By Ronald Kennedy

February 4, 2023

As parents’, we mainly focus on the development of our children through encouragement and positive reframing. A youngster’s strengths and positive intentions should be bought to the forefront.

By demonstrating an unconditional belief in your youngster, you lay the foundation for an “I can do!” attitude (confidence), ‘enthusiasm and motivation for personal growth.’ But how a deaf child function in society remains to be seen!

You offer encouragement by words, actions, and feelings. Your kid might need a hug after falling off a swing and some prodding to get back on.

Or perhaps he or she might need you to be lovingly firm through all the tears before his or her dance class (which, of course, they’d enjoy once there).Deaf children Unite

How parents’ and deaf children bond today is ‘key.’ Families must go ‘the extra mile’ to make it all better.

Positive reframing requires that you, as a provider, point out the silver lining to every cloud regarding the hearing impaired.

When a negative or potentially negative situation occurs, you’re define (re-frame) it in such a way that makes the youngster hopeful and motivated towards healthy outcomes.

For example, “You tried so hard to help daddy by carrying a big, full shopping bag. Next time we’ll have you carry a smaller one and maybe we can avoid having the bag rip.”

“Encouragement and positive reframing are especially useful in promoting a youngster’s capacity for self-appraisal.”

Those two closely related techniques (Encouragement & positive re-framing), are often used together. You use them whenever you accurately paint a positive picture of your kid’s efforts and abilities.

With practice, you can identify and underscore positive elements for the young individual in any situation, no matter how bleak it appears.

Choose comments and questions that held your youngsters assess and praise himself, such as, “Aren’t you proud of yourself for studying for your test.” Make encouraging comments, such as, “You sure did make the dishes sparkle!”

Re-frame discouraging situations; for example, “Yes, you got a D, but it is an honest D – you studied, you really tried and you didn’t cheat. I am proud of you.”

Boosting your kids’ self-confidence helps him have faith in his ability to confront everyday challenges and to create positive outcomes.

Some find it hard to directly accept encouraging comments but can benefit from overhearing/over “seeing” your praise. For example, when Emily is present ask a third party, “Did you know that Emily swam the length of the pool today?”

Another helpful method for interrupting undesirable behaviors and extricating your kid from negative situations is to review positive moments, “I remember when you…”

In this way, you help your youngster remember past successes, renewing his or her faith in their own ability as well as the bright side of life. How parents’ and deaf children bond is so important.


Mutual respect builds your kid’s self-esteem and sensitivity to others. Empathy, the ability to understand another’s point of view, is a necessary skill for building healthy relationships.

Parents can best teach their child about mutual respect and empathy by demonstrating respect and understanding for him or her, for their feelings, thoughts, and experience.Deaf children unite

Though this sounds simple, accepting a hearing impaired individual fully means accepting that person’s ways and everything about them.

So the bottom line is how families unite is key!

If parents’ are shocked, saddened, confused or angry about their kid’s condition, then the parents’ should seek help to cope with these feelings.

In addition, the hearing family must learn to accommodate the hearing impaired toddler’s communication needs, which does not happen overnight.

Therefore, a parent might have gaps in understanding how his youngster thinks and feels about things. This doesn’t indicate the absence of mutual respect, it indicates a communication problem that will require more patience and time to resolve.

The results are worth the investment of time and patience.

“Families that base their relationships on mutual respect and empathy have an easier time living together, cooperating, and learning from one another.”

How Do Parents Build Respect With And Have Empathy For Their Child?

You convey respect (or lack of it) for your deaf kid by many of your daily actions. You fail to respect your youngster when you talk down to him or her; purposely embarrass them; laugh at their efforts; exclude them from family communication; or look through their private belongings without asking permission.

Soliciting and listening to your youngster’s opinion, by allowing him or her the latitude to negotiate his communication needs, express clothing preferences, choose friends, and pursue hobbies.

You want to send the message that you value his or her taste and individuality. You demonstrate your respect for them through myriad of subtle actions.

But not rushing to your deaf youngster’s rescue when he or she is trying to solve a math problem, repair a broken toy, or construct a Lego skyscraper, you show respect for (and confidence in) his independent efforts and accomplishments.

Parents and caregivers should show empathy (understanding), not sympathy (pity), for challenges and obstacles that come their way due to his or her hearing loss.


Find ways to laugh, love, and in short, enjoy your hearing impaired child. All the parental worrying, drudgeries, schedules, and heartaches should be balanced by laughter, affection, excitement, and joy.

There are no rules that say parents’ must always be serious. Allow your child to rekindle your playfulness – tickle, giggle, joke, go sledding, hug, love, and be downright goofy whenever you get the chance.

“Love, humor, and affection can go a long ways in regard to raising a child with hearing loss.”


Love, cherish, and accept your child simply because he is himself or herself. Your child needs to know that even when he or she misbehaves you still love them.

This gives them the message that you may not love some of their behaviors, but you will always love them.

This enables your child to take risks, practice problem-solving skills, and examine his behavior, without worrying whether their efforts will affect your show of affection.

Physical and emotional affection are key components of parenting. Verbal and nonverbal expressions of your feelings show your child that your support and love are everlasting.

Such actions as saying “I love you,” hugging, kissing, or affectionately playing with your child’s hair (especially when he or she is not expecting it) tell them just how special and important he is to you.

Never overlook the value of humor. Like playful playing, laughter, joking, and daily silliness greatly restore perspective.

When parents’ defuse tension by seeing the lighter side of a problem, children feel less threatened and take more risks in examining their difficulties.

“NEVER make a joke out of your hearing impaired child – it is not funny to be ‘sacrificed’ for the sake of a good laugh.”

The Impact Of A Child’s Disability Is Emotional To All

Parents are often told, after recently completing a child testing diagnostic process, that “you have the same child that you went into the testing booth with – it’s just that you’re looking at him/her differently now.”

By this I mean that the ‘problem’ at this time is the parents’ problem, not the child.

For the parents’, it’s a grief reaction; the impact of hearing loss is devastating! They’ve lost the child they thought they were going to have and the life they expected to live.

This will invoke for the parents’ many feelings of loss. For the child, there will be feelings associated with the hearing loss, but these will not be one of loss as almost all children with hearing loss have never heard normally or have no memory of hearing.

These children have little or no concept of what they’ve lost. In the past, I’ve compared the parental loss to a death, but I have begun to see that this is no longer accurate.

In a death, there’s finality to the grief, there’s a burial and life can go on, albeit with pain and loss. With hearing loss the grief is chronic, lived with 24/7. The child is a constant reminder to the parents’ of this loss.

No matter how well-adjusted the parents’ seem to be to the reality that their child has a hearing loss, there will be trigger events that remind them of the loss and those initial feelings of pain and sorrow return.

You may ask, without the proper guidance through parenting, “Why can’t my toddler hear and function in society?”

Triggers can be as simple as a birthday party or the anniversary of the original diagnostic evaluation. What seems to happen after the initial pain of the diagnosis is that parents’ learn to live in a bubble of “normal” hearing loss and adjust to understanding that hearing loss is a disability of their child.

So they go on each day trying not to think about it. The trigger events remind them just how abnormal their life really is and what they’ve lost.


With the advent of newborn screening the diagnosis of hearing loss is, in most cases, going to be before the child is three months of age. The very early diagnosis seems to be a mixed blessing.

In a recent study at Emerson College, parents’ of children with hearing loss were asked if they had liked to know at birth, if their child had a hearing loss.

The majority answered “yes” (83%) and gave some of the following reasons:

  • We could have offered earlier amplification or sign language, how-emotions-impact-hearing-loss-what-parents-feel-the-most/instead of silently moving mouths;
  • Because I would have had more time to give the very important communication she missed for two years;
  • Only because of a better understanding

Those parents’ who said “no” (17%), they would not have liked to know their child was hard-of-hearing, gave the following reasons:

  • I guess I was glad that I knew at 2 days so we could get started on what we needed to do, but I missed having the bonding time;
  • Parents need to bond with the infant before getting swept up in the issues of hearing impairment.
  • Not knowing immediately gave us (Mom and child) a time to bond normally, but I’m also thankful to have found out before 6 months;
  • She was too sick. Knowing at birth would have been too depressing.

My experience with parents’ is that those who found out that their child had hearing loss at birth, are grateful that they found out so early; but regret that they didn’t have time to enjoy their baby.

They had to hit the ground running and couldn’t delight in their newborn. It seems to take a while for the early diagnosed parents’ to recognized their loss.

At first, gratitude for the early start dominates their thinking. It’s only when they have time to reflect that they realize what they’ve lost.

Parents with a later diagnosis often felt guilty that they had taken so long to get started and did not always appreciate the time spent thinking of their child as normal hearing.

They think of this as wasted time. I often assure them that they got a great gift in that they had this time to enjoy their child.

The consensus among parents’ is that the most desirable time to have found out their child had a hearing loss was after three months and before six months.

In Conclusion

In regards to screening, unfortunately, most screening programs are not designed to detect hearing loss after three months of age because of the difficulty of locating parents’ of newborns after they leave the hospital and the expense of setting up equipment in every pediatrician’s office.

Much training and effort needs to be continuously expended to provide audiologists and hospital personnel with not only the technical skills to diagnose hearing loss in very young infants, but also to develop the skills to support the infants of the parents’ at an emotionally vulnerable time.



Author: Ronald Kennedy

Ron attended the Art institute of Chicago in 1980 and Harold Washington College in 1997. He graduated from Malcolm X College in May, 2000 majoring in 'Hearing Loss in America' and 'Children with Hearing Disabilities Around the World' (Ron has another interesting website, regarding Love, Dating & Relationship). A Graduate of Malcolm X College in 2000 with an associate's degree in applied science, Ron also worked with the 'Chicago Area Autopsy Service' which is affiliated with the Medical Examiners Office, near downtown Chicago. The service covered all the local and suburban hospitals when reports of a death is called in.

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