When can a child start to care for their own hearing aids? First things first, I think we do know when it’s too early.
For instance, if your little one is constantly pulling the hearing aids out and this is a common battle, then your first goal is establishing consistent use.
Once consistent hearing aid use is established and their motor skills develop, don’t be afraid to start handing over some of the hearing aid management to them.
Work with your family or educational audiologist to set goals for how your child will learn about his or her hearing aids. Then he or she can start to assist with everyday management of their devices. Eventually the responsibility for wearing and using their technology will rest solely on their shoulders.
Have your child do small tasks, such as taking the aids out at night, turning them off and storing them in their proper case or dry aid kit. Do it together- showing them the process, letting them tell you the process and then letting them show you how they can do it. If they have a calendar or a regular to do list, mark on the calendar when it’s time to change the batteries. Teach them this routine. You’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll remind you the first time you forget!
Also teach them to know the difference between the right hearing aid and the left hearing aid, and then to put their hearing aids in their ears independently. Know this may take a little time and practice and some kids will do it quicker than others. Don’t be afraid to let them try. You can always check after to make sure they’re in properly. Tucking in the top of the molds is often the most difficult for them.
It sounds simple, but establishing these basic habits will help your child take ownership of their devices. These are the first steps towards a child that not only manages their hearing aids but also takes responsibility for their hearing too. As they become more mature and experienced with their devices, your audiologist may start to talk about volume controls and special programs for different listening environments, and managing these can be future goals as well.
As they grow older you won’t always be with them every second of the day. Help them learn to check and care for their devices.
Encourage them to teach their friends and their teachers about their hearing aids. This will foster confidence and independence and help prepare your child to advocate for himself or herself as their listening needs change.
So if today, you’re changing batteries and cleaning ear molds and thinking you’ll be glad when they can do this for themselves, to talk to your audiologist and use these steps to set realistic goals. With a little time and effort, your children will gain independence and self management for their hearing aids.
You can find more resources on how to help your child to establish independent hearing aid use and care, here: