Support Groups for People with Hearing Loss – Why You Need It, How to Find It – Paula’s Pearls Syndicated Article
August 14, 2009 – 11:51 pm | 54 Comments

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Home » Current Articles, Parenting, Paula's Pearls Column, Tips, kids with hearing loss

8 Tips for Encouraging Self-Esteem in Children with Hearing Loss – Paula’s Pearls Syndicated Article

Submitted by Paula Rosenthal on August 13, 2009 – 10:19 pm19 Comments

istock_000003138127xsmallChildren 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 hearingexchange@gmail.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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19 Comments »

  • jodi says:

    Love you and your posts…consider it translated:)) Keep ‘em coming!

  • Thanks for reading! :) Send links to all Italian translated articles so I can post them at HearingExchange as well.

  • Ruchi Goyal says:

    I agree, all this and a positive attitude towards the child would give the entire family a lot of confidence in life.

  • Agreed, Ruchi. Families need to realize that deaf and hard of hearing children can accomplish whatever they want in life. Once hearing and language issues are attended to, focusing on the whole child is important to their ultimate success. By success I mean helping them to be happy, confident, productive and part of the community at large.

  • Michelle says:

    Great post, Loved it. However, no matter how much I try and tell my son Jasayvian that his hearing aids are a part of him and that he should be proud of them because they give him the opportunity to hear, he insist on hiding them with his long hair. He wants his hair shorter but he wont let us cut it. Hes 10 years old and is still having trouble accepting it. What else should i do?

  • Elizabeth says:

    Great post! I will show this to parents and teachers I work with. It is so important for children to start learning more about their hearing loss and to develop self-advocacy skills to increase their self esteem.

    Elizabeth

    http://www.hearingexchange.com/blogs/?p=428

  • Cynthia says:

    This is great reading. I have been looking for something like this to better help my 11 years child. He has had the Cochlear for about a year in half now. His speak has improved, by closing the gap with peers is still a reach. I will use these tips in the future and pass on to his teachers.

  • Erin says:

    I have an 8 year old daughter, Maggie, who was diagnosed with conductive hearing loss about a year and a half ago. Her hearing has been progressively getting worse with no explanation and we are struggling to find someone who can help us get to the bottom of what is going on. I really appreciate this article Paula. With next to little or no resources to help us as parents, we try to do our best to lift Maggie’s spirits when she is sad about having to wear a hearing aid or help her to realize that this does not define her as a person. She is the only child in her entire school who has to wear a hearing aid and makes her self conscience about it. She is bright, smart and funny and I don’t want to see her lose her spunk! Thanks again for sharing this great article!

  • Mugunthan says:

    I have a 9 year old daughter who was diagnosed with hearing impairment just 6 months ago. She cannot hear mid and high frequencies. But she is able to speak even with such high level of hearing loss. The doctors have recommended using hearing aids on both years which will amplify the mid range frequencies only. They are not sure whether it is going to help her. We have been asked to keep updates on a new technology called hybrid-cochlear implants. Meanwhile we are trying to cope with her life with hearing aids. Many times she very reluctant to wear them. Your article was use full and we hope to work on her.

  • Shelley says:

    If you have a reclulant child: my advice is to tell them why. I had a hard time too when i was growing up, but my parents alway made me wear them. Its like glasses, They may not want to wear gklasses but you make them. Tell them they can be more sussesful if they do it. Give them a goal. Thanks to my parents, I am not ashamed :)

  • This is a wonderful site! I’ve been looking for something like this
    for a while now! Thank you!
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  • Aishah says:

    Hi! I am from Malaysia and I have been looking for a site like yours for months. I have a 5 year old son who was diagnosed with bilateral profound hearing lost when he was 2. When he had the MRI Scan we found out that he has Mondini (deformity of his cochlear) and recently we found out that he has speech dyspraxsia, which makes things even more difficult. He is wearing cochlear implant on his right ear (for some reason, they do not perform operations on both ears simultaneosly). Two is always better than one. Apart from that the follow up is terrible in Malaysia.Over here they\’re so ameuterish and the follow up is as important as the operation. If it isn\’t done well, he won\’t gain much from that ear. HE is able to say a few words but it must be promted and he is very shy among strangers. Refuses to speak at all. I worry about his self esteem. His self confidence is low that he refuses to learn new things. Reading your article has given me an idea.. will see how it goes. I will not give up on him as he is very bright and his cognitive skills are very good. I somehow need to teach him to embrace his deafness and find a way to overcome it. The tools are there, he just needs to use it.

  • A child who has a mild or moderate hearing loss has to deal with most of the problems of not hearing well, and is expected to cope. Some “rights” of deafness are conferred on the deafer people, and protected jealously. The focus of education and medical systems was fatuously unaware of the problems caused by even a slight plugged ear during childhood.
    Hearing Tests

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  • Interesting article. Totally agree with treating deaf children the same as children with normal hearing.

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  • Dr Fox says:

    While encouraging self esteem in children with hearing loss, it is important to remember that patience is a virtue that parents should have as well. Teaching values like these to normal children is hard enough, and teaching them to one with slight disabilities would be even more challenging. Children, as perceptive as they are, are able to tell when we are losing our patience

  • Joseph Brown says:

    I think it is important for the child to know that despite the hearing loss he can go about his life almost normally as long as he does not withdraw from society and maintains a positive outlook. Often, it is because of their withdrawing that makes it difficult for them to fit in with their peers, and we must fix that.

  • Tulika Chatterjee says:

    This is a very good site. My 3 years old daughter recently diagonosed with bilateral moderate to moderately severe hearing loss. She coudn’t develop speech . Speech therapy is going on. She is very much reluctant to learn what speech therapist do. I want to know more about this .

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