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Hesperian Health Guides

Everyone can help deaf children develop social skills

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Deaf > Chapter 10: Social skills > Everyone can help deaf children develop social skills


Children who are deaf can learn and practice their social skills best when they are part of a caring community, and when they go to school. When children interact and spend time in a social group outside the family, they make a big leap in developing their social skills. Some communities have child care centers or preschools, where groups of children can play and learn together. The children understand that expectations are different in a group setting. They learn to share, take turns, and think about the feelings of others.

Help a deaf child learn about the world

It is important for children who are deaf or cannot hear well to experience community events, take part in daily activities and discuss these with their families and friends. Parents, sisters, and brothers can help by taking a deaf child out as much as possible to public places and to visit relatives and friends. You can use every chance to teach the child how things work in the community.

A woman selling food in a market signing to a small girl.
For this money you can have 2.
By watching others, children can learn about the world around them. They can learn things like who grows the food they eat, and how people buy and sell at the market.

Take her with you when you collect water, gather wood, or when you go to the market, to school, to places of worship, to festivals, or to community meetings and events. Along the way, try to notice what hearing children can learn just by listening. Try to explain these things to your child by using signs or words that you both understand.

A boy and a girl speaking as they sit with 2 other children.
Since Rina can't hear well, let's play a game where hearing doesn't matter!
We could use hand signals instead of saying words for 'ready', and 'out'.

Help your child develop friendships

As children begin playing more with each other, communication and the ability to get along with others become more important. Many deaf children are lonely and isolated. This is partly because they have not learned enough social skills to develop friendships. It is also because hearing children do not know how to include them.
You can help children in the community who are not deaf understand how to communicate with deaf children. When other children know how to communicate with a deaf child, they may be more willing to include her in their games.

3 children playing together.
Simon's brother and sister are playing 'store' to help him understand how people act in stores and how things are purchased.

Children often make up games of 'pretend'. If they include a deaf child, it can help him learn about what to expect in new situations and how to behave.

To help your child make friends and play with other children, help her become aware of other people's feelings, learn to share and cooperate, and understand rules. She may also need help communicating with other children.

A child speaking while playing tug-of-war with 3 other children.
Rina is so strong! I want her on my team next time.

Other children may become frustrated trying to play with a child who does not understand the rules of their game. They may start to leave the deaf child out of their games. You can help by showing hearing children ways to play that do not need words. You can explain the rules to your child and show her how to play the game.


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