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Our Programs & Services

Child life specialist smiling and talking with childOur child life specialists help your family have a positive experience during your child’s outpatient visit or hospital stay. As members of your health care team, they work directly with you and your child to reduce anxiety and stress during medical procedures or hospitalization. Our staff introduces books, toys, games and educational play activities that help your child cope with their medical care.

What is Child Life?


Child life specialists are the voice for patients while they are in the hospital. They communicate patients' individual and developmental needs, coping styles and other assessments to staff and family members.

Procedural Preparation and Support

Child life specialists help decrease stress and anxiety by providing developmentally appropriate education before procedures using pictures, books, puppets/dolls, and realistic medical equipment. We provide emotional support and teach techniques, such as deep breathing and distraction, to help your child positively cope through difficult experiences.

Please contact us if you have specific questions or concerns regarding your child coping with an upcoming procedure, surgery, or hospitalization.

Medical Play

Medical play encourages patients to express fears, discuss misconceptions and gain a sense of control and understanding about what is happening to their bodies. Through medical play with dolls and medical equipment, a child life specialist can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that patients may experience.

Non-Pharmacological Pain Management

Child life specialists are trained to provide therapeutic interventions which decrease pain and relieve stress. Relaxation techniques, guided imagery, music and distraction are utilized by our specialists to help manage pain in addition to prescribed medication.

Therapeutic Play Opportunities

Play is considered an important part of the healing process at Cardinal Glennon. Child life specialists provide opportunities for patients to gain a sense of control over their hospital experience via play. These interventions facilitate self-expression, learning, continued growth and development.

Playrooms are available on each inpatient floor, and offer age-appropriate toys, games, art, books, movies and music to help children cope with hospitalization and have the opportunity for peer interaction. Our playrooms are also utilized for regular visits from community groups such as Clowns on Call, CHAMP Pet Therapy program, and the Magic House.

Sibling Support

The hospitalization of a patient can be unexpected, traumatic and sometimes frightening for family members. In addition to providing psychosocial and developmental support to patients, the Child Life specialists also help siblings of various ages understand and cope with the hospitalization of a family member. When siblings are unable to visit, talk to a child life specialist about virtual or remote options.

Bereavement Support

Child life specialists can also provide support to siblings and family members facing a loss and help them begin the grieving process in a positive way.

Please visit our family resources page for more information about bereavement support.

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