Overview

Child life specialists support to children and families during medical experiences.

Trained in child development, child life specialists provide age-appropriate support to children and families during medical experiences. The Child Life Program at Mayo Clinic's Children's Center strives to:

  • Minimize the stress and anxiety of the medical environment for children, teens and their families
  • Encourage understanding and increase familiarity by preparing children and families for their medical experiences
  • Support parents and other caregivers, and encourage their participation as part of their child's health care team
  • Recognize the needs of siblings or other children who may also be affected by a child's illness or trauma
  • Help children and families maintain their normal everyday experiences and stay connected

Helping your child cope during medical procedures

Services

At Mayo Clinic, child life specialists work alongside the health care team to provide a unique, child-friendly approach, tailored to the needs of your child and family. Services and opportunities include:

  • Play and expressive activities that keep children and families engaged. Child life specialists encourage children to process their experiences through play, discussion, arts, crafts, music and other forms of expression.
  • Preparation for tests, surgeries and other medical procedures that can create anxiety. Child life specialists use age-appropriate language, visual aids, medical play and real medical equipment, as well as other teaching materials to reduce stress and help children understand what to expect.
  • Coping and support strategies for children and their families. This includes, for example, the use of comfort positions and relaxed breathing exercises, as well as providing diversion and support during medical procedures.
Child life specialists encourage children through play.

Tips and tools for parents and other caregivers

Consider these suggestions to improve comfort and coping during your child's health care experience:

For more information

For questions or to request child life services, contact any member of your health care team or call 507-255-4091 or email childlife@mayo.edu.

To make a donation

Donations to the Mayo Clinic Children's Center are always welcome and greatly appreciated. Please email childlife@mayo.edu with your interest and include as many specifics as possible about your donation. Please note:

  • Donated toys, games, puzzles, books and stuffed animals need to be new, unused and recently purchased. For suggestions, view Mayo Clinic's Child Life Program Wish List.
  • Handmade items — such as quilts, hats and scarves — need to be made with new fabrics, yarns or other new materials.

To make a tax-deductible financial gift to Mayo Clinic, please see:

Child life specialist internship

Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences offers a 640-hour internship in child life at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. This internship meets the requirements for those students who wish to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Learn more about the child life specialist internship in Minnesota.