Where ever we go in the world, we will meet someone who are differently-abled. For that reason, it is important to teach young children how to respectfully treat those with different abilities. In a world where people are so often viewed as “the other” or bullied for even the smallest thing like having a bright hair color or dressing a particular way, it is crucial to teach young children the factors that unite us rather than divide us.
Hearing loss isn’t often something children learn about in school, so when they are face-to-face with another child who may be wearing a hearing aid, the first thought that comes to their mind may be “weird” or “different”. Children are inquisitive creatures who need to know why thing are the way they are, so providing them with background on hearing loss and those who deal with it will mitigate bullying or teaching.
Hearing Loss Facts
As someone who wants to instill knowledge of hearing loss to young children, we ourselves first must understand the scope of it. Within the U.S. alone 1 to 3 in 1000 children are born with hearing loss. This number grows annually as more children are exposed to various causes of hearing loss. Ear infections, allergies, and colds can cause hearing loss and speech delays, but excessive loud noises in our daily environment also contribute to noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing loss is more prevalent than we realize. It often takes adults up to 7 years to seek a professional for untreated hearing loss. With such a prolonged period before adults seek professional assistance, imagine how difficult it would be for us as adults to identify it among youth. Studies have shown that 15% of school-age children between 6 and 19 years old experience some level of hearing loss. Understanding these facts allows us to comprehend the scope of hearing loss so that we may be able to provide accurate information and knowledge to young children.
Talking to Your Child about Hearing Loss
As an adult, may it be a teacher, parent, or care taker, the following tips provided can help you have a productive dialogue with your child about hearing loss.
It is important to inform your child that people experiencing hearing loss should not be separated, segregated, or isolated from their immediate community, whatever the setting. You should encourage them that those with hearing loss are no created differently, and share the same type of care, joy, feelings, and love as anyone else. Try to teach your child simple body language or sign language that would help them communicate with the hard of hearing. Teach young children to provide a helping hand where necessary as it will provide an inclusive environment for all.
All people have strengths and weaknesses, but it’s important to focus on one’s strengths and not their impossibilities. Compassion is often regarded as to having sensitivity towards others, where its qualities include patience and wisdom, kindness and perseverance, and warmth and resolve. Teaching young children to have compassion towards those facing hearing loss provides a safe, inclusive environment.
Address Bullying and Teasing Habits
A lot of teasing or bullying comes from innocent ignorance such as wanting to feel better or stronger. Even if it is just innocent, there are damaging effects to victims. Advise young children that teasing or bullying others is wrong and that if they bullied before to apologize. Teach children to treat their peers with respect regardless of who they are.
Hearing Aids Aren’t Toys
Explain to young children that they should treat any type of medical device with respect. May it be a cane, wheelchair, or hearing aid, they need to understand that these instruments are there to assist the person that needs them, and that they are not toys to play with.
Positive Ways to Interact with Those with Hearing Loss
The golden rule is to treat others as you would want to be treated. The same rule should be applied to those experiencing hearing loss. It is important to just be yourself and not to overemphasize someone’s hearing loss. Focus on that person’s abilities instead. In the case that someone with hearing loss needs assistance, be respectful and offer help. Do not do anything without the permission of the other person. Lastly, encourage young children to speak gently and directly when talking to a person with hearing loss and don’t assume that because someone who has a hearing loss also has an intellectual disability.
Get a Hearing Test with South Shore Hearing Center
If you think that your child may be experiencing hearing loss, set up an appointment today with South Shore Hearing Center for a hearing test. Our hearing health professionals will be able to help your child today!