Disciplining a Child who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing

​Do you discipline your child who deaf or hard of hearing any differently than your child who hears?

I don't think we discipline our deaf child any differently. Perhaps when he was very young he might have gotten away with something because of lack of understanding of what we expected, but that didn't last long.No. We expected honesty, self-discipline and obedience from both of our children.I try not to, but I catch myself being more lenient at times with my child who is deaf.The discipline is the same. I won't let my deaf daughter go undisciplined for something that any other child would need to be disciplined for... I care about her future. And that involves making sure that she does not grow up spoiled or thinking that she can behave in a way that is socially unacceptable or do things that are wrong just because she is deaf. Deafness doesn't allow a child or person to have an excuse to behave badly.I think we may be easier on her, but I think that is more because she is a girl, rather than because she is hard of hearing.Because I sign with my child, it requires stopping everything in order to have my hands free to sign. It takes a lot of patience, but I think it has helped me do a better job with both of my children.We worked really hard not to treat our child who is hard of hearing differently. However, since she couldn't be yelled at across the room, there were probably times when she escaped some of the verbal "discipline" the others got. I would say that the answer to this question is yes. Our hearing children, because they have so much more vocabulary, can reason things out much better at a younger age than a deaf child can. They hear, 'No, you're going to get hurt if you do that,' or something similar to that, many times a day and after a while they know they'd better not do that. With our deaf child, again, because he didn't know the words, we had to make sure that we got the point across in a way that he could understand. That included using sign, mime, conveying in whatever way we could that what he was doing was wrong and why. It takes extreme patience and understanding in taking the time to explain.I'd like to think the answer is no, but I know there have been times when I ​haven't disciplined my daughter for things I might have disciplined my hearing son for. Usually the reason was because I felt that she truly did not understand what she did wrong, and in that situation I felt it was more productive to teach her about why what she did was wrong rather than to just punish her.

Discipline Tips for New Parents

Be extra patient, but don't let them use being deaf or hard of hearing as an excuse for bad behavior. Remember, it's possible that they didn't understand the rules, so make sure things are clear, but then follow through. Rather than just saying or signing 'NO!' offer an explanation to your child. Children want more than a command. Discipline is a great time to communicate, so don't miss the opportunity.Develop a means of effective communication with your child. Do not encourage him to use being deaf or hard of hearing as a crutch or excuse.Expectations should be the same for kids who are deaf and hard of hearing and for kids who are hearing. Lacking discipline because of feeling sorry for the child who is deaf or hard of hearing will only hurt the child in the end, possibly causing behavior problems and problems with peers.Too many parents get hung up on the words deaf or hard of hearing and forget that the child needs structure, discipline, and responsibility.Sometimes we have found that we have to act it out in mime even to convey what we are trying to say to our child. Show your child what he is doing, what it is doing to the person he is hurting, and what the results are. When you are sure he understands you, warn him that there will be consequences if he does it again. He will get frustrated if you say, 'No, No' all the time or discipline him for something he did if he didn't understand your reasoning behind it. Picture it - all he might see is an angry face with mouths moving. He might not even understand why you are mad at him.Don't feel guilty for disciplining your child. You are doing the best for them by teaching them to be polite and thoughtful and giving them the best opportunity to succeed in the future. Discipline is a fundamental part of your love for them.Working so hard to hear and understand all the time can be exhausting. Be tolerant when your child has had a long day at school, because they have had to work much harder than others just to get through the day.You need to understand your child's personality and work with that. Also, make sure you get down to their level when speaking to them.Don't change the rules for your child who is deaf or hard of hearing. They need the security of boundaries and being treated like everyone else. It is also extremely important for their siblings to see fair treatment.