Children today encounter a wide variety of stressful and potentially traumatic events that may overwhelm their natural ability to cope and heal. Difficult or unexpected experiences, such as; separation, divorce, a new school, being bullied, a new baby, chronic illness, hospitalization, the death of a loved one, the aftermath of violent acts or natural disasters are difficult for everyone involved.
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 and psychosocial support for families and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences.
Child life specialists use play to get to the root of children’s emotional issues and help them build long-term, positive coping strategies, help them understand difficult life events in age and language appropriate terms that caregivers often do not know how to explain and support families through challenging life circumstances.
In hospital settings and community settings, child life specialists prepare children for upcoming stressful procedures through play, preparation, education and role modeling to help give them strategies to comply with often difficult or overwhelming tasks. They are also trained with tools of therapeutic play to address emergency situations, help children understand and work through grief and loss to reduce the negative emotional effects of long-term trauma.
How can a Child Life Specialist Help?
- Ease a child’s fear and anxiety with therapeutic and recreational play activities
- Foster an environment that incorporates emotional support
- Encourage understanding and cooperation by providing non-medical preparation and support for children undergoing tests, surgeries, and other medical procedures
- Advocate for family-centered care
- Engage and energize children and families by coordinating special events, entertainment, and
- Consider the needs of siblings or other children who may also be affected by a child’s illness or trauma
- Direct pre-admission hospital tours and resources, and consultations with outpatient families
- Support families confronting grief and bereavement issues
- Provide information and resources for parents and members of the
For more information speak with Katrina DesRochers at Nuture- 905-632-5715 or visit: