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Thinking of the heart as a house: creative concepts for children to understand their "heart house"

Austin E. Wilmot, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.


Using everyday common things or concepts to help illustrate heart function might be just the kind of simplification that a child trying to make meaning of their CHD needs. Children's Heart Institute (CHI) in McLean, VA, makes use of the metaphor of the heart as a house in a wonderful fashion that could be adapted to your particular child's condition.



https://www.childrensheartinstitute.org/services/heart/ - the Children's Heart Institute (McLean, VA)


CHI uses the metaphor of a normal heart having:

  • 4 Rooms (Chambers)

  • 4 Doors (Valves)

  • 4 Big Hallways (Vessels)

  • 4 Small Hallways (Vessels)

They go on to "explore what can go wrong with the house. A child could be born with several defects (abnormalities) involving the various parts of the heart house" (CHI, link above; image from their page).


Check out how CHI goes on to make use of the house metaphor through problems with the walls, problems involving more than one part of the house, problems with the chambers/rooms, the plumbing and doors. See how you can use this, perhaps in a drawing activity with your child. Maybe you'll find it helps you, too! If you'd like to share about how this particular metaphor goes with your child (or any artwork!), feel free to send along and your feedback can be added to this article.

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