PRESCHOOL & PRIMARY SCHOOL
Facing the other kids
At a young age, pre-school and kindy, children ask questions about any noticeable differences in their playmates – because they are curious. Complicated answers are a waste of time- they won’t understand, so keep it simple and be guided by some of the hints in the BLUE BOOK (pge 83) and our other resource “Clancy”. To order these resources, contact us. For more info take a look at Kids only, TeensPlus or Psychology
Make sure your child feels comfortable by choosing some simple responses beforehand to a question such as “what’s wrong with your mouth?” Because you won’t always be there to give the answers. Of course the teacher should be fully aware of what cleft is, and your child should be able to go to the teacher if any situation feels uncomfortable.
Whenever your child asks a question just answer in a straightforward manner, encourage them to share their feelings and be able to voice them with every member of the family. How you and the family react will help determine how well your child copes with any comments or possible teasing.
Hints on reacting to teasing
Practise within your family with hypothetical situations and give your child the confidence to solve any teasing themselves.This is more likely to happen as your child gets older rather than at pre-school.
Here are 3 questions that can form the basis of facing up to teasing :
(sourced: AboutFaceInternational;’ Making Faces’ by Logan Bristow)
- Who is doing the teasing? (Is it someone close or someone you hardly know? Is this person and their opinions important to you?)
- Why did they do it? (for fun, jealousy, genuine dislike or didn’t know about my difference?)
- Do you accept or reject the teasing? (Will it get to me, can I ignore it, should I tell them how I feel?)
Ways to cope?
Firstly, make sure your child has good self-esteem and good supportive friends (if in an older age group) and use humour. Good advice when being teased is to tell your child to “stand tall, look the person in the eye, take a deep breath and relax. Say politely how it makes them feel, deflect it back to the teaser – but don’t be insulting. Get friends to help you.”
However if the teasing becomes “bullying” or using physical force to hurt or embarrass, then it is not OK for anyone! Use the same strategies as with teasing and use answers prepared with the family to respond to questions. Serious cases need to be referred to the school authorities as with all bullying.
Hearing checks should be continued to monitor for any hearing loss.
For more information on Ear Health & Hearing
Oral Health & Dental Hygiene
Mouth health (which includes teeth) is a very important part of our general health because a healthy mouth helps make us feel good about ourselves and healthy teeth play an important role in the growth of the face. This also includes the development of speech and is necessary for the orthodontic treatment that is usually required. So you need to look after them.
Good preventive home care from an early age, (as soon as teeth start erupting), as well as appropriate checks and care if necessary from a dental care provider, are very important. From 2 years old use a fluoride toothpaste twice daily, limit fizzy and sugary drinks to meal times only.
When children are a little older, the use of a mouth guard is a wise precaution if they participate in contact sport. For useful information about caring for your child’s mouth and teeth as well as information about accessing appropriate dental services in your region.
For more information on Dental Care & Orthodontics
Some children require speech language therapy. This is started with your Speech Language Therapist at the hospital and at around 2- 3yrs old they will refer your child on to the Early Intervention Team at Group Special Education (GSE) which is part of the Ministry of Education. This work can often be carried out at Kindy, so we suggest you talk with Kindy about your child’s needs and answer any questions they may have. “Clancy”, the resource book is useful to explain what a cleft is to Kindy staff.
For more information on Speech Therapy