Glove Monsters

There are services that carry teddy bears or other friendly objects with which to palliate their pediatric patients. I think this is a neat idea, but due to cost and infection-control issues, it’s not exactly a universal piece of equipment, so the rest of us have to make do with what we’ve got.

I started handing out glove balloon creatures a year or two back. They’re not for infants or the very young, but okay for anyone who can be trusted not to choke on a rubber glove, and I’ve always had a good response. You can make it in front of them while they watch curiously, then present it with a flourish. Click below for an ultra-high-production-value tutorial video featuring yours truly.

I always name my glove animals, and for some reason mine always end up with Hispanic names. Maybe I’m a glove racist.

One possibly surprising category of patients who may appreciate these is the older (stable, obviously) psych patient. I’ve made several of these for teenaged girls during transfers to inpatient psychiatric care for suicidal ideation, and although it didn’t cure what ailed them, it seemed to help. Thom Dick writes about telling suicidal patients, “Please don’t die.” In the same vein, a small gesture like a balloon — something they can carry with them, even if only for a while — seems to help show them that there are people in the world who do care about what happens to them. One girl, who was otherwise quiet and withdrawn, clutched hers (“Juarez,” as I recall) tightly to her chest and stridently refused to let it be taken it from her, even as she had to surrender her clothing, belt, and shoelaces. BLS care? I think so.


  1. I’ve also made towel animals and roller gauze animals for younger kids. No choking hazard and can be readily assembled with supplies at hand 🙂

  2. I’m a lifeguard at a really big theme park and I love this website–a lot of the articles, especially on the “soft side” of interacting with patients, have really stuck with me even though I’m not exactly what you’d call an advanced care provider, hah.

    I love making these for kids! They’re particularly useful in the case of lost children–I’m familiar with the “why don’t we draw a picture for mommy when she comes back?” trick, but we don’t tend to keep paper and crayons in the water park. For this, I just need my gloves and to throw a couple of Sharpies in my hip pack and I’m good to go.

    With much trial and error, I’ve actually come up with a different model using an XL glove–blow it up through the wrist, then tie it off by double-knotting the thumb and the wrist together. Then single-knot the pinky and ring fingers together. They will shrink somewhat, so gently squeeze the “body” of the glove animal to re-inflate them and make hind legs. Do the same with the middle and index fingers to make front legs. (If the legs won’t re-inflate by squeezing the body, your knot is probably too tight; redo it.)

    Ask the kid if they prefer dogs or cats, draw the face/ears/claws/tail accordingly, and you have a glove dog or cat that sits up all by itself! If it looks like the kid is going to be stuck with you for a while (far more common with lost kids in theme parks than patients in ambulances, I know), you can even make one for yourself and get some impromptu puppet theatre going.

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