As a parent, I’m working on being a kid pathologist.

So. To be clear. I understand what “causes kids.” I know the birds and the bees.

But I want to understand what makes my kids be the kids that they are. I want to understand what motivates them. I want to craft experiences so they are best equipped to achieve their goals in life. I want to listen to the verbal and nonverbal cues they give in order to best measure how we’re doing as parents.

When I take the rubric of a pathologist, and apply that to being a kid pathologist — I’m basically admitting that what we do in our day job is about humans.

The more we can remind ourselves that we’re dealing with real human problems, the better we’ll be at crafting real human solutions.

Same is true with parenting.

The more that I remind myself to be a problem-lover when it relates to my kids, the more I root myself in looking deeper through their symptoms — a cry, a temper tantrum, a fight, a dirty look, a mouth full of sass. I’ll see root problems.

When you can really peel back to see a problem or a need, you discover that the needs almost never change but the ways to meet them can.

This is totally true in parenting. A parenting technique that works for a toddler is not likely to work for a pre-teen.

My son loved to be swaddled (tightly wrapped in a blanket as a baby). It helps babies fall asleep. He was addicted to being swaddled.

Now that he’s a pre-teen, do you think I should tightly wrap him in a blanket when he’s having trouble falling asleep?

However, the need doesn’t change. He just needs a solution that actually addresses the problem.

The skills I’ve learned in my day job as a designer have prompted me to take this formula — problem : goal : signal — in to how I can bring out the best in our kids.

The kids aren’t the problem. The users aren’t the problem.

Sometimes, they don’t even know they have problems. Often times, we don’t, either.

We — as designers, dads, and beyond — haven’t given our attention to the problems they’re facing because we’re too focused on making solutions.

They deserve a problem lover over a problem solver.

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