It is the season of giving and you are busy running around with that gift list, trying to beat
the clock and get everything done before the special day. You have an idea of what he wants because he’s always playing with that toy, or playing that video game, or watching that movie.
He’s going to love the gifts. And you’ve got enough of them!
And yet, something tugs at your heart as you know deep down that there’s something more he needs. There’s something missing in your relationship. You arrive home and immediately he’s throwing a fit, or upset with a sibling, or causing trouble.
Are you really doing all you can?
What is it he really needs?
It’s a basic human need, yet it’s sometimes difficult for the best of us. Add in the challenge of your child communicating in a different language and it gets even more difficult.
Even though my children are fortunate to have American Sign Language used in their home, it was just the other day I was apologizing for a miscommunication between myself, my husband and my son. It happens. Many of you parents are trying, but feel like you are falling behind the rapid development of your children. Or maybe you and your child feel completely lost and aren’t’ able to communicate much at all. Wherever we are in our journey to communicate and connect with our child, we can do better. When we do, the grin that will come will be much brighter and last longer than when those gifts under the tree are unwrapped.
Tips for better communication:
- Make eye contact. Eye contact is so important to deaf children. Get on her level, wherever that is, and really connect with her.
- Use facial expressions and gestures. The majority of our language is NON-VERBAL. You communicate a lot even without signs or spoken words.
- Wait and watch while your child tells you something. If you don’t understand, keep watching. Have her show you. Let her know what she does has meaning and you want to understand.
- Get support and help. There are many resources online and in many communities to learn American Sign Language (ASL). It’s never too late. Here are a few of them: lifeprint.com, aslnook.com, aslpro.com.
- Use written communication. Even if your child is not old enough to write and understand English, you can still use written communication through drawing pictures, or printing out a schedule book to explain holiday events. Text back and forth. Write her a letter. Start a communication journal where you write back and forth each day. Make an experience book. The ideas here are endless and while you are communicating with your child, you are also helping her develop a priceless skill of how to communicate in writing with those who do not sign.
- Find a local ASL student, a friend who is deaf, or other deaf adult, and invite them to join your family for a day. Chances are this person will help you practice your signing skills, teach you something new, and bring a smile to your child’s face!
- Encourage siblings to use these same strategies in playing with your child who is deaf or hard of hearing.
Family time, while treasured for so many of us, often brings stress to those children who cannot communicate well with family members. Make a difference in your child’s life by connecting and communicating what we all need: Love.