Top tips for Christmas day with a deaf childPublished Date: 23 Dec 2021
The big day is arriving - it’s been building up for weeks, and it’s excitement overload in every household. It’s certainly no different in ours with an eager three-and-a-half-year-old who’s very aware that Santa’s coming! However, whilst Christmas can be magical, it can also be overwhelming and busy for a lot of people. It can be even trickier to navigate for a child with a hearing loss. But there’s plenty that parents can do to make the day run smoothly.
Before the day itself, I find it helps to go over what the day is going to look like with your child - perhaps verbally or even visually if they are younger. You could sit down together and doodle a schedule. All children are reassured by routine (deaf or not) which often goes out of the window on Christmas day. A little preparation can go a long way to making children feel happier with the changes of the day.
In the morning, present opening can be a little chaotic - wrapping paper being ripped open, Christmas music blaring and simultaneous squeals of glee and laughter. It’s a wall of sound that’s really tricky for deaf children to decipher. Growing up as a deaf child myself, my family always took turns opening presents which reduced noise, made it a calmer environment and enabled easier conversation. If this is impossible in your family, perhaps consider staggering presents throughout the day. This turns present-opening into short bursts of excitement without it becoming prime time for hearing fatigue.
If you’re joining other family members for the day, the noise levels will naturally start to rise, which is fine - I don’t believe deaf children need to start avoiding every loud environment, that’s just life. What we can do is help steer them through. For me, this will mean sitting myself next to or opposite my daughter at the dinner table. This enables me to repeat anything not heard, be in clear sight for her to lip read and to use sign language to support speech if needed.
One of the most important tips I can offer both as a deaf adult and parent to a deaf child is to try and factor in some quiet time on Christmas day. Even for me it can be a huge sense of relief to escape for half an hour and flick through my phone in silence after the constant chatter and background noise of the day. For a child it might mean having story time or taking a toy off to play quietly. A chance to reset before more chocolate and presents!
Christmas is absolutely one of my favourite times of the year, and I really hope my daughter will grow up feeling the same. It’s been even more magical in recent years watching it through her eyes. From my family to yours - wishing you all a wonderful day full of love, laughter and far too much food! Merry Christmas everyone.