Mind Empowering Techniques to improve comfort

Reframing your child’s interpretation of their discomfort.

The Metaphoric 2-Step

Step 1.

Ask your child what their pain feels like. If your child says their discomfort is like something, for example – it’s like a fire, a clamp or a shark attack, then we can use that description to solve the problem.

Step 2.

Next find out how they would deal with what they describe. They will find their own solution. For example – they can pour water on the fire, they can unscrew the clamp, they can put up some shark nets. Now ask them to close their eyes and imagine what is happening, and do you notice anything different as you think of … (their solution).

 

More examples, if your child tells you about their tummy pain and describes it like a burning fire that comes and goes, ask them what they should do to that fire, they’ll probably say pour some water on it or use a fire extinguisher. It doesn’t matter what they say as long as they have a way to deal with the fire, then encourage them to do that. “Can you close your eyes, use your imagination and pour some water on the fire and let’s see what happens?”.

If your child has trouble describing the pain, you can ask them “if it were a cartoon, what would it look like?”.

Finding the colour of comfort

Ask your child about their discomfort – does it have a colour? Then ask what colour would

they rather it be? What colour would be comfortable?

For example

If your discomfort were a colour “it’s red, a burning red”

And what colour would feel better? “blue, a nice cool blue, that’s my favourite colour”

OK – imagine the whole area changing colour, to the most soothing blue, comforting, comfort sinking in.

You can add more to this technique by finding out if the discomfort has a shape, a texture, a temperature. And you can let your child change those too. You (and your child) may be very surprised to find out how your child is thinking about their discomfort, and how they have a way to change that.

For example

Child’s description – “it’s a red colour, it’s burning. It feels like it has sharp edges and it’s hot.”

Child’s solution, or description of more comfort – “blue would be cooling and feel better, with smooth soft edges”

Parent or carer’s response – “OK, is there a material that’s blue, cool and smooth that would help? Perhaps a shiny cool material like satin or a new towel?”

Child – “Yep – a blue satin with that cool smooth feeling, like the lining around my blanket”

Carer – “OK, close your eyes and wrap your leg in that beautiful blue, cool, smooth material, and let the comfort just sink in, soothing and cooling as it sinks in, doesn’t that feel better now, as the blue, cool, smoothness sinks in.

Getting rid of discomfort

There are many ways we can give suggestions to reduce discomfort. Some are quite simple we just have to ask the child to use their imagination.

Let’s blow the discomfort away.

Start by working with your child. Take a medium breath and then purse your lips and blow out with a slow and obvious whoosh, saying “I’m going to help you blow it away, each breath in feels stronger- then breath in making it obvious. Each breath out blows a bit more pain away, I can help blow it away, you don’t have to do anything, but each breath in feels stronger, each breath out blows some discomfort away.” 3-4 or breaths, or as long as the procedure or discomfort lasts.

Banish the discomfort.

“let’s begin to send all that discomfort down to your big toe, and when it’s there you can watch it simply dripping down into the floor.

Float it away.

“why don’t we put any discomfort and any worries into a very special basket, close your eyes and just begin to stuff all that discomfort, all your worries into a basket, and when it’s full you can tie a giant helium balloon to the basket, and when you’ve tied the ribbon, watch the balloon float up, up, up and start to drift away, watch it get smaller and smaller until it simply disappears….”

You can add to all of these techniques by asking your child to describe the balloon, it’s colour, it’s size, how quickly it goes, what else is in the sky.

You may be amazed to discover how talented your child is at using their imagination.

 

Bring positive emotions and memories to help build comfort

Have you felt a bit down, sore or anxious and something has happened to make you laugh or smile, and the discomfort seems to disappear in that moment of laughter or happiness?

Talk to your child about 3 things that make them smile, laugh and feel good. And when you find those things re-live them with your child by making them come alive. Your child has an amazing imagination and will be transported to those good time by your words, your energy and your story. So, recall the day, the feelings, what made it special, who was there, what was happening, any sights, any sounds, any tastes. Make it come alive. It’s good fun and really effective. 

For example

Going on a water slide

On a warm summer day, with all your friends, running up the steps, water dripping off, waiting in the line, a bit nervous but really looking forward to that feeling of letting go, whooshing down the tube. Going so fast, around the curves, swinging up high, flying down, then splashing into the loop, jumping out, running to the steps, racing up the steps, waiting in the line and feeling so good.

Playing with your pet dog

Do you remember when George was a puppy and used to jump on your bed, and lick your face, wagging his tail. And when you throw the ball, and he just keeps bringing it back, and bringing it back, each time with that look in his eyes, his tail wagging, so happy and bouncy.

Watching your favourite movie

Remember getting comfortable on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket, with your snack getting ready to watch that really funny movie…

Other examples to get you started…

  • Riding your bike
  • Jumping on the trampoline
  • Going for a walk
  • Swimming in the sea
  • Eating your favourite food
  • Making a lego rocket ship
  • Going to the zoo