Importance of play for young children facing illness and hospitalization: rationale, opportunities, and a case study illustration

Natalie A. Williams, Anis Ben Birk, Justin M. Petkus, Holly Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Stressors associated with illness and hospitalization can have long-term adverse effects on young children’s development and wellbeing. Professionals who work with young children appreciate the power of children’s play for their development as human beings; nonetheless, play is sometimes viewed as inappropriate or unnecessary for children in traumatic or stressful circumstances. The objective of this paper is to highlight the benefits of play for children in the context of coping with medical stressors as a tool to promote child and family resilience, adaptive coping responses, quality of life, and child development. We first review the various purposes play can serve for young children in the hospital. The impacts of hospital play for children and families and opportunities for professionals to facilitate children’s play during hospitalization are then described and illustrated through a case study portrayal of a young child coping with an inpatient admission for cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics

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