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My child is unique

Photo: The way people respond to your deaf child will have a huge impact on their self-esteem

Most hearing people have little or no experience of deafness and the way other people, such as parents, family members, friends, professionals and others, respond to your deaf child will have a huge impact on your child’s sense of identity, their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves. 

Parents, carers and close family all have an important role in helping your deaf child develop a healthy, positive view of themselves from an early age. This can help them:

  • cope better with life's difficulties
  • develop healthy relationships with others
  • develop their potential to achieve at school and in other activities
  • grow into fulfilled, healthy, responsible adults.

The positive and loving feelings you have for your deaf child are always there, but at times of stress they can slip beneath the surface.

Whilst it’s easier to focus on things that are going wrong, it is more useful to think about what’s going right and what they’ve already achieved. Here are some tips to help you:

Tips for success

  • Reward your child with smiles, cuddles and positive attention.
  • Reward them when they make even small steps.
  • Encourage behaviours you want to see more of (even if they haven't got it quite right).
  • Let them know you’ve noticed.
  • Show them that you approve of them.
  • Value their unique qualities as much as possible.  

Building the positives

This exercise is helpful for both yourself and your child. Like all people, they will feel low on occasion and helping them focus on the positives will help them overcome instances of low self-esteem.

1. Listing the good things

Sit with your child and get them to write the following either about themselves or you can write about each other…

  • What is unique about me?
  • What are my special gifts and talents?
  • What are the things I love and value about my personality?
  • What am I grateful for?

As they write down their thoughts, pause occasionally and reflect on how you both feel when you think about life in this way.

2. Daily gratitude

This can be done over the breakfast table, or if you have more time you can encourage your child to write or draw the things they are grateful for.

Aim for 10, the point is that after the obvious things, such as ‘mum’ or ‘my toys’, they draw from the small things in life such as ‘my hearing aid’, ‘the sky’ or ‘the TV’. You can go first to show them what to aim for. This is a great little practice to do because it reminds your child (and even yourself) that despite life’s difficulties there are plenty of things to be grateful for.