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Reducing stress

Photo: It’s important to have a routine in the morning

In the mornings

Getting everyone up and out to school and work in the mornings can be one of the most stressful times of day for many families. There can be added complications where a child is deaf and has an extra need.

As hard as it is sometimes, try and start the day with positive feelings rather than stress, as this will benefit your child’s ability to participate and learn while keeping them focussed on the day ahead.

It’s important to have a routine in the morning. Also give yourself a bit of extra time just in case something unexpected comes up that makes you fall behind schedule. Preparing the children’s clothes, school bags and planning breakfast the night before will also help save time.

Encourage independence

Encouraging your deaf child to be independent is important. This will help teach them the life skills to take responsibility for themselves. Encourage them to get themselves ready at an appropriate age. Some children can get themselves sorted quickly and efficiently in the mornings, while others tend to ‘dawdle’.

Nagging ‘dawdlers’ creates stress but doing everything for them will make your child dependent. Instead, try and give clear boundaries by setting specific targets – for example, get dressed by 7.45am. Then, depending on the age of your child, reward success with praise, stars and stickers and eventually a treat, maybe at the weekend!

Stress-busting tips

  • A clear routine will help a deaf child know what is going to happen each day.
  • Give clear time boundaries to a child who needs space to daydream. 
  • Use a clock face (or a card with digital time on it) to show them what time they need to be dressed by.
  • If age appropriate, get your child to pack their school bag and any extra swimming or PE kit the evening before. 

A weekly visual calendar is helpful to make your child aware of upcoming appointments and activities, and if age appropriate, checking cochlear implants and hearing aids/batteries.

Show by example

Many parents get into the habit of hurrying children to get ready, while they run around doing last minute chores. As a result, the child ignores the parent’s pleas to get their shoes on because they see Mum or Dad isn’t ready to leave.

So, show your child what you want them to do by being ready yourself a few minutes ahead of time. Have your coat on and stand by the front door to give the message ‘I’m ready to go’.

Visual cues

Create visual cues like scrap books, photo boards, or photo albums to get your child involved in decision-making. Knowing what they need to do in advance can help them prepare.

Teachers of the Deaf recommend using photos of family, friends, teachers, school, and hospitals. Use anything your child comes across regularly to build up a visual library of people and places. Many parents find that these visual cues help their deaf child better understand who, what, when and where they are visiting – thereby reducing both their feelings of stress and yours.

And the most important thing...

Be kind to yourself! There are going to be good days and bad days. Having kids is hard, and as much as we love them sometimes things just don’t go to plan. Tomorrow is a new day, so put the kids to bed, put your feet up and relax!