My Deaf Boy is Just Like Your Hearing Boy

????????????????????????????????????My son loves sports, all of them. He dives into whatever sport is offered each season with a determination and talent that is noticed and praised. Following one of the games, I learned that my son’s coach and the basketball ref weren’t calling a ‘double dribble’ on my son during the game when they maybe should have. After explaining exactly what it was that he was doing, guiding the ball with a quick touch of his second hand so as not to lose control, the coach said, “It wasn’t’ exactly a double dribble, but it looked really close to it. It’s ok.”  “He’s trying so hard!”

Uh-uh. No way. You call my boy just like any other. If you would have called a double-dribble on another kid that did the same thing, you better call my boy too. Just because he’s deaf does NOT mean he should get a freebie.  

My boy works just like my hearing son. I expect homework done correctly and on time, books read, bedroom clean, etc. There’s no pity, no lower expectation for my deaf children compared to my hearing child. He has the same capabilities. I have the same expectations.

Parents, encourage independence, self- advocacy and responsibility in your deaf child just as you would your hearing child.  

Treat your deaf child the same way you do your hearing child. Teach your child he can be independent and responsible. Teach him that he CAN go by himself to order the pizza, to ask the storekeeper where an item is, etc. Train him how to do this with the tools he has. He can use a pad of paper, a smart phone or other electronic device, pictures on a menu, etc. Give him the tools and watch him grow. Too many deaf children grow up expecting the answers to be given to them every time. Too often they look to others to solve their problems instead of looking inward. We have to teach them to solve the problem themselves and to make their life what they want it to be.

Don’t let the double dribble, the cheating on the test, the slacking on the homework slide because, “He’s trying so hard.” Here’s what to do instead:

  1. Identify the problem.
  2. With your child identify possible solutions to the problem and discuss strategies that could be used.  
  3. Encourage your child to use the strategies and then evaluate. If you need to be with your child as he or she applies the strategies, that can be ok. However, you should be there as a support and let your child do the talking/problem solving part. If it’s a letter to the teacher, for instance, you can be the secretary, but have it be his or her words.
  4. Praising your child specifically for what he or she has done. “Wow! You just spoke up for yourself in a hard situation! That’s awesome. You were brave!”

Following these steps will foster self-esteem, courage, and success in your child. Don’t be afraid to let your child fall. It’s in the falls and the failures our children truly learn how to problem solve, be independent, responsible, and successful!

For more suggestions on how to boost your child’s self-esteem, get our FREE Parent Resource here:

McDonnell, Margaret Rose, Navigating Student Success: Self-Determination and Advocacy Skills in Higher Education, http://www.illinoistransitionconference.org/2015

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