Pediatrics – Child Life Program
Welcome to the Child Life Program!
The Child Life Program at Boston Medical Center helps children and families manage the stresses associated with hospitalization and illness. Each child life specialist has a unique role as the member of the health care team who focuses on children's individual developmental and emotional needs.
The Child Life Team is composed of professionals with a background in child development who are trained and certified to help children and families navigate their healthcare experience. Whether a child is going to a doctor's appointment, having surgery, staying overnight in the hospital or being treated in the Emergency Department, a child life specialist is available to help alleviate the stressors associated with a child's healthcare experience.
Child Life Specialists are trained to deliver developmentally-appropriate teaching and preparation to children prior to medical procedures including, when appropriate, the reason for a procedure, the anticipated sequence of events and the physical sensations that will accompany the experience. Children who are well-prepared and know their own role tend to be more cooperative and less fearful of the procedure and medical equipment involved.
Child Life Specialists identify ways to make patients feel safe and supported during procedures they may perceive as scary or painful. Your child life specialist accomplishes this by offering choices that increase feelings of independence and control; utilizing comfort positioning, breathing and relaxation techniques; and identifying diversional activities to help children manage pain effectively.
Child Life Specialists leverage a child’s natural inclination to play in order to facilitate emotional expression and create a sense of normalcy in an unfamiliar environment. Play offers children an opportunity to explore and work through difficult experiences, and observing this play allows a Child Life Specialist to identify and address any misconceptions the child may display about his/her illness or experience. Play is among the many ways to meet the developmental needs of children while in the hospital and is integral to creating positive associations and memories of their medical experience.
Child Life Specialists have a unique role in the health care team which focuses on the complex interplay of a child’s individual social, emotional and developmental needs. By building trusting and supportive relationships with patients and their families, a child life specialist not only helps a child and family manage the stresses associated with hospitalization and illness, but also helps them to identify and reinforce the coping skills and network of support they have going forward.
Child Life Specialists provide full-time coverage to the following areas of the hospital:
Pediatric Inpatient Unit and PICU
Pediatric Emergency Department
Pediatric Primary and Specialty Care Clinics