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!

 

 

Worth it: 003

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I found this hidden in my drafts & thought it would be great to post for today’s throwback Thursday! This was written about a year ago when I was still working in the pediatric emergency room. I love this post because stories like these happen all of the time thanks to child life specialists!

(The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.)

When I walked into 6-year-old Bettys room to do an IV teaching, she was nowhere in sight. I asked mom if she was in the bathroom when Betty started to scream from under the sink.  (Side note: Can you imagine being so scared that you hide under a sink?! )”No!” “I don’t want the needle!” “You’re not going to pinch me!” I then crouched down and sat in front of Betty to introduce myself; “Hi, Betty – my name is Diane and I’m a Child Life Specialist. I don’t have any needles with me, but I did bring my bubbles. Do you like blowing bubbles?” Betty nodded. We started to blow bubbles and Betty hesitantly popped them from under the sink. After a little, I said “why don’t you come out from under the sink so that you can pop them better… I’ll make a big one for you!” “Okay!” Betty said & came right out from under the sink.

As we continued to pop bubbles, I started to ask Betty about her  hospital experience. It was her first time, she felt very sick, and she was very worried they might give her a shot.  I validated her feelings and then began to talk to Betty about the different ways we were going to help her feel better while she was in the hospital. I told her about the urine test she did, the flu test she did, the strep test she did, and about her upcoming IV. Betty was now aware that the IV meant that there was going to be a “pinch” involved and that the most important rule for getting her IV was that she could not move her arm because her veins (aka, blue tunnels) are very slippery. Betty also made the decision to play on the iPad while they started her IV so that she didn’t have to watch, and she wanted her nurse to count to 3 before the pinch.

Our plan was in place. I told Betty I would go let her nurse know that she was ready and she nodded & hopped up on the bed. Betty did GREAT with her IV, you would have never thought she was hiding under the sink screaming just 10 minutes before. I was so proud of her and how brave she was with getting her IV!

 

Favorite apps

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I just recently got approval to use an iPad as a tool for distraction and education with my patients. I am so grateful to finally be able to use this amazing tool! Here are some of my favorite apps that I’ve been using:

Medi toons is my go-to app when doing appy teachings for older kids and parents. it’s a free app that shows videos about different (mostly gastro) conditions.

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This app was recently reviewed by one of my favorite child life bloggers, child life mommy. It’s a [free] app that helps teach little ones to control their frustration by remembering to breathe, think, and then do!
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Wellapets is an awesome [free] app about asthma! This interactive game does a great job of promoting asthma education in a fun way.

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This is my go to app for MRI & CT scan teachings. Just last week I had a 9yo patient that was going to have an MRI. He’d had them before but was always been sedated for them. I showed him what the MRI machine sounded like with this app & thanks to that, he said he didn’t need any medicine to do his MRI this time. Thanks, Simply Sayin’!

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Disney Junior Appisodes is a forever favorite. This app features familiar beloved characters in an interactive & colorful display. This is ideal for lengthy procedures & really engages children in the appisode.

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Caillou’s check up app has been a very popular pick on my iPad. So popular I decided to splurge a bit ($4.99) and unlock all of the “levels” (you get the first level for free). With this app you’re able to help Caillou with his doctor’s office check up: taking his temperature, height, weight, etc.

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I downloaded this app just as a filler to have more choices for my toddler population and for some reason it’s also been a very popular choice amongst my patients. It’s a simple free little app in which you’re given tasks to complete such as  puzzles, picking the largest fish, picking the smallest fish, etc. while calming, ocean-themed music plays in the background. I’m very impressed with this app and it’s popularity!

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And finally, Skylanders Lost Islands. This free app is VERY popular with wide age range of my male patients. It’s great for the younger ones because it plays a 4-5minute video upon starting which is very dramatic and engaging. For my older boys, it’s a fun and interactive game with familiar characters.

Tea Time with Activated Charcoal

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Earlier this week I had a 2-year-old girl, let’s call her Lily, come into the ER because she had gotten into her grandmothers blood pressure medication. I was able to successfully distract her during her IV, being hooked up to a monitor, etc. After all of this, however, came the hard part… getting her to drink all of the activated charcoal on her own to avoid an NG tube.

Luckily, Lily was thirsty from the moment she arrived to the ER so when she got a bottle with a “black milkshake” in her hands, she quickly latched on and chugged a good amount! After a few gulps, her mouth and chin were covered with black goop and a small drop splattered onto her hand. She stopped drinking and asked me to clean her hand for her (such a girly girl)! However, this was the end of her willingly drinking the “black milkshake” and there was still about a quarter left.

The nurse told mom that Lily needed to drink the entire amount given because this was being given as an exact dosage. At this point mom started to get a little nervous begging Lily to drink it, bribing her with toys, trips to Disney world, ice cream, you name it. But Lily was not budging – she would quickly turn her head the other way and scrunch her forehead.

This is when my “Child Life Lightbulb” turned on! I rushed out of the room and grabbed my tea set (shout out to my Child Life Assistants for always keeping my toys clean for situations like these!) I set up the tea set for Lily, mom, the nurse, and I to have some fun. We pretended to pour tea into our cups, cheers, put “air sugar cubes” in our tea, sing, etc. Lily still wasn’t too happy to be drinking out of her bottle since everyone else had tea cups so, the nurse poured Lily’s drink into a medicine cup which she seemed to be satisfied with. And just like that, Lily drank the last bit of her black milkshake! Thanks to such a pro-child life nurse & a calm & supportive mother, we were all able to work together to help little Lily drink her activated charcoal, avoiding another procedure. This is definitely a Child Life win in my book!

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Image Source: http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Laugh-Learn-Say-Please/dp/B0083IXKXK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1412110554&sr=8-3&keywords=tea+set+toy

Favorite find of the month!

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I’m so excited that I found this awesome 2-in-1 bubble wand with spinning light on top! This works great for distraction – especially with toddlers/preschool kiddies whose attention span isn’t always the longest. I bought this little gem at Walgreens in the Spring/seasonal isle for $3.99. Happy bubble blowin’ & light spinnin’ fellow child life-ers!

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“Little Evelyn enjoying the Vecta Distraction System donated to El Paso Children’s by Children’s Miracle Network particularly effective calming and soothing special needs children’s during procedures in the Emergency Department and Imaging.”

 

Source: Pinterest.com