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Play allows children the opportunity to learn. In play, children find a safe and comfortable way to cope with what they are experiencing. Play helps children stabilize their heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. While play works as an effective educational tool, it also provides a distraction from pain and discomfort.

The playroom, Castle Roundtree, and patient bedsides provide the environments for play. Activities may include exploration of medical supplies, the creative use of art, and normal recreational experiences. These interactions build understanding, dispel myths, enhance self-esteem, and encourage expression.

Developmental Support

Understanding the developmental issues of each child is critical to helping patients and their families emotionally adjust to medical care. Developmental support services help children cope with their anxiety and fear. Worry and concern about medical care may be accompanied with unusual reactions. The Child Life Specialist uses a developmental framework to establish treatment plans that are sensitive to a child's wellbeing. For information on common developmental issues and how to provide support, contact us.


With notice, Child Life can educate children about upcoming medical procedures. Learning activities assist children in realizing their own potential to cope. Adaptive education on building coping skills is featured. Sensory stimulation, imagery, and diversion techniques are offered during presentations. All education is individually tailored and developmentally appropriate. Sample preparations may include laboratory tests, radiological procedures, and surgery.

Emotional and Social Support

Seeing illness or injury through a child's eyes...

Ill children may use the following phrases to describe how they feel:

  • "I don't feel good."
  • "I have to go the bathroom all the time."
  • "My body won't work right."
  • "What is that smell?"
  • "I hurt!"
  • "I'm sad."
  • "I'm lonely."
  • "The kids will think I am ugly."
  • "I'm scared."

Approaching children from their own unique perspectives provides the basis for supportive Child Life care. Child Life helps children relate what they know to what is happening to them. Activities that assist children in gaining a sense of control may consist of patient escort during procedures, family advocacy, and group interactions.

Bereavement support

Having a child with a terminal illness can be very emotional and overwhelming for the entire family. If the patient is hospitalized, the child life specialist will meet with each family to assess their needs. The child life specialist is specially trained to talk with the patients and/or siblings about death and dying using age and developmentally appropriate information and explanations and a variety of resources that help the patient and family through this very difficult time. For children of adult patients, the role of the child life specialist to prepare the child for visitation, offering opportunities for questions to be asked and for answers to be provided in order to prevent misunderstanding and to alleviate misconceptions related to death and dying.

Bereavement interventions include:

  • Handprints
  • Footprints
  • Bereavement/Memory Box
  • Memory Bracelet
  • Worry Stone
  • Expressive Poetry