Department of Pediatrics: 201-894-3158
Child Life Program: 201-894-3635
Everyone experiences anxiety and stress prior to hospitalization or medical procedures, and for children, the fear can be particularly acute. It is therefore extremely important to explain all events and sensations a child will experience during his or her stay. This includes everything from hospital tour to preparing a child for an IV insertion to allowing them to touch all the medical equipment they will encounter. By reducing unexpected encounters, a child's fear can be significantly minimized. This preparation often relieves parents' anxieties as well, enabling them to be a better comfort to their child.
Pre-operative preparation conferences and tours, conducted by our Child Life Specialist, in the secure setting of our pediatric playroom. Click here for more info.
Parents and children are shown photographs to familiarize them with our hospital environment, equipment and procedures. Tours of the pediatric facility are also given so that everything from pre-operative procedures to recovery will be familiar before surgery.
To increase a child's comfort, the Pediatric environment is equipped with additional play activities that are designed to accommodate all age groups. These include toys for imaginary play, arts and crafts, story hours, music and video games, as well as a wide range of playroom and bedside ventures.
To ensure a familiar, relaxed atmosphere before and after surgery, children are encouraged to bring comforting objects from home. A familiar stuffed animal or toy can be brought to the surgical suite as a comfort during the induction of anesthesia. Following surgery, the toy is brought to the Recovery Room, where it serves as a familiar sign of home when they awake.
Since children learn about their surroundings and how to overcome vulnerability through play, our Child Life Specialist utilizes play and other activities to encourage expression of feelings and to promote a child's sense of mastery over a seemingly uncontrollable situation.
Our Child Life Specialist interacts with children in age-appropriate language and offers educational and emotional support. This often helps turn a child's hospital stay from an ordeal into a positive growth experience.
Recognizing the need for a "safe haven" in a hospital setting, no tests or treatments are performed at the child's bedside. The patient room is reserved as the safe place, creating the secure environment that helps a child better cope.
Maintaining a child's relationship with parents and other family members is an integral part of our program. Our Child Life Specialist works closely with siblings to determine if they are experiencing any emotional trauma of their own and then helps them cope.
To extend additional support to parents, who often experience conflict over dividing attention between their ill child and other children at home, the Child Life Program offers support groups within the Department of Pediatrics. Here, families have the opportunity to voice their concerns and needs with professionals who can help them cope with their stress.
To acquaint children and community groups with our Program, our Child Life Specialist lectures at schools and community organizations that are involved with activities for children.