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Talking to Kids About Disabilities

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talking-to-kids-about-disabilitiesKids notice differences, like disabilities in other kids and adults. Here’s how to explain disabilities to your kids. 

When we see someone who looks different than us or acts differently, many of our uncomfortable meters shoot straight up. Do we look away? Do we try not to stare? Do we act perfectly normal as if this person is not different? If this is how we feel as adults, imagine the confusion our kids might experience when meeting or seeing someone with disabilities. What is the right way to talk to kids about disabilities?

For starters, when talking to kids about disabilities, don’t ignore what they see or might be asking about. It’s okay for them to wonder and to ask questions. You can explain in simple, but truthful terms, what the disability is and what it can cause. Once kids understand what exactly makes someone else different, then accepting it and not fearing it is much easier. This is so important as many kids with and without disabilities are in schools and class together.

5 Points to Keep in Mind When Discussing Disabilities With Your Kids

  1. Use this opportunity to remind kids to be well-mannered, non-judgemental and caring.
  2. Let kids know that just because someone may act or look different, like if they are in a wheelchair, have Down Syndrome or Tourette’s Syndrome, does not mean they are just like them in other ways. The little boys probably love soccer or baseball just like your son, or the little girl loves dress up or playing with dolls. What they like and what they do is just important to them as to the rest of us.
  3. Don’t try to avoid or change the subject. It’s okay to be straightforward in your answer as to why they have a disability. Like “They are walking with that stick because they can’t see and the stick helps them feel their way.”
  4. Remind your children when discussing disabilities that some can’t always immediately be seen. Another child, or grown up, might have an “inside” disability rather than an “outside” one causing them to behave a little differently than they do. Speak to your kids about tolerance and acceptance and the need to treat others respectfully.
  5. When discussing disabilities with your kids, steer clear of words that are derogatory or hurtful. Be mindful of proper terminology and use that in your talks to ensure your child has a positive, fair outlook from the beginning.

For more on how to talk to your kids, check out poshmom.com

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