Good hearing for a good start in life.

Two out of every thousand children are born with hearing loss. Hearing loss in children may be caused by infections or accidents. To treat it properly, the nature and severity of the hearing loss must be professionally diagnosed. While some forms of hearing loss may be treated medically or surgically, others require amplification and therapy.

Wearing hearing aids will not isolate your child, but untreated hearing loss will.

The earlier hearing loss is diagnosed and treated with an appropriate hearing aid for children, the better for a child’s linguistic and social skills development. If you have any doubts about your child’s hearing, have them tested as soon as possible. Finding a solution quickly increases the likelihood of children with hearing aids adapting to them quickly, and helps prevent emotional and social difficulties related to hearing loss.

The information below includes a list of suggested questions to ask your child’s hearing care professional that will help you find the best solution for them, and helpful tips on how to encourage your child. For school-age children, there is an important section on how children develop, the effects of hearing loss on education, and a guide for teachers.

Introducing hearing aids to a young child for the first time can be challenging. While some children accept their hearing aids easily, others might not. Here are some suggestions for how to encourage your child to accept their hearing aids.

Getting your child to wear hearing aids.

  • Establish wearing hearing aids as part of a normal routine. To help children get used to wearing their hearing aids, integrate into their normal routine. Put on the hearing aids when your child is awake and take them off at bedtime.
  • Be in control. With a young child, establish that you will be the one putting on and taking off the hearing aids.
  • Make it fun. Make wearing hearing aids fun and interesting for your child. Your hearing care professional may be able to provide you with a dummy hearing aid. Put the dummy hearing aid on your ears and show your child how it looks. Praise your child when they put it on. Wear the dummy hearing aid with your child so that they don’t feel alone.
  • Make it a special day. When your child puts on the hearing aids for the first time, celebrate it as a very special day. Do something special with your child (e.g., go to the park to play, see a movie, or get ice cream).
  • Distract your child with toys. Allow your child to play with a favorite toy when you put on the hearing aids.
  • Special time. Make wearing hearing aids a special time for your child. Allow them to have a treat or enjoy a fun activity.
Mommy
  • Personalize the hearing aid. Establish a sense of ownership. Allow your child to select their preferred color of hearing aid.
  • Use a lubricant. Soft earmolds are recommended for most young children. A lubricant helps with inserting them into your child’s small ears. Consult your hearing care professional for a suitable lubricant.
  • Slowly increase the length of wearing time. Your child might need a period of adjustment to the hearing aids, and they need to learn to hear with them. If needed, slowly increase the length of wearing time over a week.

Encouragement for kids who don’t want to wear their hearing aids.

  • Stay calm, and be gentle but firm. If your child keeps pulling out the hearing aids, gently but firmly put them back on. If your child immediately pulls them off again, wait for a while before putting them back on.
  • Reward chart. Children love rewards and praise. Use a reward chart to encourage your child to wear the hearing aids. Negotiate the reward. Record on the chart when your child wears the hearing aids for a desired length of time each day. At the end of a week, the child may have their reward.
  • Look for other reasons. If your child persists in pulling out the hearing aids, they might be telling you “Mommy, the sound is too loud!” or “Daddy, the earmolds hurt.” Check the volume control and look at the child’s ear for signs of discomfort. Do their ears look red? Are there sore spots? Is the earmold too tight for your child? If so, please consult your child’s hearing care professional.

What can you do to help your child listen better?

Encouragement for kids is key. Don’t underestimate the importance of successful parent – child communication!

  • Gain your child’s attention before speaking. Call their name or signal to your child. Make sure that you have your child’s attention (e.g., eye contact) before speaking.
  • Stand close and keep still when speaking. Standing near and remaining still at the child’s eye level helps them hear better and be less distracted by movements.
  • Face your child. Stand close and face your child when speaking. Looking at your facial expressions and lip movements can help your child understand better. Visual cues are very important for children.
  • Speak in a clear and audible tone of voice. Talk slowly and use simple words and sentences with your child. Gesturing may be helpful.
  • Give clear, unambiguous instructions. Use simple sentences and make all instructions clear and concise.
  • Check for understanding. Make sure that your child understands what is being said. Observe their facial expression. Alternately, ask your child to rephrase or repeat given instructions.
  • Allow your child some time before responding to your questions. Be patient and positive. An anxious and self-conscious child will experience even more difficulties thinking of replies to questions.
  • Be positive, encouraging, and sensitive to your child’s feelings, and give praise generously. Be positive about your child’s learning and celebrate all progress made no matter how small.
Proud parents

Compensatory strategies to improve hearing.

Older children can be taught to self-monitor and regulate their listening.

  • Face the speaker. Encourage your child to face the person speaking, maintain eye contact, and keep attention on the speaker.
  • Problem solving. Encourage your child to identify situations where they have difficulties listening (e.g., in the school cafeteria) and think of possible solutions to improve listening ability, such as moving to a quieter corner.

Things you can do to help students hear better.

Education for teachers on hearing loss and the use of hearing aids helps improve kids’ education.

  • Provide preferential seating. Have the child seated away from adverse noise conditions. Provide the child with better visual and auditory access to the teacher.
  • Improve acoustic quality in the classroom. Reduce echo and unwanted background noises like chair shuffling by having wall-to-wall carpeting, acoustic ceiling tiles, thick curtains, and foam baffles to absorb these background noises.
  • Provide lecture notes prior to lessons. The child can become familiar with new topics before a lesson. This allows them to focus on listening.
  • Provide a personal FM amplification system or other system such as VoiceLink™. Personal FM and other wireless systems deliver the teacher’s voice to the child’s ears above the noise and unaffected by distance.
  • Complement verbal explanations with visual cues. Pictures, graphs, and other illustrations can be helpful in reinforcing auditory information.
  • Gain the student’s attention before speaking. Call the child’s name or signal to them. Make sure that you have the child’s attention (e.g., eye contact) before speaking.

 

Honor Student
  • Stand close and keep still when speaking. Standing near and remaining still at the child’s eye level helps them hear better and be less distracted by movements.
  • Speak in a clear and audible tone of voice. Speak slowly and use simple words and sentences. Gesturing may be helpful.
  • Give clear, unambiguous instructions. Use simple sentences and make all instructions clear and concise.
  • Check for understanding. Make sure that the child understands what is being said. Observe facial expression and ask the child to rephrase or repeat given instructions.
  • Allow the child some time before responding to your questions. Be patient and positive. An anxious and self-conscious child will experience even more difficulties thinking of replies.

To learn more communication strategies for hearing loss, consider scheduling a consultation with a hearing care professional.