From Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work

The Adjustment

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

Phyllis Diller

Darrin was four years old. This was his first visit to the chiropractor. He was apprehensive, as most children are on their first visit to any doctor.

I learned early in my career that trying to adjust children without first gaining their confidence and trust resulted in screaming, running and bouncing off the walls. But if you gain children’s confidence and take the time to develop a good relationship, you can do anything you want, with their complete cooperation. And it only need take a few moments.

One of the techniques I find most useful is to show an interest in a child’s special toy. When you hold, touch, hug and love a favored toy, you open the door to the child’s heart. I have given thousands of chiropractic adjustments to teddy bears, fire trucks, Barbie dolls, balloons, broken toys and Darth Vaders—you name it, I’ve adjusted it.

But Darrin’s situation was different.

I had told Jean, Darrin’s mother, to bring his favorite toy with him when she came to the office, but when I asked her what it was, she said, “Oh, Dr. Stillwagon, I couldn’t bring it with me.”

“Why?” I asked.

Jean replied, “You’ll die when I tell you this, but Darrin’s favorite play toy is our upright vacuum sweeper, and I just couldn’t feel comfortable coming to the office with it.”

“Wait just a minute,” I said. I went down the hallway to the janitor’s room and got our upright vacuum cleaner. I came running down the hall with it and into the adjusting room. The look in Darrin’s eyes was enough to tell me that we were on the same wavelength, and we could very quickly become friends.

I introduced him to our vacuum cleaner, encouraging him to touch the bag and play with it while I adjusted his mother.

Our examination procedure involves the use of a hand-held, infrared scanning unit called the Derma Therm-O-Graph, which is used to monitor the patient’s progress. After completing Jean’s treatment, I took the instrument and ran the scanner the full length of the upright sweeper. I then placed the sweeper on the adjusting table and simulated a chiropractic adjustment on it.

Darrin watched my every move. I had him keep his hands on the sweeper while it was on the table. I told him that the sweeper would soon feel better.

Darrin was next. Full of confidence, he sat on the chair for the instrument scan, and fearlessly sat on the adjustment table. His confidence was complete. We had become friends, and I had adjusted my first upright vacuum cleaner!

G. Stillwagon, D.C., Ph.C.

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