“Mommy, why is that boy walking like that?” – How To Help Your Child Be More Sensitive Towards Kids With Disabilities.

I recently came across a really great article from Today’s Parent magazine. My wife subscribed to the magazine several years ago when we had our first child and now we have a whole stack of them dating back several years. We cut out and save some of the important articles. The article that’s featured in this post is from April 2004 and discusses how a parent should deal with their child’s curiosity when confronting another child with a disability.

If your child asks you loudly in public “Why is that boy walking like that?” you shouldn’t shush your child and pull her away. She is just being curious.

Shed the embarrassment. Remind yourself that your child is merely expressing interest in the world around her. She
might as well have asked why the carrots are orange.

Here’s a list of what you as a parent should and shouldn’t do when your child asks you about another child’s disabilities:

  • Do not shush your child and pull her away.

    “That’s more discouraging because that’s where the whole ignorance about disabilities is passed on.” [page 125]

  • Understand that kids have a more open mind about what’s considered normal. They are open to accept kids that might be different from them.
  • If your child is curious, allow him to approach the parent of the disabled child and ask questions.
  • While its normal for children to be curious and ask questions, adults on the other hand should refrain from being nosy and avoid asking questions.
  • Keep it simple when explaining to your child about another child’s disabilities.

    “She doesn’t walk well, and the wheelchair helps her get around.”
    “His legs don’t work well”.
    “his ears don’t work so he’s talking in a special language with his hands instead.” [page 128]

  • Avoid a detailed explanation that might confuse your child especially if they’re preschoolers.
  • Use the right words when describing a disability and avoid using words that can offend e.g. crippled, handicapped.
  • Do not force your child to approach the family and ask questions.

    “Just let kids be where they are because when they’re more at ease, they’ll make their own move.” [pg. 128]

The article provides parents with the following additional advice:

  • Find ways to include these children when having parties and play dates. Don’t leave them out simply because you think it might be too difficult to adapt your environment or activity to their needs.
  • As a parent being more positive about disabilities will help your children “see more similarities than differences.” [pg. 128] The better your attitude about people with disabilities the better your child’s. If you engage them then your kids will too.

You could read an online version of the article here

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