“Ask Away Tuesdays”

By Monique Les, Joy Gong and Tara Dyck

“Ask Away Tuesdays” started in late 2022, when Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) Guides
Monique, Joy and Tara recognized the need for parents to have a space to ask anything
that might be on their minds! The three most common questions they get are answered
below, to give you a taste of their diverse answers.

How can we (parents) support our DHH child’s self esteem/confidence?
Monique: Each time parents ask us how they can best support their child in developing
a healthy self image of themselves, my first answer is, as parents YOU are your child’s
first role model. If adults around a DHH child have a positive, healthy and realistic
attitude, then chances are your child will demonstrate that outlook as they grow.

Joy: It’s helpful to have them participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports,
arts, or music. Allowing them to have that space to foster and develop skillsets in those
activities will help build their confidence and self-esteem along the way. When
explaining or letting other people know about your child’s deaf/hard of hearing needs
and accommodations, it’s helpful for parents to use positive language around supporting
their child.

Tara: Honestly – the same as you would support your hearing child’s self
esteem/confidence! Focus on strengths. Identify what brings them joy and then build
responsibilities/activities around this. Encourage/empower them to do things
independently, i.e. colour/draw; do chores; order at a cafe/restaurant; open a bank
account; save money; join a sports club/team. Be creative and have fun!

The only thing I may emphasize with a Deaf/HH child is to make sure they *SEE* you
(and others) praising them. And, make sure that your Deaf/HH child understands that
you are praising them, that you are proud of them. Communication plays a big role in
this. Be sure that both you and your Deaf/HH child can understand each other, whether
it be in sign language, spoken language, or both.

Hand clapping is sound based whereas the American Sign Language (ASL) hand
wave is more visual. Give the ASL hand wave a try! Wave and twist both hands in the
air! (This is how you do it: https://www.signasl.org/sign/hand-wave) I loved it when
my hearing parents did this when they were proud of me.

What is considered rude/inappropriate when trying to get my DHH child’s
M: I found this to be the most interesting question to date in our “Ask Away Tuesday”
sessions. It really made me think! One of the things that distinctly comes to mind are
family events or situations where a joke is being said, and I didn’t catch it… to which I’d ask “What happened?” A simple “Never mind, I’ll tell you later” is both rude and hurtful.
It diminishes our presence, and feels like exclusion.

J: When trying to get your DHH child’s attention, a gentle tap on the shoulder or a light
waving of the arms will help, or getting the person closest to your child to help you.
What I found rude, for myself, were sharp, aggressive taps or big, extreme arm waving
that would draw attention from the whole room, or yelling from another person to get my

T: Teach your DHH child what is respectful and kind and that they deserve to be treated
with respect and kindness too. Have a discussion with them about what helps others to
get their attention and then encourage them to communicate to others what they prefer
(i.e. gentle pat on shoulder, switch lights on and off a couple of times) when they meet
them for the first time. It is NOT OK for others to scream or throw things to get your
child’s attention.

What memories do you have of times you felt challenged or bullied and your
parents supported your self-esteem/confidence?
M: One of the earliest memories that I have is my mom sending me to order my own
happy meal from McDonald’s. I was 7 years old, and still shy about using my ‘voice’ to
order. The first time I ordered it, they gave me a cheese burger, instead of chicken
nuggets. My mom sent me right back to the counter without her and said “You can do it,
just say that they gave you the wrong order”. That moment was THE moment when I
realized that I didn’t have to settle for less.

J: One of the most memorable phrases that my parents have said to me was “You’ll
never know unless you try”. To this day, whenever I have doubts or uncertainty, I carry
that phrase with me when I take on new challenges or try out new opportunities. Also, I
was involved in dance and piano lessons which I found were helpful in building my
self-esteem and confidence through constant practice and improvements with each
progression in new dance routines and music levels.

T: My parents saw that I loved swimming at a very early age and greatly supported this
interest. Qualifying for the youth nationals at age 12 was a huge self-esteem/confidence
booster. It was proof that I could do anything I put my heart into. And, importantly, that
being Deaf was not a barrier to (my) success. My parents were not ashamed that I was
Deaf. They always said, “You can do anything – being Deaf is not going to stop you from
doing anything”. The confidence they had in me in the first place is probably what
helped me to build confidence.

“Having parents who believed in me was the best.” – Tara Dyck

Join us for our next “Ask Away Tuesday” sessions, which run from 7-830pm on Zoom!
Captioning and ASL interpreters are available.
Please email Monique.Les@cw.bc.ca for the link.

Mark in your calendar the upcoming dates! They’d love to connect with you.
March 14, 2023
April 11, 2023
May 23, 2023
June 13, 2023

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