This is not a sponsored post.
I’ve been asked a lot recently about the tools we use to help with Ivy’s anxiety and fears,
so I thought I would list a few of the resources we have used/ are using that seem to have made a difference.
We have used lots of books to open up ways of communication about Ivy’s feelings – there are many on the market but here are some that have helped us.
When I’m Feeling Scared by Trace Moroney was the very first book that we discovered.
It is good for children who have strong emotions but haven’t got the words to express them.
Beautifully written and illustrated,
it’s geared towards younger children, it helped Ivy to understand that her feelings and worries were relevant and that they were important to be acknowledged.
It has, in fact, been a favourite for all of my kids over the years.
The Angry Octopus by Lori Lite and Max Stasuyk is a book that helps little bodies to cope with strong emotions through meditation and ‘progressive muscular relaxation’.
We first discovered it through the play therapists in the hospital who were using it to help Ivy work through trauma and pain during procedures.
It lists some immediate and long term benefits for children practicing progressive muscle relaxation as:
- Ability to control anger
- Lower heart rate and breathing rate
- Increased blood flow throughout the body
- Reduced anger or general frustrations
- Increased sense of control over emotions and moods
- Decrease in generalized anxiety and anxiety produced phobias
- Decrease in panic attacks
- Increased self-esteem
- Improved concentration
It was one of the first books we used to teach Ivy about slowing her breathing to allow endorphins into her system.
You can download an e-book version if you want (we love the e-book with audio as it is easy to focus on when Ivy is extremely stressed or on Midazolam)
and it’s also available as an app on iTunes.
My Many Coloured Days by Dr Seuss is a book that Ivy’s awesome play therapist is using at the moment.
It associates colours with feelings and each week they choose a colour and a feeling that go hand in hand and complete an art work.
During that time they talk about the types of things that make Ivy feel whichever emotion they have chosen for the session.
It also creates colour imagery for the girl to concentrate on in times of stress.
Ivy likes it a lot and looks forward to creating something that coincides with her feelings.
Lessons of a LAC by Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan is Ivy’s new favourite book to take to hospital.
Even though it is geared towards the younger child, it has been very helpful for her during peak stress periods.
It is a story about Loppy the LAC who is quite negative in his thoughts until he meets a Calmster, who teaches him that it’s okay to find the positives in life as well.
Ivy says she likes it because, “Loppy and Calmy remind [her] of adrenaline and endorphins and how adrenaline (the negative thoughts) can block the ‘good guys’ (endorphins) so she can’t feel relaxed”.
She also thought she was more like Loppy when she was in the hospital and that the nurses and the play therapist were the Calmsters.
The book is written in easy to understand language that describes complex feelings and the characters created by the illustrator are easy to identify with and loveable.
Audio & Apps
There are some great audio books out there to choose from but our favourites come from Sparkle Stories.
We are currently using Stories for Helping and Healing which help Ivy to relate to her challenges and work through her fears.
Story telling is a great way for her to be able to concentrate on something else, to lose herself in her imagination.
We often listen to audio books in the car on the way to the hospital and sometimes we will plug some ear phones into the iPod so that the story takes away the sounds of the treatment room.
They do cost $6 each but are well worth it and you can download free podcasts from iTunes as well.
Relax Melodies is a sound App that allows Ivy (or me – often me) to choose relaxing sounds to listen to. There is a free app which is fantastic but we have just bought the upgrade for $3.79
It’s great for relaxing after a procedure and I often use it for Ivy and Noah when they are sad, upset, uptight or sick and it just seems to comfort them.
It’s also great for listening to to go to sleep.
They offer her the ability to take herself away from the trauma of what is going on.
Some that we use include:
Sleep meditations for children (self explanatory)
Gloop – is like a lava lamp on your phone. Very relaxing and quite psychedelic (especially on Midaz).
Fireflies – basically you have to catch the glowing fireflies.
Toca Hair Salon – cutting and styling hair is the perfect escape from hospital procedures, according to the small girl.
There are many many out there, you just need to find some that appeal to your child.
Squeezing play dough: like a squishy stress ball.
Blowing bubbles – encourages Ivy to breathe in and out deeply. Also, how can you be sad when there are bubbles?
‘Horse breathing’ - this is one that I taught Ivy (and she named). By pushing air through your lips so they make a sound ‘ppppppppppp’ makes it very hard for anyone to tense their jaw. Try it. Just don’t laugh because it’s virtually impossible then.
Pet therapy - the more animals the better. Our hospital have Delta Dogs visit regularly.
Stomping and growling. It might seem strange but stomping before a stressful procedure works – it’s a trick I learnt during my midwife days. Ladies would stomp their way through a contraction.
We only use if before though because generally sticking needles into a body when you are moving is not recommended.
Growling (or making any animal noise) helps divert the adrenaline rush. By making a noise foreign to the feeling. For example – instead of saying “Ow” when it hurts, say “bow wow wow”.
It sounds weird but it works.
So, there you go.
I hope that these can help somebody out there, like they have helped Ivy.
If you have any good resources or suggestions, I’d love to hear about them too.