Quote of the page:
|"After 3 1/2 days of intense
workshops, this presentation was immense fun - great way to end a
- Linda DeBanis, Staten Island, NY
This article was written by Bonnie Akerson and BJ Hickman and was
published in The Dental Assistant, the Journal of The American Dental
Relaxing Child Patients is a
The use of Humor to ease stress and to
address illness was first documented in Biblical times and has been
periodically used by healthcare professionals periodically for
centuries. Most parents understand the importance of humor in the lives
of children and encourage them to partake in various activities bringing
more of it into their lives. These activities include attending
carnivals, hiring clowns and magicians for parties, watching silly
cartoons, or reading books that put smiles on a child's face. On the
medical front, since the 1930s, hospitals have been inviting clowns and
other performers to children's wards, bringing needed smiles and joy to
the ill. The gift of humor doesn't have to end there. In fact, it should
become a regular part of the treatment of children by healthcare
The reasons to bring humor into the healthcare profession are unlimited,
but below are a few documented reasons.
1) When it comes to children, humor is also a powerful tool. It relieves
tension and fear of doctors, and it gives children a feeling of control
over their environment . Acts as simple as providing small toys for
them, tickling them, or playing peek-a-boo can reduce children's
uncertainty about the doctor visit and their own vulnerability to
disease or pain. Older children like slapstick humor such as running
into curtains or playing around with medical tools .
2) Humor helps to distract the patient from physical pain, if even for a
brief period of time . But humor should never be forced onto the
patient . Moreover, patients themselves also use humor to ease their
situations. By making fun of doctors and their own conditions, they
"transform individual complaints into group pleasure," and create a more
enjoyable social atmosphere in which healing is better supported .
3) Thirdly humor is thought to enhance health is by reducing stress .
This mechanism thus presents humor as an indirect means of improving
one's health. Because stress has been shown to produce adverse effects
on the body, such as increasing one's risk of infectious disease,
anything that can work to reduce it, like humor, will work to counteract
these negative effects [2,3].
Magic tricks, puzzles, and other diversions have been effectively used
by adults who want to improve communication with children for many
years. Magic is fascinating for young and old and a simple magic trick
will demand young patients' attention, relax them, and capture their
imagination. The effectiveness of magical diversions has withstood the
test of time and has been used successfully by a countless number of
inventive teachers, productive pediatricians, clever cruise ship staff,
and professional entertainers. Although I have been using the tricks I
share for years in my magic shows, school enrichment programs,
workshops, and speaking engagements, they are far from "trade secrets."
As you study the magic trick described here you might want to keep in
mind a few magicians' rules that make magic more enjoyable and
effective. Here are five principles:
1. Can you keep a secret? Where there's magic involved, please don't
make it too easy for your spectator to know how it worked. Keep them
guessing. It's more enjoyable for everyone that way. They will find out
on their own if they are interested enough.
2. Practice, practice, practice. If you read the instructions to a magic
trick and go right out and show someone, chances are it won't work,
you'll forget something, or you will get caught. That's a quick way to
lose interest. Try it a few times so you remember what to do, what to
say, and the angles to watch out for. You can always practice in front
of a mirror to see yourself as others do.
3. Once is enough. There are exceptions, but generally it's best not to
repeat a trick right away to the same audience. If they see it again,
they will know what to look for and be more likely to figure out the
method. Also, don't tell them what is going to happen. Instead, add the
element of surprise.
4. Pitter-patter. Magicians call their stories or what they say while
they are doing a trick their "patter." Your patter when showing young
children these tricks and diversions can make all the difference. You
can change lives! If you are believable and original with your patter,
you can create wonder, put a child on the right track, divert his or her
attention, make them laugh, or put them at ease. You can easily draw out
their wishes and dreams, and then reinforce or motivate them
immediately. It will give you a power you never knew you had.
5. Consider your audience and involve them in your effects. Allow them
to participate by shuffling the deck or examining props. Use your talent
to interact with people, not just display your cleverness without
A good place to start is with a magic wand. Hand a magic wand to a child
and they go to work. They know what to do. They wave it, gently touch
things with it, and slowly iterate a magic word. Their imagination goes
wild. It makes no difference that the wand doesn't seem to do anything.
It's magic. Now put that same wand in the hands of an adult. A child
can't wait to see what is going to happen. They think you must know
magic. They wonder! Just the sight of the magic wand wins their
attention. Now you go to work. You show them a trick or two and they
want to see it again. They want to hold it. They want to try it.
Your wand can be a traditional store bought black wand with white tips
(available from the author), home-made from a cardboard tube from a coat
hanger, a wooden dowel, or your own magical hand crafted contraption.
Health care professionals, how about a hand painted tongue depressor?
Now what do you do with it?
Elementary school teachers can use it to have a child point to states on
a map. Pre-school teachers can use it to point to colors in a room.
Doctors and nurses can use it to have the child show where it hurts.
Anyone can use it to entertain or divert the attention of a child.
Here is a magic trick that children love. They will want to see you "do
it again," and they will want to try it. This trick is truly basic.
Unlike most magic tricks, this can be eventually taught to the child.
They will be so proud of themselves when they make it work. Then they
can't wait to show it to somebody.
This is the "wand suspension" in which the wand seems to cling to your
hand as if by magic. You can suggest that it's "static cling," magical
magnetism, or merely unexplainable. Hold the wand in your left clenched
fist with the back of your hand toward your audience. Your right hand
holds your left wrist to "steady your arm." You slowly open the clenched
fist, spread your fingers, and the wand seems to cling to your hand
without any visible support. The photos below show the secret. It's the
right hand forefinger that secretly holds the wand in place.
Try your new magic trick. You'll be amazed at the magical power it has
on a child.
1. Bennett HJ. Humor in Medicine. Southern Medical Journal. December,
2. Martin RA. Humor, Laughter, and Physical Health: Methodological
Issues and Research Findings. Psychological Bulletin. July,
3. Seaward, LB. Humor's Healing Potential: Laughter Provides Emotional
and Physiological Benefits to Patients and Care Givers Alike. Health
Progress. April, 1992;73(3):66-70.
|In addition to the tips and magic
trick in the "Relaxing Child Patients" article, BJ Hickman
recommends several other tricks, curiosities and diversions in his
Diversion ideas can
- Your own "trinket" collection.
- A magic or joke shop.
- Old fashioned toy store.
- Science store.
- Dollar store.
- Second hand shop.
Children love stories. Imagine their curiosity if
you show them your first toy, a piece of jewelry, puzzle, or puppet
while you explain your twist as to what makes it special.