09 Aug Keeping Your Child Positive During Speech Therapy
Speech therapy is empowering, for both children and adults. When patients begin to see the benefits of the work they’re doing, a noticeable change comes over them as a new feeling of confidence begins to set in. It’s a wonderful moment for family, friends, and the speech therapy team, not to mention for the patients themselves.
However, it can be a long road to get to these hard-won gains, and frustration can often set in. For children especially, that frustration can be compounded by a sense of alienation from their peers. While many of us have grown up to realize our own unique strengths, children often find little appeal or comfort in being different. When children feel this way, they may withdraw into themselves. This often heightens their feelings of being alone, and can cause issues with anxiety and low self-esteem, not to mention impacting their progress in speech therapy.
Parents and guardians have a front-row seat to these difficulties, and often encounter stresses of their own in trying to help their child feel positive about their unique circumstances. We’ve put together some tips on how to help children overcome their feelings of alienation in order to maximize the results of their speech therapy. With your support, your child can and will succeed.
Communicate the Prevalence of Learning
The benefits of speech therapy and early intervention are becoming more widely known, leading more and more parents and guardians to seek out speech therapy services early in their child’s life. However, it’s still possible that your child may be the only one they know in speech therapy. That can make what they’re doing seem like something “other.” But while learning strategies for communicating may be out of the ordinary in their mind, and perhaps even your own, learning new skills as a child is far from unique. In fact, it’s how children spend the bulk of their time.
Later in life, many of us grow to regard skills like throwing a ball, writing our name, reading, or tying our shoes as natural. But the truth is, they are all learned skills, and that learning occurs for most of us as children. It can be beneficial to point this out to your child. It can help them to understand that everyone they know is learning new things, and that this is just something else to learn.
Another way to help your child realize the ubiquity of learning is to communicate some of the things that you are actively learning. Whether it’s something you’re engaged in for work, school, or even the things you’re learning about speech therapy, letting children know that even those they look up to work hard to master new skills—and sometimes get frustrated—can be incredibly encouraging.
Actively Encourage Friendships With Other Speech Therapy Patients
Taking part in speech therapy can seem “weird” or “different” to a child—until they meet other children doing the same thing. One of the best things you can do for a child in speech therapy is encourage them to make friends with other children in speech therapy. Suddenly, they’re not alone. They can share their difficulties and their triumphs without first having to explain what exactly it is their doing. Have you ever met someone outside of your job that works in the same field as you do? There’s an immediate ease to your communication that comes from a shared understanding. Often times, it can help you feel heard, and that provides a powerful connection, no matter your age.
Children feeling isolated by their speech therapy can often have trouble reaching out. So we encourage you to actively work to build these friendships with your child. Contact other parents or guardians, schedule play dates. By playing an active part in helping your child form new friendships, it can take some of the burden off of them. An added benefit can be meeting another parent or guardian of a child in speech therapy. There’s a lot to learn on your end as well, and it can be just as helpful for you as it is for your child to find someone who can relate.
Help Them Look Beyond Speech Therapy
Children often feel pressure from their families, their peers, and themselves to correct their issues with speech and communication. Because of this pressure, speech therapy can seem all-encompassing and overwhelming, further increasing feelings of alienation.
Luckily, you have the power to help widen the scope of your child’s world. Signing them up for other activities can help them find new skills, new confidence, and a new sense of connection to their peers. If you can, try to find something your child has a strong interest in or something at which they already excel. Does your child like to play soccer with their older siblings? Consider signing them up for a soccer team. The same goes for basketball, baseball, swimming, or any other sport. The fun of playing a game they enjoy and the support of a team dynamic can go a long way toward helping your child to feel connected.
And there are more options than just sports. There are a bevy of other activities for children to take part in with their peers. There is a whole wide world beyond speech therapy, and you can help them see it.
Help Them Feel Heard and Understood
Children are in speech therapy to strengthen their communication skills, with the goal of communicating effectively so that others can understand them. It’s helpful throughout that process to know that there’s already someone who understands them—you. When your child is feeling isolated or alone, it’s important to help them look ahead to a time when they’ve mastered the skills they’re learning. But it’s also important to understand that they’re not there yet, and to let them know that you understand the frustrations they feel right now.
No matter what steps you take to encourage your child in speech therapy, there are going to be days where they struggle, and days where they feel angry or upset. That’s a feeling we can all relate to. No matter how hard we work, or what victories we’ve attained, we still have bad days from time to time. We encourage you to sit with your child on days like that, and let them know you hear them. Children are often told to look beyond their feelings of frustration, to look to a brighter future. But that’s an abstract concept, and it can be hard to grasp. Often times, it can be easier to focus on where they are right now. Being there with them is sometimes the surest way to help them feel less alone.
Compassionate, Effective Speech Therapy in Dallas, TX
While you encourage your child to have patience, remember to be patient with yourself. There is a learning curve to speech therapy, and to caring for a child with communication challenges.
If you’re looking for a compassionate team of dedicated speech therapists, we’ve got the folks you’re looking for right here at Bliss Speech and Hearing Services, Inc. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.