In celebration of Child Life Month we thought it would be fun to ask another healthcare professional what child life means to them. Pediatrician Arash Babaoff has extensive experience working alongside child life specialists across a variety of settings and throughout the world. He is a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Medical Director of Yanez Barragan Ecuador Project, and a member of the Pediatric Board and Quality Assurance Task Force with Operation Smile International as well as member of our Advisory Council.
So, Arash, tell us what you think about child life specialists!
Child Life is in every sense of the word a “specialty.” Oh, let me count the ways in which you are specialists…
You are supporters — you come and meet the child at their level and on their terms, allowing the child to feel a degree of control/strength/support in an unfamiliar and often scary environment.
You are child development specialists — translators/portals of understanding — communicating and facilitating communication and relationships with children for other specialists on a team– you know them and speak their language.
You are educators — introducing and teaching them about a new world (often an adult one) in which they will be interacting.
You are the “environment specialists” — molding the physical environment to one in which children and their families can enjoy and feel comfortable.
You are the ” context specialists” — molding the mental environment – creating the setting such that it can be understandable/comfortable at their level and as much as possible on their own terms.
You are family specialists — understanding the family dynamic- supporting and bringing families to understanding a new and often scary setting.
You are advocates — for the children and their families.
You are playmates — creating fun and laughter- alleviating anxiety and minimizing pain.
You are empathy incarnate.
This is how I view child life specialists…I rely on you and I’m thankful to have you as my partners and teammates in caring for children and their families.