Children don’t like to be different or to stand out too much around their peers. As they get older and become more aware of themselves and those around them, they may feel self-conscious or worry about being teased for wearing hearing aids.
Here's how you can help
Focus on the positive
Share examples of famous people with hearing loss. There are actors, rap artists, painters, soccer players, along with historical figures such as inventor Thomas Edison or composer Beethoven, If you want someone closer to their age, child actor Millie Bobby Brown cannot hear in one ear. (Although your child might not ready to watch the supernatural series she's best known for, Stranger Things, for a few years)
Tell your child that wearing hearing aids can give them superhero status. The Marvel Comics character Hawkeye, once had 80 per cent hearing loss, although that trait has yet to appear in The Avengers movies. One mum in the UK designed superhero-styled hearing aids for her young son.
- There are a number of books now available about children with hearing loss. Jane Madell (an American audiologist) has compiled a list. Your child might enjoy hearing about fictional characters in a similar situation which may provide opportunities to talk about situations your child has encountered.
Give them control
Let your child choose the colour and style of their hearing aid. While adult users tend to perfert hearing aids that match their skin-tone, children often love something brighter. A coloured hearing aid can be a real confidence booster for your child.
It's the same with ear moulds. There's a range of colours and designs, including sporting team themes and cartoon characters for them to chose from. There are patterned covers for cochlear implants too.
Get creative. Your child can decorate their hearing aids with coloured stickers, diamantes or nail foils for a completely unique look that is more like jewellery. You can also purchase hearing aid jewellery, charms and hearing aid decorations and there are options to suit all ages and interests. Just be wary of any choking hazards for younger children.
Meet others who wear hearing aids
Your parent group might invite young adults to talk and meet with younger children.
For teens, the not-for-profit Hear For You mentoring and leadership program is a wonderful opportunity to meet other teens with hearing loss. At the workshops, the teens are mentored by successful young adults who also grew up with a hearing loss.
Australian Hearing is the leading provider of hearing loss support services and devices. For more information on hearing loss for children we’re happy to chat.