Interview with Vidhi Desai (Dance Movement Therapist)

Behavioural changes during COVID times

The behavioral problems that kids face these days are aggression, emotional outbursts, and many of these problems are since they are stuck in their houses, not able to do what they want to do. When the Cancer Treatment is going on, they have a lot of emotional turmoil that they carry, and COVID-19 has added more emotional turmoil. So having an open conversation with your kids helps a lot. Kids will understand because after the age of three, they start understanding a lot of verbal communication. Therefore, we should put it into practice. We can have play cards, story cards, and the way you communicate will help to build a bond with your kid. If the kids are a bit older, they start to understand the reality. For example- you can say to kids that there are many big mosquitoes so you cannot go out, and it is very simple to explain them this way.

Engaging activities for kids during COVID

Indoor games are one of the things that can be done. Nowadays, many board games have turned up; but it’s not essential to spend a lot of money on them. We can create some games at our home by simply taking an A4 size sheet and using colors. Sometimes even creating these games with our kids is fun. You can engage the kids in art and ask them to draw whatever they want because not every instruction is needed.

De-stressing kids undergoing cancer treatment

For kids, all the artwork and other activities can do wonders. Kids undergoing Cancer Treatment have lots of burdens, so we can engage them in art or board games. They have physical restrictions, they cannot do a lot of movements, so there is a lot of play meditation that we do. We can make them imagine like they have paint in their hand and then give them instructions to paint their body or do anything. This can be a very slow activity to make them mindful.

Dance movement therapy for kids

Dance movement is to do with a lot of awareness with the sensory motors and everything. It helps the kids have balance and emotional control because when they are very angry, upset, or sad, some days they feel okay and some days their energy will be low. So dance movement therapy allows them to move slowly from wherever they are, sit or shake. It need not be a lot of movement and can be subtle movements like eye movements or face movements. It is about enhancing the awareness of their own body, and they can also express themselves through this. Dance movement therapy helps release stress, bring more awareness, understand ourselves, and communicate better.

How to make kids follow restrictions?

We can set boundaries with them. Parents have a hard time making them understand and have repeated arguments because the kids do not listen. There can be support groups where we can say that even XYZ person is going through, and we have to deal with it because we don’t have any option, so if you want to recover fast, then you have to do this. We can set a rule book for them and explain to them that if they follow the restrictions for one month, they can have a one bite of what they like at the end of the month. We have to creatively engage the kids and make them understand. We do not always need to indulge in food but can use anything that they like.

Heart-touching experience with kids

There are lots of experiences that have touched my heart, and one of them is about the story of an injection. I am very scared of injections. Once, when I was sitting with kids in a circle and sharing our secrets, I told the kids that I was very scared of injections. One kid asked me why to be scared of injections since once you take it, it won’t scare you anymore, and you can freely go to take your injections. This kid was not even eight years old, and I realized that there is so much to learn from them.

What we can learn from kids

There are many things that we can learn from kids. The honesty with which they share, their spontaneity, and they don’t think much before answering. I personally learned the spontaneous attitude from the kids.

The trauma of childhood cancer

Often, healing can take 2-3 years, and dance movement therapy helps a lot in healing from these traumatic experiences. So while the kids are going through something, we can engage them in subtle creative movements, dance movement therapy, storytelling, and art-based therapies. Basically, if we give them a platform to perform, express, and share, then the chances of traumatic experiences staying within their body are less.

Inspiration to become a dance movement therapist

I did my post-graduation in counseling, and I love listening to people. When I was doing my graduation, my mom always told me that you have so many friends you listen to most of the time. I didn’t even know what psychology was at that time, but then I studied it and spoke to my counselor who helped me understand my behavior and how it can help more people. I attended a friend’s session who was taking a dance movement therapy session, and that inspired me to attend the dance movement therapy course. I believe that being a Dance Movement Therapy practitioner is the best decision of my life.

Guilt in kids due to cancer

If the mother or father is upset, then the kid get it immediately. I tell parents that they need to be strong because the kid knows what you are going through. Parents can go to the counselor, can talk to anyone they feel free with because healing starts when you talk and express. It is the parents’ journey to become more aware of what the kids are going through and understand their Pain. It’s important for parents to take a break, restore, and then begin again. Open communication is one of the biggest healing methods, so parents can tell the kids that they care for them, which is why they are concerned about them.

Message for cancer kids and their parents

For kids- Just be yourself as you are and keep spreading the love because your energy is very infectious. For parents- Please don’t take the blame on yourself because it’s not your fault. Whatever has happened has happened but let’s try how you can take care of yourself in this journey so that you can take care of your kids too.

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