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Have you ever heard someone say “If I knew grandkids were this fun, I would’ve had them first!!” There’s such a special bond between grandparent and grandchild. And grandparents LOVE to spend time with those little ones! If a child is deaf or hard of hearing, many grandparents want to know how they can help and support both their grandchild and their child who is the parent. Let’s explore ways grandparents can support the journey to listening and talking.
They can bring unconditional love, uninhibited fun, and a unique perspective. Parents today highly value the advice their own parents have to offer. In fact, nearly 50 percent of parents surveyed reported they often seek information about parenting from their mother or mother-in-law. Today, many grandparents also provide some degree of childcare, with some actually taking on the primary caregiver role. We know the relationships young children develop with family members impact immediate and long-term language, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Grandparent-grandchild interactions can actually shape that little brain!
Here are some tips for grandparents who want to offer support on the hearing loss journey.
When you first learn your grandchild is deaf or hard of hearing, you may feel overwhelmed or lost if you don’t know about hearing loss for young children. Some grandparents have their own hearing devices but wonder “How is hearing technology different for my grandchild?” or you may not be familiar with the technology at all! You may also wonder if the hopes and dreams you had for your grandchild are still possible. As a grandparent, you have an important role to play!
Your support is important to the empowerment and well-being of your grandchild’s parents. So no matter if you’re close by or far away, there are ways to get involved!
If you’re a grandparent who lives nearby, you can be a little more hands-on in your role. For example, you can ask for instructions on how to handle hearing devices! The more you know about them, the more you can help. Your grandchild needs to wear devices during all waking hours for their little brain to access all the sounds of speech. You can be a big help by making sure those devices stay on — no matter how many times they come off in a day! You can also ask about what they’ve been working on in early intervention so you can use those same strategies and techniques to help your grandchild learn to listen and talk. And asking mom or dad to explain to you is good practice for them also - it’s a win-win! You may even ask to tag along to an intervention session or offer to go if a scheduling conflict pops up.
If you live further away from your grandkids, there is still a lot you can do! Today’s technology helps build strong relationships no matter the distance. Consider having video calls to continually build your relationship with your grandchild. You can still play peek-a-boo or read books aloud with video calls! Find out what works best — maybe you read the books and show pictures as you read along, or even better ask to join mom and dad during storytime as they read aloud so you can open the book too and participate in the conversation! Another fun idea to use when you’re connecting through video is to create a surprise box! Each of you have the same box with the same little toys or books inside. Open it at the same time over a video call. You can share about what you found inside the box and talk all about it! The more words you use to describe it, the better. Make up silly songs about the object and enjoy playing together from far away.
As a grandparent, you’re uniquely positioned to share information and experiences from a different generation that can extend your grandchild’s language and development. Here are just a few examples:
There’s a lot to do in the early years to teach little ones to listen and talk. Their parents are their first and best teachers, but your role as their grandparent is just as important. Your support and encouragement throughout their LSL journey will help your family achieve the best possible listening and spoken language outcomes.
Grandparents — you have an opportunity to play such an important role in your grandchild’s life and their hearing loss journey. See how LSL helped these little ones develop positive relationships with their grandparents in the video below.
Thank you to all of you wonderful grandparents for being a special part of your grandkid's lives!
Putting the GRAND in Grandparents - the Important Role They Play in Children’s Lives
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