Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Brief Thought On The Behaviour of Deaf children

If you are raising a deaf child have you ever experienced this behaviour?

Your four year old throws a tantrum, shuts his eyes and screams at the top of his lungs? You can't communicate

Your three year old is so frustrated because she is not getting her way that she screams a cries so hysterically you can't calm her

Your child grabs toys from other kids and can't seem to share

You don't understand why your child disrupts circle time at school by rolling around and commenting at inappropriate times

Your child is loud when eating and seems to not notice his plate crashing with his fork

Your child doesn't understand how to take turns in conversation and will walk away mid sentence

You can't get his attention easily and he seems to pick and chose when you can engage

When your child is socialising with hearing kids he gets aggressive

When you drop him off at school he screams for a full hour shouting at the teachers wanting to go home.

Well if the answer is yes, take a breath and calm down. Next tattoo two words into your brain "Be Consistent!"

The examples I listed are not from deaf children but just a sample of the behaviour I have witnessed teaching typical hearing 2 1/2 - 4 year olds in a classroom setting. We are told our deaf children will have so many problems learning to behave or really be human and yet the behaviour is not compared to hearing kids. If a child has consistent access to their native language from a very early age and consistent discipline I have yet to be convinced that this stereotype has any validity. What I have seen is parents who don't have tools. What I have seen is parents who have been preached the gospel of delays, disability.

For example hearing kids will throw tantrums where they are screaming and having a fit and don't hear a word you say. The parent who is consistent may chose to let the child freak out then talk about it after followed by a consequence. What is the difference? Both parents have to wait, both children can't communicate can't talk while in the midst of a meltdown.

With my son he tried on all sorts of behaviour but I never saw any difference from my hearing friends hearing children. If you give kids the credit they deserve for testing boundaries with the skill of a CIA agent you will see you can't blame deafness for the behaviour. If you do not remain calm and consistent you may see the behaviour worsen. If you don't share fluent language it may worsen and if you are always looking for the weakness you have been preached you are doomed. My thought is stop using deafness as an excuse.


My son was mad about something last summer and he decided it was a good idea to storm off while I was talking and slam his door. I waited patiently for him to emerge from his room. I was calmy working on something. He tried to start the argument again, I ignored him continuing my work signing only once "consequence".
When he came out again, I explained it is ok to be mad but not to direspect me. I also gave him a consequence that sent him back to the tech dark ages. Lesson learned.


  1. That's news to me that deaf children are difficult or have problems learning to behave. It sounds like something a person who doesn't have children would say to a parent.

    You're right, having a native language well in place early helps with discipline. Just the meaning of the word "consequence" is an important tool in communication. Well said!

  2. Excellent post!

    I saw the same things with our children and I see the same thing with the children of friends. One thing my wife & I agreed on was that if we promised a consequence, then we absolutely must follow through *always*, no exceptions!


  3. I might add that not every parent was born knowing how to enforce behavioral limits and administer consequences. Most good parents have learned from their parents. The rest of us have to learn from books, therapists, and other parents. When you add the deafness to the mix, and the need to figure out a language that works, behavior management becomes even more complicated. Good job, Mel, for figuring it out! Children don't behave badly just because they are deaf. They behave badly when there are no consequences for it and they achieve the desired result.

  4. Can you contact me at I love your blog and would like to use some of your writings in The Endeavor which is the magazine for the American Society for Deaf Children. I couldn't find your email address so I am posting this as a comment. Thanks!

  5. Hi,
    Another great article.Your thoughts and feelings about the deafness is touching ones.

    huile essentielle

  6. This blogpost could have described my 4-year-old to a 'T'!!! The irony is...he's HEARING. I wonder if KODAs usually display those behaviors you listed? So far things are getting better with my son because I am approaching to his misbehavior in a different way, thanks to this AWESOME book: "Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery" by Judy Arnall

  7. I read your blog ealted to A Brief Thought On The Behaviour of Deaf children and i relly become a sad after reading all about this to children.I wish to god and help this childens


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