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Top Tips for Play and Distraction


Next up in our DFTB Top Tips series is a set of helpful ideas for improving play and helping distract your patients from painful procedures. A special thanks to Janie Saunders for helping share her wisdom from many years working as a play specialist.

  1. Play is a tool that opens doors and is a universal language.
  2. Always address the child or young person first (not their parents). Treat them as the individuals that they are.
  3. Do not lie – Say what you are going to do. Do it.
  4. Every age needs distraction no matter how old!
  5. A smile is always good. Consider how you can show children your calmness and gentleness. If they trust you, it will be easier to examine them and perform procedures.
  6. Remember that no one is ever too big to be scared.
  7. Consider play specialists for bereavement talks
  8. Take your time to talk to them.
  9. If something doesn’t work – try something else! Keep trying; it really makes a difference
  10. Toys are your friend – there are plenty of different toys to choose from – bubbles, talking, iPads, noisy books, lighting up toys, cause and effect toys, books, finding games, sensory toys, cards, and ‘Where’s Wally’ and ‘I Spy’ books.

What are some of your top tips for play and distraction? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

For your convenience or as a handy reminder for your workplace, the top tips are highlighted in an A4 poster below (infographic design by Kat Priddis @kls_kat & Grace Leo @gracie_leo):

In infographic reminding us all of how the power of play


  • Ana Waddington is a senior Nurse (Sister) in paediatric emergency and trauma care at London’s largest trauma centre, with a specialised interest in severe youth violence in London. Founder of YourStance - save a life, don’t take a life, small project teaching basic life support and haemorrhage control to young offenders in prisons across London. Prior to training as a nurse, her specialist interest in adolescent care was nurtured from working in adolescent oncology and refugee work. From Spain, United Kingdom and Chile, Ana is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian, having been brought up in various countries around the world.


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