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Supporting your child's wellbeing

Photo: Encourage your child in their educational and recreational pursuits

Deaf children and emotional wellbeing

A deaf child with good mental health and emotional wellbeing:

  • feels good about themselves
  • has an appropriate level of independence and feels able to influence the world around them
  • is confident in trying new things
  • has positive and warm relationships with others
  • is resilient and able to bounce back from setbacks and move on from negative experiences
  • has the language and communication skills to be able to express and understand emotions, emotional health and wellbeing of themselves and others
  • acknowledges their deafness and is confident in dealing with any challenges they may face
  • never apologises for being deaf.

Signs and symptoms of low mood and depression in children include:

  • irritability or anger
  • continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • social withdrawal
  • increased sensitivity to rejection
  • changes in appetite – either increased or decreased
  • changes in sleep – sleeplessness or excessive sleep
  • vocal outbursts or crying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue and low energy
  • physical complaints (such as stomach aches, headaches, sickness) that don't respond to treatment
  • reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • impaired thinking or concentration
  • thoughts of death or suicide.

Children may not show all the signs above, but if you’re concerned it’s important you communicate with your child and if your concerns continue then speak to their Teacher of the Deaf, GP or other professionals working with your child. 

How to reinforce emotional wellbeing in your child

It starts with you…

Young children look to their parents as leaders and guides, and will often mimic their attitudes and behaviours. To ensure your child grows to have a well-rounded sense of who they are and what they can achieve in life, it’s important you embody positive characteristics yourself.

If you, or your partner, has depression, low self-esteem, anger issues or another condition (or behavioural characteristic) that negatively affects you, it may be worth seeing your GP to  explore therapy options, or taking a course on positive self-image.  Children who have parents with mental health problems are at significantly greater risk of developing problems themselves.

It’s also important that you’re a role model, demonstrating your own individuality and positive relationships with those around you. This means enjoying a romantic evening with your partner, having your own time with friends, having open honest communication with family members and treating yourself to periods of self-care and relaxation. You deserve it!

Nurturing your child…

There are many things you can do to nurture the emotional health and wellbeing of your deaf child, and other children in your household. Here are a few suggestions:

It’s important to spend quality time together as a family, and as individuals, to strengthen bonds. If your child is very young, play is important to help them explore their emotions and it’s also a lot of fun!

It’s especially important for your child to be active. This could include enrolling them in a swimming club or football club and you can do healthy activities together. This will keep them emotionally and physically healthy and help them build a wider circle of friends.

Depending on whether your child has an additional need, try and treat your deaf child the same as their hearing brothers or sisters. Wrapping your child in cotton wool may hamper their independence or create tension between siblings.

Encourage your child in their educational and recreational pursuits; let them know that they are capable of achieving most of the things they set their mind to. Even if they fail, their emotional wellbeing will help them bounce back quickly.

Lead by example and communicate your feelings to your family and actively listen to your children. It’s easy for children to forget their parents aren’t superheroes, so being open and honest will help them remember that you are human too!

Read more about how to support the siblings of a deaf child.