One of the best ways to prepare all children and teens to deal with everyday challenges is to give them the emotional life tools they need to have successful connections with friends and adults in their social circles. Although childhood is thought to be a time of growth and development without the responsibilities of adulthood, it is a period that can carry concerns and anxiety related to social interactions, academics, and athletic accomplishments. Additional challenges, such as a hearing loss, other sensory or learning issues, may further impact the ease and confidence with which a child or teen navigates through life stages.

A strong command of language forms the crucial foundation onto which children and teens build their knowledge of the world and interactions. Social language and skills are naturally learned by children with typical hearing through overhearing, observations, and often with no direct teaching. These skills are naturally developed by children as they observe others and by having other people react to their behaviour. How we learn social skills is based on very subtle cues, such as facial expressions, body postures and quiet auditory cues. Because of their smaller “listening bubbles," children who are Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing do not pick up social language cues and the subtle aspects of interactions going on around them as fully as their peers with typical hearing.

Parents and teachers may wonder whether a child who is Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing is exhibiting typical developmental behaviour in the domains of social skill development, self-esteem, and self-advocacy. Parents and teachers may incorrectly assume that certain observed behaviours are reflections of the consequences of the child being Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing and that children with typical hearing do not demonstrate these behaviours. At times, while the child is in the language acquisition stage, a parent may observe their child’s frustration related to communication attempts. For this reason, it is important for parents and educators to have a solid understanding of typical child development in the area of social skills in order to support the social and emotional development of children who are Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing.

This Guide focuses on supporting the well-being and emotional health of young people with hearing loss. This proactive and preventive approach provides strategies to build their self-esteem, boost confidence, strengthen coping skills, reduce anxiety and build resilience in children and teens that are Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing.

What can teachers do?

The daily actions of effective teachers and their positive relationships with their students actively promote the appropriate growth and mental health of students.
Teachers’ roles and relationships reach through and beyond the substance of the curriculum to impact students’ feelings of self-worth, dignity, identity, and belonging. Through interactions with both students and their parents, teachers are in a unique position to strengthen these important elements of mental health.
Teachers are also in an excellent position to observe mood changes or behaviours that seem excessive or unusual, perhaps lasting longer than average, which could indicate a mental health problem requiring consultation and intervention.
“Sometimes you just can tell that something is not right.”

How can parents help?

Parents know their children best, therefore trust yourself when advocating for your child
Actively engage with your child without overwhelming
Collaborate with your child’s school
Have a professional who is Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing on the Individualized Education Program planning team
 
Below you will find links to specific strategies for each school age group.