's not like that, but it's just kind of ingrained in us. The way I view the world is the way that it is. So it can be harder to take somebody else's point of view into account. For some people, they just have a really hard time ever seeing that you can have conversations, but like, with, for, like, for example, for Henry, if you say to him before he does something, you shouldn't do this because this is gonna happen.
Emily Leering (18m 51s):
He's probably not going to listen to it. He needs to have that conversation as a strong-willed personality afterwards. Okay. So you made this choice and this is what happened. What do you think about it instead of us saying like, you have to stop doing this. They have to kind of think through and process through what has happened. And I think that that's true for adults too. If you, you know, you said he, he created that change, but it took him a while. It took him a while to say, yeah, mom, I think, you know what you're talking about, but I always point out to my clients. There's no guarantee that next time, that same situation happens, that he won't do the exact same thing because it's hard to change those patterns. So for a lot of people, it's admitting that and then making a mistake again and admitting it and making a little bit less mistake next time.
Emily Leering (19m 38s):
And it being this evolving process because people don't just say, oh, yes, I understand what I've done wrong. And now I'm going to make that change. It's a, it's a like rewriting your brain structure. Really. It's like, it's hard for you to just flip a switch like that and say, okay, I'm not gonna do that ever again.
Mark Graban (19m 55s):
Yeah. And you, you, you talk about, you know, adults and, and some of their needs. I mean, whether it's Henry or an adult in a workplace, I mean, so like there's a balance, like people, I think naturally do tend to like their own ideas, a lot of the work, and
Emily Leering (20m 12s):
There's something wrong with us for that. That, that makes sense.
Mark Graban (20m 14s):
Yeah. You know, you know that there's, you know, this phrase, Meg Wheatley, who I think is a psychologist, who's done a lot of work around change management, you know, there's this phrase, she uses people own what they create and, you know, I think that's natural, but when let's, say's a situation like Henry in the book of BA of sort of thinking, or even saying, nobody else knows how to do it, but me, like at what point does that, where you used the word, you know, narcissistic is, is that part of someone being a narcissist that they think they're the only one who gets it? Or is it just sort of a related thing that tends to happen?
Emily Leering (20m 53s):
I mean, that's kinda tricky. I definitely in the mental health world, narcissism is not something that we love working with. So there's certain professionals who, who commit themselves to that and who are the experts at that. So I can't really define what narcissism is and where you cross that line from like overconfidence into, into being a narcissist. But I don't know. I think for some people, it's just that they, they don't even see the connection between their actions and how it affects others. And this is an example I use for my childcare professionals all the time is I can go to my husband's softball game and I can see grown men get upset about something that happened, and they're gonna start getting in each other's faces, you know, swearing at each other, throwing punches, things like that.
Emily Leering (21m 43s):
And then we can see one of those same individuals. Who's a parent snapping at their kid and saying, Hey, we don't hit people. And, and that to an outsider makes complete sense of why a kid would watch his dad do that and then act in that way. But the parent has like completely oblivious to it. So I think for a lot of people, it's just that disconnect between seeing how I acted and, and what that consequence is that leads to people. Not always understanding that maybe they could learn something from their actions.
Mark Graban (22m 15s):
Yeah, yeah. Or, or being able to anticipate the reaction or the impact, I guess. I mean, in a, I mean, I, I was standing, waiting to board a plane last week and, you know, it seemed like it was maybe a four year old boy and a six year old sister. And I always make mistakes at guessing ages, but let's pretend that that's what ages were. They, they were both young. They could have been three and five, but the little boy was running around. And I was, I was pretty surprised or, you know, he comes running toward his sister and like both hands, like just gives her a full on like shove. So like the shoulders and the sister kind of goes flying backward and is clearly not happy and crying.
Mark Graban (22m 55s):
And like, you know, it's just, it's interesting to see stages of development where, well then the, then the boy got upset now. I dunno if he
Emily Leering (23m 1s):
Mark Graban (23m 2s):
Emily Leering (23m 3s):
He was gonna get in trouble.
Mark Graban (23m 4s):
Oh yeah. It's hard to tell, seeing the effect of what happened or the okay. I'm in trouble. But it's just interesting to, to think, well, you know, a child that young might not be able to anticipate the expected cause and effect of, if I shove my sister, she's going to fall, it's going to hurt. She's gonna be upset. I dunno if he's expecting that. Or if he was surprised by it.
Emily Leering (23m 27s):
Yeah. In his mind, we're having fun. This is great. And then this happens and you know, for some people, impulse control is a big challenge and there's developmental phases where we know kids aren't gonna have it. But then there are also certain situations where kids might not have it to the level that they're supposed to. And so, so for example, like a Henry, he, he could just come in and say, I have an idea. I'm gonna do this, knock over a tower or something like that to other kids, he didn't come in saying it is my intention to bother you all. It is my intention to knock down what you've created. It's just that impulse control of, I have an idea and I'm gonna do it. And so that is, that's a factor in it too. So I think that's a, a human behavior is so hard to really narrow down because it's not just one thing that's contributing to it.
Emily Leering (24m 14s):
There's a lot of different things. So even stronghold children or stronghold personalities, they're still impacted by their relationships with their family members and where they work and where they live and all that stuff. It's, it's fairly complicated.
Mark Graban (24m 27s):
And you know, again, you know, I'm, I'm observing these children at the airport. I'm not a parent, so I don't have that direct experience or yeah. That direct experience from, from seeing you know, about these things that happen. But I, I can think of parallels to adults in a workplace
Emily Leering (24m 47s):
Mark Graban (24m 48s):
Of somebody verbally shoving somebody. Right. That sort that same, maybe, you know, if it's lack of impulse control or intentional, I'm going to say something like, was that, were, were you trying to upset them or are you surprised that what you said could be really upsetting, you know, thinking of what you said about coming in and, and knocking something down. I think sometimes an organization's, you know, a leader comes in and is well intended and they have an idea and they're doing the equivalent of knocking down someone's tower of blocks that they've built and, and, and the similar behaviors, it, you know, it's not too much of a stretch to think of parallel situations.
Mark Graban (25m 30s):
And then the challenge is what do we do about it as adults? Do we, you know, hopefully do we hope they get leadership coaching? Or at what point, this is a very general question. It might be unfair. It might be a mistake to ask, but like at what point does even an adult in a workplace maybe need to consider more clinical help or counseling.
Emily Leering (25m 52s):
Yeah. I mean, there, there's not an official answer to that. My answer to people is if you think for, for yourself, at least if you think you need help, you probably should seek it out because we all need it really, especially right now, what's going on with the goal pandemic and work shortages and all that stuff. I mean, it's just, it's a stressful, it has been a stressful time for people. So I think everyone could benefit from it, but there isn't that line that says, okay, you need to do this. I mean, I'm, I'm sure there are certain company policies that exist where they say, okay, this is, this is a line that we've drawn. If you've, you know, caused emotional harm to people or something like that, that can be measured, but it's still really hard to, to recognize that the other thing that we'll say is we, we talk about in therapy, if you're a customer or you're a hostage.
Emily Leering (26m 39s):
So if you're a court ordered to go to therapy, the only way that you're gonna get the benefit of therapy is you. If you've changed yourself from a hostage to a customer, if you don't wanna be there, you're not gonna get anything out of it. It's not like we can tell you what to do. And you're just going to take it and, and learn from it. So really clinical work, you know, one on one or group or anything like that, it's the level of investment that the individual has when they go there.
Mark Graban (27m 4s):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess it, the expression would be true. You have to want to be helped to get help. You have to want to change. You could be sent to a therapist or HR class or something. And, and yeah. So back to your point earlier of like, you can't tell someone, you have to stop doing this
Emily Leering (27m 27s):
Mark Graban (27m 28s):
Workplace behavior or professional behavior that that's causing harm or damaging relationships. They're gonna have to embrace that. Hopefully at some point,
Emily Leering (27m 37s):
And being able to figure out like it, when we come in and say, you have to stop saying what you're saying, that that does nothing to them. It just tells 'em something they can't do instead. It's that understanding of why, why would we want you to not do this? What, what harm has it caused you or others? That is the value that comes from like a strong will personality. And, you know, for, for people with strong wills, they will accept the consequence. I mean, there are people who are thrill seekers, they know they might get a ticket because they're driving too fast or they know that what they're doing could result in some medical bills. If they get hurt, they think about it, they process it and they say, yeah, I still wanna do this. And again, that's human nature.
Emily Leering (28m 17s):
And so it's, it's hard when, like, we, especially like in a leadership, we just wanna be able to say, okay, this is the rule and you gotta follow it. Well, that's just not life. People don't follow every single rule. They always stretch them and think about what the consequences is. And that's, that's humans. That's what we're dealing with.
Mark Graban (28m 34s):
Yeah. Yeah. So things Emily, you know, on, on your website and again, the website, Sue falls, counseling dot, there's an intro that you're reported there. Yeah. And again, like another hint that, you know, you you're in the right place on this podcast. And in that intro video, you said, I'm not a perfect person. I make mistakes. I don't expect perfection. That's not reality. So I was wondering, yeah. How, how does, you know, being kind of front and center of admitting your own mistakes, admitting that you're not perfect? How, how does that help your clients? Or how does that help you work with them?
Emily Leering (29m 12s):
That comes completely from the fact that I've worked with families and of young children since I started is as a mental health professional. And I'll say, excuse me, when I was doing childcare prior to my mental health field transition, when I was, you know, before I went to grad school and everything, I did have this idea of like, this is how you respond to a kid when this happens, and this is the one answer. So I had a lot of growing to do. And, and I just heard from so many parents about like, you can't parent from a book, or I tried this thing that we talked about and it totally didn't work. And then my experience in childcare as well later then of like, yeah, I have a master's degree.
Emily Leering (29m 53s):
I have been doing this. I've been working in this field for a really long time. And I still cannot figure out how to handle this one situation or these many situations. So it's kind of that humility of it doesn't matter where you come from, what experience you have, humanities, humanity, and things are gonna happen. You cannot put kids in this little square box, right? So you, you really have to be okay with admitting that you're, you're not gonna be perfect at everything. And for me, that just felt like we, we have our motto at our practice, which is counseling for real life. That that's the goal. I didn't wanna be this stuffy therapist who shows up in a pencil skirt and St. ATTO heels and says, let's talk about how we can improve your child's behavior.
Emily Leering (30m 36s):
I wanted to be the person who comes out, who has, I have a playroom I'm in my playroom right now. So I sand I've got played, like sometimes my clothes don't look the same at four o'clock in the afternoon as they did in the morning, because we've played and, and stuff has happened and stuff's gotten thrown at me cuz that happens. So I'm just, I just wanted to embrace them. And I think that's real for people, for people to be able to hear that my kids are not perfect, that I've been out in pu public and there's been a temper tantrum. Cause I think there is this assumption of you're a mental health professional. Like you're licensed, you're trained. Your kids must be perfect and no, no they're not. And nor do I wanna put that on them,
Mark Graban (31m 13s):
It's gotta make it easier for people to open up to you about their own challenges or concerns or doubts. Right?
Emily Leering (31m 19s):
Yeah. I mean, I would assume, so think people, I feel like people are fairly open with me. I mean, so I'm a mandated reporter, so I have to report child abuse. So sometimes parents are like, I'm a little afraid to tell you what I have to tell you right now. Cause people do live in fear of like, if I lost my cool and I spanked my kid, is that something that I'm gonna get, you know, reported to, to CPS for? So they're, I mean, therapy is vulnerable for sure. So I'm sure there are things that people still feel like they need to hold back cuz they just don't know what they can trust. But my goal is for them to feel like they trust me and they can share whatever they need to so that we can work through this for them.
Mark Graban (31m 56s):
Yeah. And you know, I think my, my experience when I've seen, you know, back to adult workplaces, when a leader is willing to show some vulnerability and say the way you did in that video, I'm a leader, but I make mistakes. I'm not perfect. You know, I, I, I think that sets a really helpful tone because you know, the, the perfectionism or the demand for perfect for perfection can lead to people hiding and covering up problems. Right. And being ready to speak up and all sorts of things that just lead to dysfunction within the workplace.
Emily Leering (32m 30s):
Right. And I think going a step beyond that, you know, I, I have my video that says I'm not perfect and I need to live that every day. Whether that's in my practice as a leader of my therapist and my staff that work here or with my clients, if I say that I'm not perfect, but then I act like I am, then nothing has happened. I think that's on my part for leadership too. When, when we're selling the idea of come work here, you know, this is, we value you self care and we value vacation time. And like we're, we're willing to admit when we're wrong and then you get in and you find out that like, no, they don't value vacation time and they get mad at you. Every time you take vacation, that's that's not sending the same message.
Emily Leering (33m 13s):
And so that's a, that's a strong part of leadership that we need to have too.
Mark Graban (33m 17s):
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Living the values, sticking to principles, even if it doesn't seem convenient. I mean, it's not a principle then if you bend under the first sign of stress or
Emily Leering (33m 30s):
Mark Graban (33m 32s):
Yeah. And that, it certainly does get frustrating when what's stated or what's out on the website. Doesn't line up with reality. I know that that that's upsetting to a lot of adults in, you know, different workplaces, but you know, I wanna ask you one other thing, Emily, again, our guest today, Emily Learing, among other things. She is a, what you say registered play therapist. Am I making a mistake there? I got,
Emily Leering (33m 54s):
Nope, you're good. Yeah. Almost
Mark Graban (33m 55s):
Said certified, but you know what, what's tell us a little bit about, I do have one other question to ask you about that from your blog, but in a nutshell, what is involved in, in, in becoming a registered play therapist and you know, you mentioned sandboxes and, and getting dirty, like just tell us a little bit day in the life of a play therapist maybe and how that sure.
Emily Leering (34m 17s):
Yeah. So anybody who has the registered play therapy or play therapist credential that comes through the association for play therapy. And so they set forth those standards. So they have a certain amount of hours of training that you have to have either going to conferences or taking college courses in the field of play therapy. Plus you also have to get supervision from somebody who is a registered play therapist supervisor, which I actually am. I have the supervision piece as well on there, which is somebody who understands play therapy, training them to do that. And every play therapist is gonna be different. There's different models of play therapy. So there are some that are very directive where somebody might come in and say, okay, today we're gonna do a puppet show.
Emily Leering (34m 58s):
And we're gonna learn about how to, you know, use kind words with each other. There are some that are completely non-directive, which is more my style where we have just this huge playroom where they come in and they have aggressive themes. They have family themes, they have mastery, there's all these different things that they can choose from to decide what is best for them today in that moment that they're in. So you can really it's across the spectrum. But the, the main thing is that play therapy is a way of understanding kids because kids don't come in and say, Hey, I'm four. And I'm really stressed out about the fact that my parents are getting divorced. I need you to help me. They don't do that. They don't have the ability to, that can play out some pretty substantial thought processes through their play.
Emily Leering (35m 43s):
And so that's, what's use play. I
Mark Graban (35m 55s):
Is that, that play therapy is that one-on-one between the child and you as the therapist, or are there situations where kids are playing with each other? Is it just kept very individual?
Emily Leering (36m 6s):
It, it can be both. Primarily you'll see a lot of individual happening, but we have individual therapy. We have family therapy and we have group therapy. So it kind of depends on the therapist and the kids that are in the office, what they might need. So for example, if I have a parent who comes in and says, these kids are just fighting all day long, I cannot get them to stop fighting. I might do sibling sessions where we are doing that. They come in, they fight in the playroom and I'm there to kind of help them learn some of those skills. So that happens. Sometimes there's even parent child play therapy protocols or, or methods. So you kind of teach the parent how to interact with the child and how to set limits with the child and things like that.
Emily Leering (36m 49s):
So it can be kind of across the board, just depends on the kid or the family and the therapist who's running it.
Mark Graban (36m 55s):
Yeah. And would, in what ways would play therapy be helpful for Henry the corgi in, in book Henry Knows Best.
Emily Leering (37m 5s):
So with a, again with a strong old kid, we cannot tell them you should not do this. So for me, I'm a primarily child centered play therapist. And so that means I'm non-directive. So Henry's gonna come into my playroom and something bad's gonna happen. He's gonna build a tower and, and I'm gonna see that, that tower's about to fall over because he's not, he hasn't thought through the process enough. But I also know that if I tell him that he hasn't thought through the process, not that it's gonna fall over, he's gonna reject that. And he's gonna say no, and he is gonna fight me on it. He might even say, I'm done with this. I'm not building this anymore. So I'm gonna let it fall down. I'm gonna just be there with him and talk through it with him while it's falling down and helping him to understand what he did.
Emily Leering (37m 49s):
So it's more of a there's there's tools, which I can't, you know, fully explain and in the short description of this, but there are ways that we talk to them to help them to see I did this, this happened. And then they kind of decide what they wanna do with that. And sometimes kids do just give up and say, I'm done for now. Sometimes they say, I wanna try again. And we help them to figure out how to do it differently. And they learn from that. And that is way more valuable than me as a parent or adults, teacher, whatever, coming in and saying, next time you do it, you build with the big ones on the bottom, and then you do the medium ones. And then you do the, the small ones. Yes, that's logical. Yes. That's what we wanna do as, as adults. Cuz we love to be able to just help fix things, but they don't want that.
Mark Graban (38m 29s):
So I'll I'll link Emily. I, it is my mistake. I should have mentioned your blog front, but I'll no, that's fine. A link to that in the show notes as well. There, there was a blog post about in particular games that could be used to help kids with ADHD develop their attention spans, which
Emily Leering (38m 47s):
Is oh sure.
Mark Graban (38m 48s):
Interesting application. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Emily Leering (38m 50s):
Yeah. So this is kinda an interesting concept that people don't really understand. So if we want kids to learn math skills, I think our, our logical thought processes as adults is let's sit them down and let's play a game about math. Let's let's have them add, let's have them count out the squares and things like that. That, that might be true. But also kids playing on a swing set is linked with or like, you know, climbing things like that is linked with things like their scores. They're in eighth grade in science and math and things like that. So we have to think of kids as different than what we would think of for adults. Of course, if we wanna help a 10th grader to learn math goals, we're probably gonna send them to tutoring.
Emily Leering (39m 30s):
And someone's gonna sit down with them and talk with them about these concepts, but kids are totally different. So my blog that I have on there about attention span kind of talks about how, if you're playing things that have hand eye coordination or hand foot coordination, like kicking a soccer ball, you know, a balloon going through the air and you have to keep it in the air and you have to, you know, just use your right hand this time or just use your left hand, playing baseball, things like that, that can actually help to build the structures of the brain that we need to help us with attention span. So the approach is not to say, okay, I want you to sit and practice listening to me cause that doesn't work very well. Sure. We're trying to engage those other parts of their brain that are needed for that skill.
Emily Leering (40m 12s):
And that's how we do it.
Mark Graban (40m 14s):
Yeah. Well thank you for, for sharing about that. And again, I hope people will go check out the blog, Disciplined Children, you know, Emily's practice Encompass Mental Health, her website can be found at SiouxFallsCounseling.com. And then you, you had mentioned before that you and your husband, you had mentioned you're starting a podcast. Is that still in the works? Yes.
Emily Leering (40m 34s):
Yeah. It's not, it's not on there yet. None of the episodes are on there. We have a couple of episodes that we've reported, but we, we were just doing a really big event for our, for an open house for our practice. So that's not up yet.
Mark Graban (40m 45s):
Do you have a title are still figuring that out?
Emily Leering (40m 48s):
The Informed Parent,
Mark Graban (40m 49s):
The informed parent. So I will encourage people to go and, and, and look for that maybe at the time when this is released, maybe the podcast is available or I'm sure they can come to SiouxFallsCounseling.com and, and or to your blog if they want to get updates, to
Emily Leering (41m 6s):
Be able to find it. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Mark Graban (41m 9s):
Okay. And, and in a nutshell, or you like what, what's the podcast summary of the, the theme and, and who should be listening and how it'll help?
Emily Leering (41m 17s):
The goal is for parents to have the information that they need to make the best decision for their family. So we talk about a lot of different resources that might be available for, for parents or for kids. A lot of it is local. So, you know, what, what can you do with your, your kid, if your kid has sensory challenges and you need occupational therapy in Sioux Falls. But, but even some of those things, like if we have an occupational therapist on, or if we have a therapist talking about trauma and how it impacts the brain, like those things can be informative about like how you perceive the situation. So there is some benefit, the most benefit is gonna be the local cause we'll have links to local places that offer the services or have the, you know, a place that's good for kids in our area.
Mark Graban (41m 59s):
Yeah. Well, Emily, thank you for sharing all that and, and sharing your favorite mistake story and, and better yet what you learned from it and how it helped you grow. So again, our guest has been Emily Leary. I love that you wrote a book about learning from mistakes. Again, that book is Henry Knows Best a story about learning from mistakes and listening to others. I hope people check that out and just to connect a couple of dots real quick, I can think at least two guests offhand, Emily, and to the listeners who thought they knew best. And they didn't listen. One back to episode 2 at the time Will Hurd was a member of Congress from Texas. And he told the story about how he lost his first runoff election, because he thought he knew best.
Mark Graban (42m 42s):
And he didn't listen to his political consultants, but you know, he owned up to it. He took responsibility for what he did instead of, you know, blaming them for not making him listen. You know, so that I think was a good lesson from him. And then episode 172, Jim McCann, the founder of 1-800-flowers.com actually got told by a lot of people who might have been experts that this idea of selling flowers and shipping them through FedEx, wasn't going to work, but he thought he, you know, turned out, he knew best. So I guess
Emily Leering (43m 14s):
Turns out he knew best. And that's, that's the thing is that when it comes to this book, it and strong will people it's putting the information out, letting them make the decision so that they can own whatever comes from it, good or bad. This is the information you have and go with it.
Mark Graban (43m 29s):
Yep. And even in, in Jim McCann's case, it was the founder of FedEx, himself, Fred Smith, who was telling them, I know best this isn't gonna work, but they tried it and it worked and
Emily Leering (43m 40s):
Mark Graban (43m 40s):
Worked, their, their businesses have both benefited from Jim being strong, willed enough. But
Emily Leering (43m 45s):
Yeah, definitely. It's a cool stories.
Mark Graban (43m 48s):
The challenges of being an entrepreneur. Right. Of when, when to think really, okay, everyone's telling me I'm wrong. This turned out to be a bonus question for you before we wrap up Emily. There are times when an entrepreneur has a vision and a lot of people are telling 'em I know best this doesn't, this isn't gonna work. And, and they plow through it. Sometimes everyone telling you, it's not a good idea, turns out to be right. And
Emily Leering (44m 10s):
Yeah, well, and I think from my entrepreneurial journey, if your ideal customer is telling you, it's not gonna work, you should probably listen to that. And if it's somebody who's never started a business before and is just, you know, wanting to wait and give you an opinion, then you, you, you give that less weight than you do the person who is like your actual ideal customer saying, absolutely not. This is not, not gonna work. That was actually something I will just evolve into this. I wrote a different book previously and it was more for parents. It was like, do this. Like, these are the different skills that you can use. And I had a bunch of people volunteer to read it and give me feedback. And when I followed up with all of 'em, they were like, I'm too busy, Emily.
Emily Leering (44m 53s):
I I'm trying so hard to read the, to read this and give you feedback, but I can't do it. And it was a light bulb for me. I was like, cuz you're a busy mom. This book is for busy moms and busy moms can't read books. And so that's kind of how Henry came to be too, because they wanted something they could do with their kids, which is what you can do with the book. So they're still using those skills. They're just using them with their children instead of after they put their kids down to bed after a long day, having to try to figure out how to find that book and stay awake long enough to get through the chapter.
Mark Graban (45m 22s):
Yeah. Well, that's, that's a brilliant insight about, are you, are you hearing the thoughts of your actual ideal customers or just random people you're talking to or other business owners or professors or whatever, that's, that's a brilliant insight. So thank you for that. And we got a bonus little mini favorite mistake story there, I think related to your books.
Emily Leering (45m 43s):
Mark Graban (45m 47s):
Well, thank you for sharing all of those Emily and really, really appreciate the chance to talk to you. Thanks for being on the podcast.
Emily Leering (45m 53s):
Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.
Mark Graban (45m 55s):
Well again, for more information about Emily and everything, she does look for links in the show notes or go to markgraban.com/mistake177. As always. I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work. And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me MyFavoriteMistakePodcast@gmail.com. And again, our website is MyFavoriteMistakePodcast.com.