Moment By Moment: The Life Of a Child Life Specialist
A front row seat in the lives of so many kids stay at Cook Children's
Life is made up of lots of small moments (like when a kangaroo comes to visit). Working at Cook Children's as a child life specialist I get a front row seat to some of the biggest moments in the lives of many children.
As a child life specialist my job is help provide normalization during stressful and traumatic medical experiences. We educate, prepare and support children through tests and procedures, as well as coping with any life challenges children and their families face.
Somedays are full of amazing moments, like sending patients home after a long stay, or watching a hospital therapy dog light up a room.
But sometimes life is full of hard moments; moments that feel like mountains that kids can’t ever imagine overcoming. My job as a child life specialist gives me the opportunity to help families during those hard moments.
Sometimes it is giving a small child, afraid of the hospital and the people in it, the chance to play in the midst of all the new things happening around them.
Other times it's being there when a patient needs a poke, to help them learn coping skills that will help them right then, as well as in the future. One of my favorite moments was witnessing a 4 year old exclaim, “That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be!” after getting a poke he had been very nervous about. Through preparation in terms he could understand and support using distraction, he was able to feel successful in the moment and hopefully be a little less nervous in the future.
From time to time my job includes supporting kids and their families when they get difficult news they didn't want to hear. Sometimes that looks like providing a developmentally appropriate explanation of a new diagnosis to a patient and their siblings, or standing at a parent's side to help them explain things that feel too heavy to find the words for on their own.
Every day is different and not every moment is full of bubbles and sunshine, but I feel so lucky to work as a child life specialist. It is an honor to walk alongside kids and their families during hard moments and so encouraging to celebrate with them during the good ones.
About the author
Zoe Growald is a Child Life specialist at Cook Children's on 4P and the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. Our Child Life specialist work with kids and families to make their visit to the medical center easier and more comfortable. Our Child Life specialists offer your child and your family an opportunity to express and work through any fears and concerns you may have. We’ll provide an explanation about what’s going to happen during your visit and work with parents, brothers and sisters and other family members who may be involved in your child’s daily care. As a part of our commitment to family-centered care, Child Life specialists work with your child's medical team to advocate for and ensure your child’s and your family's needs are addressed in the most nurturing atmosphere possible. Click to learn more.
especially my sweet granddaughter, Anne Stankus.
Thanks to each of you for your help and understanding when times are hard for the child and their parents.