Every year, thousands of the children born with facial difference. Living with a craniofacial difference may create pressures and challenges that can affect one’s self-esteem. Here’s how you should know about these challenges so you can help empower your child to thrive in school.
1.Be prepared for transitions.
Visit your child’s new teacher(s) or school before the school year begins. If you foresee a difficult transition, talk with the school principal and see if s/he is able to match your child with the teacher best qualified to address your child’s need. After school starts, schedule a follow-up visit with school staff or meet with the teacher(s) periodically. Talk to your child about activities and routines at the new school and consider arranging play dates with new classmates before the school year begins.
2. Be actively involved in child’s school activities.
It is possible to serve as a parent volunteer as early as nursery school. Consider making a classroom visit to demonstrate a skill or present information on an issue close to your heart, such as your child’s facial difference.
3. Continue to participate in your child’s next level education.
When your child moves on to middle and high school, continue to participate in his/her education. Attend extracurricular activities, school performances and special events. Seek out any opportunities that you can be involved with.
4. Assist with homework as needed.
It’s important to teach your child time management, self-discipline and impart the value completing work in a timely fashion. You may also help reduce your child’s stress and anxiety by working to set realistic limits on extracurricular activities.
5. Share your concerns with school personnel.
You may wish to get involved with your local school board to influence policies regarding issues such as philosophy of education, curriculum, homework, school safety, equipment needs, special needs, and use of technology.
6. Be aware and observe carefully.
You should know that your child may not always tell you when something negative happens at school. Stay updated by periodically checking in with your child’s teacher(s) and asking how s/he is adjusting in the classroom and getting along with classmates.
7. Be realistic and honest.
Your child will be open and honest with you if you’re also open and honest. For example, it’s not realistic to tell your children not to feel sad if they are picked on or teased. Acknowledge how hard it is to ignore the person who hurts your child’s feeling and empower your child with the tools to deal with such a situation if it happens in the future.
8. Try to alleviate tense social situations with humor.
At home, laugh with your child about silly things, and sometimes even about difficult things. Set an example for your child by not taking everything too seriously yourself. Help your child improve self-soothing techniques. For example, teach your child to take deep breaths or count to ten before responding to others.
9. Support your child with healthcare professionals.
If your child has difficulty talking to you about problems at school, offer to have him/her speak with another family member or, if necessary, a mental health professional. Talking about the hurt may alleviate the emotional pain your child experiences.
Understanding your child’s development and coping strategies can help you to be more effective in instilling a strong sense of self-respect and self-worth. We hope that some of the suggested strategies provided in this article will help promote feelings of pride and confidence in your child.