Challenges and solutions during the pre-school years
This is an important time for developing coping skills and self-esteem in yourself and your child. These are the years when children become more aware of the world around them, and of being different, and start to ask questions on just about everything. These years are an opportunity to establish good lines of communication between yourself and your child. Talk openly and honestly about everything, including his or her appearance.
Children are already learning how to cope with the big wide world at this stage. They will need your guidance with many things, including how to cope with reactions to the way they look.
Some or all of the following ideas may help if you find it a difficult time, or sense that your child is concerned:
Showing your child how to cope. Children at this age learn by watching other people, especially those close to them. Your child will learn how to manage things like hospital visits, making friends and coping with other people’s reactions by watching you. The best way of teaching your child to cope well is to cope well yourself and to introduce him or her to other adults and children who also cope well.
Talking to your child about his/her microtia and atresia. Parents often ask what they should tell their child about their microtia and atresia. You should be open, honest and calm, and use simple terms that they can understand to explain about their ear and any treatments they might be getting. All children differ in what sort of language or explanations they find easiest to understand. If you’re not sure that they’re clear about what you’ve told them, ask them. You may have to find other words for some part of your explanation. By talking openly and honestly, you can prevent your child from making up their own mind about what’s wrong. For example, that ‘I have a little ear because I’m bad.’ Understanding their condition will help to alleviate any worries or false ideas that they may have, and it will also help them to come to see their little ear as just another part of themselves, like their hair, their eyes and all the other things that make them who they are. They will also learn that it is OK to talk about their ear.