Five Tips a Child Life Specialist Teaches at a Preschool Visit



It is community leader week at my son’s preschool and I was asked to come in and talk about being a child life specialist. This is a great opportunity to educate kids on coping strategies for future medical exams.

The kids sat in their circle and were excited to see what I brought in my big bag. As I pulled out the giant stuffed monkey, doctor kit and a children’s book, big smiles came across their face along with hands in the air to share their thoughts.

I spoke about my role and the importance of going to a wellness visit. We went through all the components of a checkup and incorporated parts of the preparation book, along with medical play on Mr. Monkey.

Preschool aged kids typically focus on the shot, so I wanted to leave them with useful information that they could use in the future.

5 Tips on Receiving a Vaccination

  1. Therapeutic Position-They have a choice in the way they sit during for the procedure. Mr. Monkey did a great job demonstrating.
  2. Deep Breathing– I animated Mr. Monkey crying, jumping and trying to get away from the dreadful shot. The kids began to give their advice on helping him through it, suggesting taking deep breaths. We practiced as a group and used a pinwheel to help calm our bodies and Mr. Monkey’s.
  3. Distraction– They can choose different ways to distract their mind. Counting, deep breathing, watching, looking away or thinking of something else. The kids were great at offering ideas.
  4. Bandage Choice- They can choose to bring their own character bandage or pick what the doctor has to offer. This will give them some control in choice making.
  5. It’s Okay to Cry– The kids learned that it’s okay to shed some tears, it’s a normal reaction. I have a hard time when people say, “Big kids don’t cry”  as this is false and can them feel even more ashamed. I clearly explained that crying is accepted and way to let people know how you are feeling.

As I began to wrap up, the kids shared all of their scar stories of getting stitches, breaking bones and getting a shot.


They were all left with goodie bags that included my children’s book, It’s Time For Your Checkup: What To Expect When Going To a Doctor Visit, a pinwheel and colored bandages!

Have you thought about having a child life specialist visit your child’s school?

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