Chances are, if you’ve never spent any time inside a Children’s Hospital, you have no idea what Child Life is or what they do. When I started my pediatric clinical, I was immediately intrigued by Child life and their work. These people work with the pediatric population to help them deal with the stress of being in the hospital. Children aren’t wired like adults (and sometimes I think we tend to treat them like tiny adults – and they aren’t!) and they can’t handle the stress of being sick or hospitalized the same way adults can. These wonderful people work with children and help them cope with their situations in a healthy way. I will never forget working through my preceptorship – and seeing the evidence of the Child Life Specialists all around me. As a nurse on the night shift, I never got to see them one on one, but their impression lingered in the patient rooms. Children with absent parents had snuggly toys and cozy blankets and notes of love drawn on their white boards. Fussy babies were left with sweet musical night lights. Nervous children had pictures hung in their rooms that they had drawn earlier in the day – proof that they had spent some time talking it out with the Child Life Specialists.
These special people use play to create and foster a less stressful environment that facilitates healing in the pediatric population!
From the Child Life Council’s website, this is their definition of a Child Life Specialist:
What is a Child Life Specialist?
Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events.
Armed with a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.
Child Life plays a vital role in any Children’s Hospital!
For more information on Child Life, visit The Child Life Council.