Help! I’m Babysitting and Can’t Hear the Kids

One of my Facebook followers asked: “I have hearing loss and sometimes watch other people’s children. What tips do you have for understanding their voices?”

My suggestion:

When I have young children over for a playdate, I sometimes show them my hearing aids and point out that my ears are “broken.” I also show them how to tap me gently on the shoulder when they need my attention. Even after all this and I struggle to hear them, I try to direct the conversation and the play. If I know what the subject of the conversation is, I am more likely to understand. I kneel down on the child’s level so that it is easier to lip read. Other times, I’ll ask one of my older children to repeat clearly to me what the child just said.

What suggestions do you have? Post them below.

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12 thoughts on “Help! I’m Babysitting and Can’t Hear the Kids

  1. I have to be honest….other people’s small children often sound like gerbils to me, or at least a bunch of disconnected high, breathy phonemes. When their mommies say, “you must look at Auntie Gael when you talk to her”, this usually scares them and they shut up completely. Some little brave souls thrust their face into mine and overenunciate and bellow. Hard to keep a straight face (let alone keep from falling over), but I do, and I thank them for speaking clearly. Sometimes, to be honest, I bluff as if I”m understanding them or, worse, avoid talking to them completely. Not helpful if one is babysitting…..

  2. I tend to communicate more with gestures, making faces and eye contact than actual words. The kids especially get really into it. Admittedly I still get along better with kids that aren’t talking much yet, and my way of communicating doesn’t work well in case of emergencies.

    • Jamie – Great tips! Gestures and facial expressions are very useful with young kids. If only the bigger kids were that easy to understand… šŸ™‚

  3. I used to hand my grandkids my FM microphone so they could talk to me. It was like Karaoke to them. I agree about disconnected high, breathy phonemes and those are children I know.

  4. Am almost wondering if giving them a small flashlight “if age appropriate” might not be a bad idea to get your attention.

  5. Maybe we could tell them our ears are broken and them ask them if they want to learn a nersery rhymeor song in sign. That way they could do something with you. Just a suggestion. Some kids may not want to….

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