What Is Child Life?

Child life is quickly and effectively changing the way children perceive the hospital. With the implementation of child life services, patients and their families are now getting the advocacy and compassion they deserve during their time of need. Child life has recognized the needs of hospitalized children and adolescents, as well as supplied the appropriate amount of attention to the needs of the families involved. Child life goes beyond just fun and games. Child life specialists take the time to assess the needs of each patient as an individual, and then implement interventions that are developmentally appropriate and beneficial to the patients well being. Interventions may be implemented through ways of developmental play, medical play, psychological preparation, and emotional support. With the implementation of these interventions, Child Life Specialists are able to facilitate effective coping habits and adaptive behaviors through general knowledge of the hospital environment, reasons for their hospitalization, and opportunities to ask questions and get clear answers. These opportunities also help maintain individual patient’s feelings of competency and self-worth so that they are able to have a better sense of mastery.
Child life also recognizes the importance of play in the hospital setting. Children have a tendency of letting their minds run wild, and while that is, often, such an endearing and positive aspect of childhood, in a hospital setting, it can also be the creator of fear and internal stress. For this reason, child life specialists provide opportunities for play. These play opportunities may be a chance for the child life specialist to observe misunderstandings or fears that the child has about the hospital and/or their reasons for being there. Child life will then be able to address these fears or misconceptions so that the child will no longer be afraid. Play is also a chance to foster normal growth and development. Through play, children can develop cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically. Furthermore, play will bring a sense of normalcy into the hospital and children will hopefully gain comfort within their surroundings. 

Some Helpful Handouts
(Child Life Council)
(Arkansas Children's Hospital)
(Chris Evert Children's Hospital)

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