March is Child Life Month

By The Child Life Team
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

The month of March is set aside to celebrate children and the profession of child life specialists who are dedicated to providing positive coping tools to support your child. To celebrate child life month, our team of child life specialists will share a few helpful tips to help your child cope well with their hospital experiences.

If we’re being honest, nobody likes to be surprised by medical procedures. Whether it’s a blood draw or radiology exam, we all tend to cope better when we are prepared with information about what to expect for the procedure. Children are no different; they need age appropriate information regarding what they will encounter. At The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, our team of child life specialists work closely with other medical staff to make sure your child has access to the tools and resources they need to have a positive coping experience.

Child life specialists advocate for proper preparation and teaching because stress and coping theories tell us that children tend to cope well when they are given appropriate information regarding a potentially stressful event. According to these theories, our minds evaluate a potential experience based on two assessments: 1) the perceived threat of the stress, and 2) the access to resources to minimize or address the stressor (Lazarus & Faulkman, 1984). Child life specialists believe in addressing both factors to reduce stress and improve the overall coping experience.

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Child life specialists help children cope

Sarah Sims, MS, CCLS
Child Life Specialist, Emergency Department 
The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

“Play is the work of the child.” –Maria Montessori

Hospitalization experiences can be scary and overwhelming for children and families. At The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, our goal is to provide excellent, quality care and an overall positive experience. That is why child life specialists are an important and integral part of our health care team. Child life specialists are professionals trained in child development and family theory. The child life team contributes to the patient and families’ plan of care to improve the hospital experience and promote positive coping.

Background Child life specialists have Bachelor’s and/or Master’s level training; this educational background prepares the child life specialist to assess psychosocial coping and provide meaningful and developmentally appropriate support. For example, a child life specialist can prepare you and your child for an MRI and offer coaching to help your child cope with the procedure. A child life specialist can provide developmentally appropriate diagnosis education for child and the whole family when the child has received a new diagnosis. A child life specialist can establish therapeutic relationships with patients and caregivers to support family participation in their child’s care during a prolonged stay for rehabilitation. These are just a few examples of the ways child life specialists work to help children cope with their health care experience.

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