Yoga + Child Life – Part I

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You may remember at the end of last year I enrolled in the Rainbow Kids Yoga teacher training ( see post here ).  Let me start off by saying I am by no means an expert Yogi! I enrolled in this course not to deepen my practice or ditch child life to become a yoga teacher but rather to use the theory of yoga in my day to day as a CCLS. Fast forward 7 months after the Rainbow Kids Yoga training: it’s worth it!

I use the skills I learned with Rainbow Kids Yoga almost on a daily basis with my patients. So, what did I learn and how am I applying it to child life? For starters, it’s important to realize that yoga is more than just poses and flexibility. In fact, I don’t use yoga poses at all with my patients. What I do use is deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, and mindfulness practices.

I have so much information and resources to share on this topic that I’ve decided to break up this post into 3 parts so stay tuned for more!

As a lover of free resources, I have set up a google drive where I’ve uploaded tons of freebies from teacherspayteachers.com on this subject. Click the link below to view:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B7up2fwr6___OXJ4MUlJRnNoNjg?usp=sharing

Part I:

Deep Breathing

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Any wise 7-year-old will be quick to tell you that breathing is important – we have to do it to stay alive! And while this is quite true, our breath also has a big impact on our mind and how we cope with experiences.  image-4722.jpgSee this picture example of how our breath changes as we become stressed. This is where yoga comes into action! By teaching children different breathing exercises during times of stress/anxiety, they will be able to slow their breathing thus helping them cope, remain calm, and feel a sense of control.

There are TONS of kids breathing exercises you can find with a quick google search. For example one of my favorites is Snake Breath – take a big breath in and as you exhale make a “Sssss” sound as long as you can. Another favorite of mine is Lion Breath – take a big breath in and as you exhale stick out your tongue and make sure to make your meanest lion roar face. Find inspiration online or make up your own! I made up Bubble Breath – inhale and pretend you’re blowing one really really big bubble as you exhale // inhale and pretend you’re blowing out millions of really little bubbles as you exhale. For some little ones the concept of “inhale” and “exhale” may not be appropriate so change up your terminology to something like “smell the flowers, blow the leaves” or “smell the birthday cake, blow out the candles”.

In an effort provide a visual for the patients and to help me remember so many different breathing techniques, I created a laminated breathing cards with different clip art depicting the type of breath.  Shout out to Gretchen Blackmer for the inspiration for these breathing cards http://www.everydaywarrioryoga.com/ 

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Another great tool to use to show patients the effects of breath is to use a  Hoberman Sphere.This is one of my favorite resources to help kids really understand how lungs open and close with each breath. Plus it’s an overall really cool toy and instant rapport builder in my opinion. I’ll guide my patients in doing the different breathing exercises with the Hoberman sphere so they can see the full effect.

Another great tool I’ve used to support my breathing exercises is the book “Breathe, Chill: A Handy Book of Games and Techniques Introduced Breathing, Meditation, and Relaxation to Kids and Teens” by Lisa Roberts. This book breaks down various types of breath and how/when/why to use them. After I purchased this book I read the testimonials on the back and saw one of them was written by a CCLS! Just goes to show how beneficial yoga practice can be in the field of Child Life. You can find this book here on Amazon. 51NfLPIAGjL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I’ve had many kiddos that really enjoy doing these deep breathing practices before/during/after procedures. I even had a patient choose my breathing cards over my iPad for distraction during her first IV! Not only do these skills help them cope with the present situation, but they walk away with a new coping technique in their pocket for future use & that’s what child life is all about!

 

 

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Child life library

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Things have been so hectic this past week since coming back from conference! Luckily I had some time this morning to enjoy my coffee & take notes on my new book: “prescription for success: supporting children with autism spectrum disorder in the medical environment” by Jill Hudson. If time is kind to me, I hope to soon be able to write a review and let you all know how it is! Stay tuned, child life-ers!

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I was at a used book store the other day and found this little gem! “A mom of many hats” is a story from the point of view of a little girl whose mother gets diagnosed with cancer. The story explores the ways she and her brother coped with their mothers diagnosis and how they were able to help. It really is beautifully written and illustrated and ends with a smile.

 

 

I was able to find it on Amazon.com if any of you are interested 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Many-Hats-Debbie-Fink/dp/0967887135/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372542645&sr=8-1&keywords=a+mom+of+many+hats  

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While searching around Georgetown University Hospital’s Child Life resources page, I found this awesome list of books that may be helpful to children dealing with hospitalization. Check it out!

Helpful Books about Hospitalization

A book is a great way to start explaining different things your child may see in a hospital. These are some recommendations.

  • A Hospital Story: An Open Family Book for Parents and Children Together By Sara Bonnett Stein (Walker and Co., 1983)
  • A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital By Deborah Hautzig (Random House, 1985)
  • At the Hospital By Amy Moses (Child’s World, 1997)
  • Barney and Baby Bop Go to the Doctor By Margie Larsen, Dennis Full (Scholastic)
  • Coping with a Hospital Stay By Sharon Carter and Judy Monnig (Rosen Publishing Group, 1987)
  • Curious George Goes to the Hospital By Anne Civardi (EDC Publishing, 1994)
  • Going to the Hospital By Fred Rogers (GP/Putnam’s Sons, 1988)
  • Let’s Talk About Going to the Hospital By Marianne Johnson (Powerkids Press, 1998)
  • The Hospital Scares Me By Paula Hogan and Kirk Hogan (Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers, 1990)
  • This is a Hospital, Not a Zoo By R. Karim (Truesdell Services, 1998)
  • When Molly was in the Hospital: A Book for Brothers and Sisters of Hospitalized Children By Debbie Duncan (Rayve Productions, 1994)
  • Why am I going to the Hospital By Claire Ciliotta and Carole Livingston (Lyle Stuart Inc., 1981)

Source: http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org/body.cfm?id=557023

Image Source: Amazon.com

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I personally have this book sitting on my bookshelf — it’s a great addition to make to your child life section!

When facing a life-challenging or even terminal illness, it’s all about being normal. That’s what kids and teens want for themselves and from the people around them. With wit, wisdom, and courage, young people ages 7–21 tell in their own words what it’s like to be ill while trying to live each minute of their daily lives…” 


Source: http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Hellos-Hard-Good-Byes-Life-Threatening/dp/1575422727/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357849294&sr=1-5&keywords=child+life+specialist

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This Book Is For All Kids, But Especially My Sister Libby. Libby Died. 

I’ve bought this book myself — it’s a children’s book written by a little boy, Jack, about his sister, Libby. In it he asks questions and makes comments in a very honest way. Definitely a must have for those sad moments in life. 

Source: http://www.amazon.com/This-Especially-Sister-Libby-Libby/product-reviews/B005Q68ICA/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1