Hearing loss is something most of us associate with older folks, but it’s increasingly an issue with younger and younger people, including children.
While only two to three children out of 1,000 are born with detectable hearing loss, by the time children reach ages 6 through 19, as many as 12 percent have noise-induced hearing loss.
When hearing loss occurs in a young person, problems in speech and learning development may arise, as well as difficulties with socialization and trouble with school assignments or work. Children and adolescents who suffer hearing loss are at a distinct disadvantage if they aren’t given adequate support and help. If you’ve already taken steps to get a hearing problem addressed, or are doing so now, here are a handful of ways to encourage your child as she adjusts to life with hearing aids.
Listen to Concerns
Less common than glasses, contacts, or braces, a child with a hearing problem may be self-conscious about being the only one in his class who wears hearing aids. As your child struggles with this reality, whether it’s after he’s been outfitted with an aid or before he’s started wearing one – click here if you still need a good audiologist – it’s important for you to be a solid and sympathetic sounding board. Adults know that the terrors of grade school and middle school popularity eventually fade in importance and memory, but a child in the thick of that time doesn’t have the same perspective. Listen to your child’s concerns, and offer as much support and encouragement as you can.
Let Your Child Help Select the Hearing Aid
One way to get your child to more easily adjust to the prospect of a hearing aid is to let her be a true part of the selection process. From deciding between styles and performance options to choosing colors, let your child get a hearing aid she helped pick out. It will give her a sense of ownership and pride, and it may even improve her attitude if she’s been struggling with feeling as though life keeps handing her lemons.
Talk About Appropriate Expectations
Both adults and children need help with their expectations regarding the ways in which hearing devices actually improve hearing. Sit down with your child and your audiologist and discuss what hearing will be like with the aid. Talk about any strange sounds or sensations that might occur. Converse about how it will feel until wearing the device becomes routine. By discussing appropriate expectations, you will help your child avoid the feelings of despair and frustration that can accompany any early discomfort. Knowing what to expect will help her realize that the adjustment period is just that: a period of time that will pass.
Make It Part of the Routine
Especially for young children, putting hearing aids in and taking them out during their regular daily routine is an essential part of normalizing the experience. Put the hearing aids in just before it’s time to brush their teeth or change out of pajamas. Take the aids out at night just after reading books or just before bath time. However you incorporate it into your child’s schedule, do so in a consistent manner, and he will begin to assume his hearing aids are just a part of his everyday.
Make It Fun
Whether your child is 3 or 13, turn the hearing aids and wearing them into a fun experience. Give the aids names and personality traits. Tell stories about what they did before coming to live at your house. Draw pictures to illustrate the antics they get into while you all sleep at night. By keeping your child’s experience of the hearing aids lighthearted and entertaining, she will more quickly grow fond of them as they help her interact with the world around her.
Keep at It
Is your child really resisting his hearing aids? Does he pull them out on the sly, “misplace” them, or even lose them? Some children put up a lot of fight when it comes to wearing their aids, due to discomfort or sheer stubbornness, and while dealing with a resistant child is incredibly frustrating and taxing, do your best not to give in to his demands. Hearing is an integral part of living a successful and fulfilling life for most of us, and even in the face of a daily battle, keep at it for the sake of your child. With time and patience, he will eventually settle into wearing them, and your entire household will fare better due to his ability to hear well.
Helping a child adjust to a hearing aid is no simple matter. From concerns about being different to difficulties adjusting to how an aid feels, children need a lot of encouragement and support from understanding parents, which is, thankfully, something you can give them.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
My main acceptance in life would be that “change” itself is a constant and regardless of opinion it is inevitable. Making peace with ones self and accepting the things we CANNOT change is key to living a full and happy life. Within those experiences we grow as people and learn.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I have learned to appreciate all of my imperfections as it makes me who I am as a person and in reality “perfection” is all up for interpretation. In return I have taught myself to replace the old methods in dealing with situations and problems with ones that will deliver or elicit positive responses and solutions.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
I believe my core values or the personal rules I have set in place for myself and chose to live by have brought nothing but reward to my life as it has created my known presence to be one of value and those things remind me daily of my standards set if ever I were to steer off course.
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
Over analyzing every situation would definitely be a not-so-perfect quirk about myself, leading my mind to wander with thoughts of what-if’s, that usually are just that, “what-if’s”. Along with spontaneity and positivity it creates my not-so-perfect, but awesome self!! 🙂
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?
I love my positive outlook on life and the huge heart I carry with me daily filled with nothing but compassion for others and a willingness to always be learning something new.