1. Let the child speak. Let the child
speak for himself as often as possible even if their language is limited.
Be patient and listen attentively. By doing this, you are validating that
what the child wants or needs is important and that he is capable of
communicating for himself. You will also be demonstrating important skills
of attentiveness, listening and interacting.
2. Treat the child the same. Treat the deaf or hearing impaired
child the same as you would a child with normal hearing. Children are very
perceptive. Giving in to a child, pitying him or making things easier for
him can all backfire later. Never use the child’s hearing loss as an
excuse for inappropriate behavior. Other children in the family or
classroom may also become resentful for any “special” treatment that is
given to a deaf or hearing impaired child. Or, they may learn by example
and treat the child differently than their other friends and
3. Teach the child manners. Teach the child about manners and
forming friendships as early as possible. As soon as your child is able,
make sure he can properly introduce himself and be able to ask other
children, “What’s your name?” While younger peer friendships are often
comprised more of physical activities than language interaction, children
may be wary of approaching your child to play because he wears hearing
aids, has a cochlear implant or doesn’t speak as well as others. Help your
child learn how to initiate contact with other children by role modeling
and practicing often. By preparing your child, he will become comfortable
making new friends. This is an important skill that will serve him well
both personally and professionally throughout his lifetime.
4. Teach the child about hearing loss. When your child is able to
understand, explain why he wears hearing aids or a cochlear implant and
possibly an FM listening system and what these devices do for him. When a
peer inservice is done for his class or camp group, include the hearing
impaired child. Let him demonstrate the devices he uses to the other
children. Your child should feel proud of what is a necessary part of his
life. By participating in the demonstration with his peers, your child
will be setting the tone for how he expects others to treat him.
5. Discover the child’s interests and develop them. Introduce the
child to a variety of activities and find the ones he enjoys. Help him
cultivate his interests by signing him up for classes, joining clubs or
doing the activities as frequently as possible. This can be athletics,
music, dance, writing, photography, art, cooking, etc. Children’s
self-confidence soars when they learn a new skill or hobby. Both you and
your child will be proud of his accomplishments.
6. Avoid labeling. Do not use a child’s hearing loss as a
descriptive term unless it is necessary to the discussion. Some children
and their parents may be offended by having them referred to by their
physical challenge. Remember, the child is many things, not just deaf or
7. Teach the child self-acceptance. Don’t hide the hearing aids,
cochlear implant or assistive listening device. Make these devices a
natural part of the child’s daily life. It is important for both his
self-esteem as well as his hearing benefit. If you try to protect the
child by covering up his assistive devices, he will come to believe that
they should always be kept hidden and they are something to be ashamed of.
A child who cannot accept his hearing loss will encounter much more
difficult obstacles as life goes on.
8. Acknowledge both success and attempts at success. One of the
best ways to boost your child’s self-confidence is to acknowledge his
academic and social efforts whether they are successful or not. By doing
this, you are showing him that your love is unconditional and not based on
the outcome of his efforts. Motivation to try should not be inspired by
the possibility of a reward from the parent or teacher. Offer the child
praise, not money or gifts, for both his efforts and his achievements.
This way, the child will not feel that he deserves praise or love only
when he accomplishes what he set out to do.
Children with hearing loss often face many obstacles growing up. Early
development of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-acceptance are
instrumental to their success. Use these tips at home and share them with
the professionals who work with your child. Together you can ensure a
bright, confident future for your child.
J.D. is married and has three children. She, her husband and
daughter are all hearing impaired. Her sons have normal hearing. A
law school graduate, Paula is the publisher of
http://www.HearingExchange.com, an online community for people
with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard of hearing children
and professionals. She is also a writer and speaker on hearing
loss and related issues. To contact her, send an email to
© 2002-2007 Paula Rosenthal and Taylor Rose,
Inc. All rights reserved.
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