Explosion of Feelings: Volcano Making

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As a specialist in the hospital you work with kids who can become very angry over what their experiencing or they can become incredibly withdrawn and shut down. There is a great solution to help build trust with kids and support them emotionally. The intervention that many specialists use is making volcanos with kids. As a parent or caregiver, we experience our kids going through similar situations.

There are a number of reasons why a child may display aggression or become withdrawn. Children who become a new big brother or sister, have a loss of a loved one, have been hospitalized, have experienced trauma or are just going through normal growth and development. Building the volcano is great time to have a discussion about feelings. Naming feelings and talking about what their body feels with each emotion. Giving an example of how your body feels when your upset or sad. Normalizing these emotions is also very important. You can discuss how some people keep all their feelings locked deep, down inside their body. There may be too many feelings bottled up inside for us to contain and that’s when we explode, just like a volcano. This is when the aggression, tantrums and overwhelming flood of emotions pour out. Coping strategies should also be discussed. Helping the child think of a variety of ways to express their feelings before they get to the point of explosion. Playing, drawing, writing, talking, deep breathing, whatever they choose. Help support their coping strategy by taking it a step further and providing the materials or safe area for them to express themselves. Maybe a quiet corner with books and crafts or maybe a bean bag to jump on and hit. photo-1-1

Here are the supplies that you will need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Food Coloring
  • Dixie Cup
  • Plastic/Paper Cup
  • Play dough
  • Tape
  • Plastic Table Cloth, Newspaper (something to protect the floor or table)
  • Large Paper Plate
  • Action Figures (optional)

If possible, let the child choose the color of the play dough, food coloring and action figures.

Step 1:

Tape the bottom of the dixie cup to the bottom of the large plastic cup. Place them on top of the paper plate.

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Step 2:

Using the play dough build around the paper cups and add the action figures. They can be placed inside, around, where ever the child chooses.

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Step 3:

Add food coloring to the vinegar.

Step 4:

Put some baking soda inside the dixie cup.

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Step 5:

Add the vinegar to the dixie cup and watch the volcano explode!

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Syringe Painting

When it comes to taking medication the average child isn’t too inclined to take the dose. They may feel horrible, it taste awful, they have no control in the matter and it can lead them to feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety. I know as a mother how difficult this can be. My son used to freak out, cry and refuse to take the medicine that he needed.

There are coping strategies that I used to use with the pediatric patients that I worked with in the hospital. One of which is called syringe painting. Syringe painting is a great way to help children play and express themselves through art by using a medical tool. Children can manipulate the syringe and play with it in a non-threatening way. They are able to become more comfortable with it and then begin to gain a sense of control over it.

This is also a great tool not only for children who take medication orally, but for kids who have a chronic illness such as diabetes and are faced with insulin injections. It also works well for children who receive vaccines.

What you need:

  • Paint
  • Paper/Canvas
  • Syringes
  • Plastic Medication Cups or Paper Cups
  • Basin or large sheet under the paper to protect your table or floor

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Be prepared that your child may want to do it over and over again. This is normal and actually a great sign that your child is gaining a sense of control and processing what he/she has experienced.

During the art session you can begin to have a discussion with your child in regards to taking the medicine.

  • Do they know why they have to take it?
  • Do they understand what part of their body it is helping?
  • Do they know the name of it?
  • Do they know that it’s normal to be upset over having to take it and that it’s not a punishment?

You can also begin to strategize and think of ideas on how to make it less challenging the next time they have to take it

For Oral Medication

  • Offer the child as many choices that can be fulfilled. Do they want to take it standing up or sitting down? Would they like a popsicle or a lollipop? Would they like to have a count down or just get it over with?
  • Lick a lollipop or popsicle before and after taking it. My son loves this idea and we make a fun game out of it by having him lick the popsicle until his tongue turns a different color and numbs/masks the taste of the medication.
  • If its possible and the child would like to do it, have them squirt the medicine in their mouth. You can practice with water before.

For Injections

  • Again offer the child as many choices as you can. Do they want to sit up or lie down? Do they want to watch or look away? Do they want a count down or just get it over with? Do they want to take a deep breath and pretend to blow out candles or scream as loud as they can? (I know some people don’t like the screaming but lets face it, injections don’t feel great. As a mom, I have no problem letting my son scream or cry. I encourage it, if that is what will help him get through it.)
  • Advocate for Emla numbing cream. You may need to get a prescription or ask your pediatrician to put it on at least twenty minutes before the injection.
  • Allow the child to pick out a character band-aid

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