Child Life Department

The Children's Hospital is dedicated to the healing of the whole child and is focused on both the physical and psychosocial well-being of our patients.

The Child Life department recognizes that hospitalization and illness cause stress for both children and their families. Child life specialists work as part of the medical team to promote optimal child development and minimize the stress of hospitalization for families. In an effort to promote a positive learning experience for children, child life specialists facilitate coping and adjustment in circumstances that might otherwise be overwhelming.

Each child life specialist holds a bachelors and/or masters degree(s) in child development, psychology, or related areas, and is professionally certified through The Association of Child Life Professionals.

Child Life Services

  • Explanation of medical procedures in language children can understand.
  • Teaching of relaxation, distraction and coping skills before, during and after medical procedures or surgeries.
  • Coping skills education for children facing chronic illness, injury and/or death.
  • Emotional support for patients, families and siblings during stressful experiences.
  • Therapeutic play to help children express emotion, resolve distress and facilitate coping during hospitalization.
  • Opportunities for play designed to encourage development in activity areas and/or at a child's bedside.
  • Parent education regarding child development and response to hospitalization.
  • Normalization of the hospital environment through coordination of community events, parties and seasonal celebrations designed for patients and families.

Child life specialists are assigned to most patient care areas. Parents and caregivers should ask their nurse or physician for referral to a child life specialist.

Hospital Orientation for Children

In order to lessen anxiety in children prior to hospitalization, child life offers free educational sessions to prepare children and their families. This includes a tour of applicable areas, age-appropriate explanations of medical events and therapeutic/medical play for hands-on learning. Medical play includes showing children the actual equipment that will be used, such as IVs or anesthesia masks, and letting them play with it. This helps them get comfortable with the equipment and hopefully reduces anxiety. To schedule a session with a child life specialist please call the Child Life Department at 405-271-4870, ext. 2 option 4.​

Preparation for Surgery

Child life specialists are also available to prepare children and families for what to expect the day of surgery. Explanation of surgical information in language children can understand prior to surgery has shown to reduce fear and anxiety about surgery and to help children recover more quickly than those who are not given age-appropriate information. To schedule a pre-surgical tour, please call 405-271-4870, ext. 2 option 3.

Contact the Child Life Department

The Children's Hospital at OU Medicine
1200 Children’s Ave.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104
Phone: 405-271-4870
Fax: 405-271-4970

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