Outcomes Offered

■ Pain management strategies

■ Self-initiated management skills

■ Ability to shift attention

Have you ever learned to blow bubbles? I was teaching my granddaughter recently. We got a piece of wire and twisted it into a circle, put some dishwashing liquid into a plastic cup, and dipped the wire circle in until it was coated with the liquid. She held the ring of wire up to her mouth and blew. At first she blew too hard, and the liquid just ran down the wire onto her fingers. As she learned to blow gently, several big bubbles formed and floated offinto the air. She was excited. They sparkled in the light. She tried to catch, watched them pop, and giggled. It was a good thing that she had learned something new, something fun, because I didn't know what was about to happen a little while later.

She fell over and hurt her knee rather badly. Of course, a cut knee may not be as bad as the pain someone has ifthey are really sick, have broken a bone, or need to go into a hospital. But when you're young, and your mother isn't there, and your knee is hurting, and blood is running down your leg, it can be pretty scary.

I needed to bathe her knee, apply some antiseptic, and put on a bandage, but it hurt and she didn't want me to touch it. Tears rolled down her little cheeks. She was frightened it might hurt even more.

I remembered how she'd laughed and giggled when she'd blown the bubbles, so, before I started to patch up the wound, I went and got our little wire ring and detergent. As she dipped in the ring, held it front of her mouth, and breathed out slowly, a big, big bubble started to form. It glistened in the light. She watched it float into the air, her eyes drying and a smile creeping on to her face. She learned that if she blew faster she could blow a whole stream of bubbles that floated away until they popped. It was as ifshe were blowing her scary feelings away. Perhaps, ifshe'd wanted, she might have imagined the scary, hurt feelings sealed inside the bubbles, drifting across the room, away from her.

She giggled when they popped, especially when one landed on her brother's hair and sat there for a little while before bursting. Learning to control her breathing, slow or quick, short or long, she could make different bubbles: small bubbles, big bubbles, single bubbles, a stream of bubbles, and, at times, even double bubbles.

I washed away the dirt as she blew away bubbles. I bathed it in antiseptic while she blew and giggled, not realizing that she was learning how to change her feelings a little, or how to feel more comfortable than she had been. As I dried off the wound and put on the bandage she was still blowing bubbles and giggling.

Let me show you what we did. If I take this paperclip off my desk, straighten it out, then wrap it around a fat pen like this one and twist it to make a little handle, we have a bubble ring, especially for you. Shall we ask your mom to give you some dishwashing liquid in a cup, and you can show her how you can blow bubbles, too? And will you bring it back next time you come to see me? I would like to see how well you have learned to blow bubbles, too.

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