8 Tips for Encouraging Self-Esteem in Children with Hearing Loss – Paula’s Pearls Syndicated Article
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 and confident future for your child.
1. Let the child speak. Let the child speak for himself as often as possible even if his 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,’s demands, pitying him or making things easier for him can all backfire later on. 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 given to a deaf or hearing impaired child. Or, they may learn by example and treat the child differently than their other friends and acquaintances.
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 early peer friendships are typically 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 perhaps doesn’t speak as well as other children. Help your child learn how to initiate contact with peers by role modeling and practice this skill often. By preparing your child, he will become more comfortable at making new friends. This is an important social 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. A peer inservice should be conducted for his school class or camp group. Be sure to include the child. Let him demonstrate the devices he uses and use simple language to teach the other children about them. Allow the children to ask questions to satisfy their curiosity. Your child should feel proud of what is a necessary part of his life. By participating in the demonstration and talking easily about his hearing loss 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. A child’s self-confidence will soar when he learns a new skill or develops a 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 the child referred to by their physical challenge. Remember, the child should not be defined by his hearing loss. Hearing loss is not a limitation, it is just one of many attributes a child has.
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 hearing and assistive devices, he will come to believe that they should always be kept hidden and they are something to be ashamed of. Rather than protecting him, you will be causing harm. 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.
Parents raising children with hearing loss and teachers and professionals who work with them have an important job. Use these tips to help the children develop the confidence and self-esteem they need to accomplish whatever it is they want to do. Having a hearing loss is not a barrier or limitation, it is a single facet in what can be a brilliant and successful life.
Paula Rosenthal, J.D. is married and has three children. Paula, her husband and daughter all have hearing loss. A law school graduate, Paula has published www.HearingExchange.com, an online blog and resource site for people with hearing loss, their families and professionals since 2000. She is also a syndicated writer and a public speaker on hearing loss, parenting and related issues. She and her daughter were featured on “Back to the Hearing World,” an informational DVD directed by Academy Award nominee® Josh Aronson, for Cochlear Americas. Her daughter recently won a video contest promoting Better Speech and Hearing Month sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. To contact Paula, send an email to her at email@example.com.
© 2009 Paula Rosenthal and Taylor Rose, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article is one of many in the Paula’s Pearls group of syndicated content from HearingExchange. It may be reproduced under certain conditions. Email Paula for further information.
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