How to Help a Deaf Child Make Friends

Being a deaf child often creates a social barrier, especially since one cannot easily participate in conversations. This often results in deaf children being alienated from the rest of the class. Here are ways you can help your deaf child with socializing.


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    Teach practical conversation strategies. Generic advice like "just say hi" and "ignore bullies" won't help your child deal with the practical realities of trying to make friends while disabled. Talk to your child about how to...
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    Be honest about bullying. Your child needs to know how to deal with bullies who won't go away. Discuss how to handle the situation when it happens. Emphasize the importance of telling an adult, and tell them to come to you if adults refuse to help.
    • Teach games to handle bullies: staring and dismissing, pretending to mishear or not hear them, constantly asking them to repeat themselves, cheerfully agreeing with them, etc. This will make bullies less scary, and confusing them may make them leave.
    • The phrase "I'm okay, you're mean" was developed in the developmental disability community, and may be useful to your child.
    • Emphasize that bullying doesn't happen because something is wrong with the child.
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    Support your child's self-esteem. Your child needs to know that it's okay to be deaf, and there's nothing strange or defective about them. Don't allow "deaf" to become a bad word in your family.
    • Introduce them to deaf role models.
    • Teach their deafness as natural and acceptable, just like your allergy to shrimp or your son's love of silly hats.
    • Consider introducing older children to the Deaf community, which has a rich and wonderful culture all their own.
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    Consider sending your child to a school for deaf children. These schools are made in order to give deaf children a chance to grow up in a healthy environment where they can learn to adapt to their deafness. Also, your child will be able to communicate with others using sign language, and they will have a better chance of understanding it than in a regular school.
    • If you cannot send your child to a school for deaf children, find a support group or club where she can meet other deaf children. Finding others like her can be crucial for her self-esteem.
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    Model good social skills at home. Listen well, treat your child with respect, and adopt the attitude that you'd like to see in your child. Your child learns from you, so if you can carry on a good conversation, your child will pick up those skills.
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    Talk about what children seem approachable. Maybe the jocks are too judgmental and the popular kids are too exclusive, but the little nerdy girl or sweet autistic boy could be great friends. Your child may find quiet people and outcasts to be less intimidating and easier to relate to.
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    Keep it relaxed. It's best not to push your child too hard, because you could overwhelm them or feel like they need to make friends because you want them to. Take it slowly, and let the child move at their own pace.
    • One-on-one interactions might be easier for your child.
    • If your child is worried, try hanging out nearby while the two play together.
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    Be a good friend to your child. Spend plenty of time together, ask about their day, and support them. A strong relationship with you will help give them confidence to face the world.


  • Realize that there will always be mean or rude people that may bully your child. Take appropriate action if necessary.

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Categories: Raising Children with Special Needs | Deaf and Hard of Hearing