By Shira Miller
Being in the hospital is hard. It can be especially hard on sick children and their families. Kids often are frightened about what’s going to happen to them, unable to fully understand their diagnoses, and in a strange, unfamiliar surroundings away from family and friends.
In addition, hospitalization can cause children to fall behind in school, feel isolated, become more dependent on their parents and miss social opportunities. These issues in turn can jeopardize a child’s physical, emotional and intellectual growth.
The Child Life Services program at Rush — like similar programs at other hospitals — helps children and families cope with the stress of health care experiences. March is Child Life Month, a time to celebrate child life professionals and educate people about their work.
Promoting development, providing reassurance
Child life specialists are experts in child development who work in the hospital setting. Through preparation, education, advocacy, emotional support, play and self-expression activities, their work encourages the optimal development of children facing a broad range of challenges, particularly those related to illness and hospitalization.