Parents of deaf children and professionals shared practical information as part of our Positive Parenting project. The project was divided into five parts which cover the key elements of bringing up a deaf child: self-esteem, behaviour management, communication, playing and reading, and the wider family. It was aimed at families with a deaf child of primary school age or younger.
The Positive Parenting project produced videos containing tips and these videos have a range of language options for spoken English, Polish, Urdu, Sylheti, Punjabi and Somali with English subtitles and British Sign Language. You can watch these videos by clicking on the links below.
The videos include stories from black and minority ethnic (BME) families of deaf children talking about their own experiences of parenting.
Having good self-esteem – a positive attitude, valuing ourselves and being convinced of our own abilities – is important to develop from a young age. As our experts explain in the videos below, even before children have language parents can start building their self-esteem by giving lots of praise and smiles.
Sometimes instincts can get in the way. One mum of a deaf child explains: “Being the parent of a deaf child makes me overprotective towards him because sometimes I feel people aren’t perceiving him in the way they should, and sometimes I step in and tell them, this is what he means.”
But speaking for a child won’t allow their self-esteem and confidence to grow. It’s important to give them room to develop and learn from their difficulties and mistakes.
Children can sometimes behave in an unacceptable way and it’s important to manage their behaviour. They need to develop self-control, their play, their co-operative skills and respond to the people around them.
“They need consistency and consistent responses. Don’t say no one time and then in a similar situation say yes. When you say no, you need to back that up with an explanation,” says one of our experts.
One mum shares the tip she uses with her son Joshua, who loves swimming: “Sometimes when he is naughty I say ‘No swimming on Thursday Joshua', then he will stop the action he is doing and try to behave.”
Good communication is the key to effective parenting as communication problems between a child and their family can lead to emotional, social and even mental health problems in later life.
Our video looks at different methods of communication that deaf children can use and how parents can support them to develop their language skills.
Be prepared to be patient and give them extra time to communicate. One mum says: “When we have dinner we make sure everyone talks just one at a time so it makes it easier for Bilal to understand what is being said.”
Children love to play and it’s a very important part of their development. One expert explains how it’s more important for deaf children – they need to develop social skills, communication skills, language, turn taking, appropriate eye contact and sharing, and have fun too.
A mum points out how play helps to develop conversational skills. “We have games, we’re using sign language in the games, so we’re communicating.”
Parents and experts share lots of tips, including putting sounds to the toy, making sure the child takes the lead, and making sure there is daily one-to-one play time, free of other distractions, to help the child’s development.
Having a deaf child affects all members of the family. It's very important that everybody understands a deaf child’s limitations and supports them. Our video explores the different ways in which families react to a child's deafness and community attitudes which can be supportive or negative.
It’s important not to compare deaf and hearing siblings, say our experts – this will help to avoid jealousy and competition between them. And parents need the same rules, rewards and sanctions for all of them.
Our parents' group give their views on what makes a happy home, including thinking about the positives. “I feel proud to have a son who educates the rest of the family as well,” says one dad.