Child life services - Patient parent information

Hospitalization, medical procedures, illness and pain are often fearful for children of all ages. Medical City Children's Hospital provides support and assistance to help patients and their families deal with these stresses through Child Life Services, which are offered at no additional charge.

Child Life Services is dedicated to reducing the impact of traumatic life events and situations on children and their families. The team leader is a Child Life Specialist with expertise in normal childhood development and how to address the specific issues children face in medical settings. Child Life Assistants and volunteers support and extend the work of the Child Life Specialist.

The Child Life team embraces the value of play as a means of healing. We work to help your child continue normal growth and development throughout the hospital experience and once back home.

When children know what's going to happen to them in the hospital, they're better able to handle the experience. In collaboration with parents and healthcare professionals, we incorporate hands-on use of play materials and actual medical equipment to help children understand what to expect when they undergo surgery and medical procedures. Medical play also is an opportunity for Child Life Specialists to clear up any misconceptions a child may have.

Common reasons kids go to the ER

How can a child life specialist help in the ER?

Watch our how to prepare for an MRI video at Medical City Children's Hospital.

Playrooms and teen rooms

Child Life Services also operates our playrooms and teen rooms, which provide kids of all ages with a break from the hospital routine. The rooms are places just to have fun, a safe haven from medical procedures and the stress of hospitalization. Playrooms offer planned activities and free play. Teen rooms (for patients 12 years and older) offer games, computers and music to provide older kids respite and relaxation.

Note that playrooms and teen rooms are for patients only and that children must have the appropriate wristbands to play in them. Although visitors may not play in the rooms, they can borrow games and toys to bring back to a patient's room.

Food and beverages are not allowed in the playrooms and teen rooms. Additionally, patients must wear shoes or socks. Finally, note that children in the playrooms must be supervised by an adult caregiver.

Support services

Child Life Services also tends to the needs of each child's family through educational and support services, including:

  • Sibling support, to help them understand a brother's or sister's illness
  • Special events and holiday celebrations
  • Sibling preparation for visitation to the pediatric intensive care unit
  • Child development information and programming
  • Classroom visits to explain health care or a classmate's illness
  • Support or distraction for patients undergoing anxiety-provoking procedures
  • Pet therapy, which includes weekly visits by dogs, and music therapy

Tips for preparing your child for surgery

To help children know what to expect when they come to Medical City Children's Hospital, Child Life Services has prepared the following PDFs that parents can download and use:

Learn more about surgery at Medical City Children's Hospital.