Silence Is Golden

A few weeks ago I got a touch of laryngitis and lost my voice. Now this wouldn’t have been much of a problem except that I had a full week of work and as my fellow child life specialists know, your voice is a very important tool in the field of child life. I use my voice to teach, to coach, and to play, just to name a few activities during my work day. How in the world was I going to get my  job done?

Interestingly enough, I found that I was able to do a substantial amount of my work without using my voice. Instead of greeting a child with a loud boisterous voice, I made eye contact and gave a big smile and wave. My usual method of singing to a crying baby was changed to a stronger focus on which strokes and pats were most soothing. As opposed to verbally coaching a teen on how to take deep breaths, I demonstrated the breathing technique until the teen caught on.

Another thing I was much more aware of during procedures was that often everyone in the room would be talking, trying to keep the patient calm. When I stopped adding my voice to the mix, the dynamic in the room changed just a little bit. There was one less voice adding to the chaos of noise and sometimes the others around me would follow my lead and quiet as well. For my Child Life Specialist readers, you’ll probably realize that this is a link to the “One Voice” principle. For those of you who don’t know the term, “One Voice” is the idea where only one voice is heard by the patient during the procedure, thereby lessening the noise in the room and decreasing stress and anxiety. Generally one person is designated as the “one voice” and everyone else does their jobs silently. The person who is the one voice can be a parent, the child life specialist, or someone else that is chosen who can coach and give positive encouragement to the patient.

In my experience I have found the “One Voice” principle to be very helpful. It decreases stimulation for patients. There’s less pressure and conflicting directions that patients receive. It is easier for the patient to be heard by family and staff. For myself as a professional, it helps me refocus back on the needs of the patient and become more in tune with the nuances that patient might be exhibiting.

I am happy to report though that my voice is back to normal, yay! Even so, I am still trying to keep some of that silence with me at work, because sometimes you need to be very quiet to hear what’s important. And let’s face it, it’s fun to play charades with kids!

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